Finding a Co-Founder for Your Start-Up

I recently had breakfast with a former classmate, who is a serial entrepreneur.  She has worked on quite a few start-ups and is now looking for a new one to start.

She’s in a difficult situation because she has so many great options. Many VCs are showing her new teams and ideas, and she’s looking to find a co-founder.

We talked about how hard it is to find an equal partner with whom to work. At Kepha, we are an equal partnership for the investors, and I feel so lucky that Eric Hjerpe is my partner. But, the trick in finding an equal partner is that the fit has to be great for both parties, and, across multiple dimensions.

So, the odds of finding an equal partner are always low. You need to find someone who:

  • Complements your ability, temperament and skill-set
  • Shares a common vision
  • Contributes equal value as you do
  • Is someone with whom you enjoy great chemistry

As I’ve blogged before, one of our investors mentioned to me the the power of “business love.” It happens when you really want to go into business with someone, and it becomes more than just a job. It becomes personal, and you want to fight in the trenches with that person.

The rub is that there probably aren’t many people who can play that role in your company. And, if you’re looking to start a new company, you end up facing the following choice: you hold out for that next candidate who might fit the bill, or you break your economic model and make the founding team unequal.

It’s a difficult choice. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer. But, if you can find a truly equal partner for your business, then you’re really, really lucky.


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