How to Find a CoFounder: Starting a Business as a solo founder

How to Find a CoFounder: Starting a Business as a solo founder


As we’ve scaled Slidebean and had the chance
to connect with hundreds of companies, one of the most common questions I get is around
finding a co-founder. The most common scenario I come across is
an executive/business/sales founder, looking to find a tech co-founder to develop the product
they have in mind. So let’s dissect this situation, understand
the challenge this startup faces and look for alternatives to meeting that persona. In this video, we’ll look into,
– Assessing if you can be a solo founder. – The ideal co-founder trio. And then finally, – Evaluating whether or not you are a fit. This is Finding a Co-Founder. First, DO YOU NEED A CO-FOUNDER? It’s sporadic to see a tech guy finding a
business co-founder. When a tech guy has a product or business
idea, they go and build it, they put the product live and promote it with their friends and
their networks. If the product is good, it grows. It’s not THAT simple, but the ability to build
a product without spending cash (other than on Redbulls for your hackathons) is a variable
that could make or break a business. The most common struggle for businesses that
are led by a tech person is sales and distribution. If you only focus on the product or the technology
but can’t find a scalable way to get it in front of people, things aren’t working fine. Still, in today’s tech world, it’s easier
to recruit growth marketing and salespeople than it is to hire developers- at least in
my perception. Now, on the other hand, a non-tech guy may
have a product concept in their minds, but if they can’t build, then the idea is pretty
much worthless. I see a lot of founders go and pay for tech
agency to develop an MVP, which I believe is a terrible mistake. The agency will follow the directing of the
client, but the final product will likely need to change drastically from what’s originally
conceived. When every one of those changes requires a
new contract or extra (full-cost) hours from the agency, then chances are you’ll spend
a lot of money very fast. Another incorrect approach is just to ‘hire
a developer,’ especially if that person is overseas. Once again, the developer will follow the
directions of his employer; and what I’m trying to get to is… business people are often
bad at product management. The first tech person in a tech startup should
have founder status. They should have the ability to challenge
the CEO and direct the product in the best possible way. So once again,
– This will be harsh, but if you don’t have a tech or UX background, then you probably
don’t know what makes a great product. You need that expert bringing ideas, not just
the following direction. – Even if your product concept is good, the
first, and the second, and the third versions will probably suck. You probably can’t afford to pay those versions
to an agency, so you need to do it in house, with a co-founder that is committed to the
business the way you are. In the end, a startup is a race against time,
and by time, I mean money. You can pivot your product, your growth plans,
and your audience as long as you have money in the bank. The more iterations a company can do, the
bigger the chance of success. Now that I’ve probably convinced you that
you need a co-founder, let’s look into THE IDEAL FOUNDER TRIO. I believe this comes from a 2012 quote from,
Rei Inamoto, the chief creative officer for AKQA: “To run an efficient team, you only
need three people: a Hipster, a Hacker, and a Hustler. The Hipster usually joins the team as a designer
or creative genius, and they’ll make sure the final product is cooler than anything
else out there. The Hacker should have the capacity to build
the product and scale it so that millions of people can use it without crashing. And finally the Hustler: a rather misunderstood
team member. In charge of selling the vision of the company
(to the investors) and the product (to the customers). Non-intentionally, we found ourselves with
a Hustler/Hacker/Hipster trio at Slidebean and speaking from experience, it works. Three minds are better than two. Three is also an odd number that’s better
when holding votes. Most importantly, these three co-founders
should sum up all the skills you need to get your business to a fundable position. What’s a fundable position? Check out our video on startup funding. The three of you should be able to solve the
product, the sales cycle, the marketing, and any other major business challenge you could
face before the business is interesting enough for an investor. Chances are you will work with low wages until
then, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to convince anyone else to join you at those
stages. I’ve seen startups with four co-founders or
more, which might become a problem of cash flow when an MVP-stage company needs to pay
four people. Sow how do you build this team? We built a mock product called cofoundrr-
kind of a Tinder for founders. It was our April Fools’ prank- but it helped
us confirm how big of a problem this is. I’ve said this many times; a co-founder relationship
is like marriage without the sex. You need to see each other daily, you need
to deal with tough decisions (many of them around money), and you’ll be together for
years to come… if not forever. You’ll fight and argue and then need to see
each other the next day. A co-founder will also be there to support
you, to share the burden of building a business, to take over when you need a break… so yeah. The best way to start is to test working together,
without the full commitment. If you know someone you’ve already worked
with, then that should most definitely be your first choice. If you don’t know anyone, well, try to put
yourself in a position where you can share a project with your potential co-founder. Perhaps a consulting project. To share my own experience with the founders
of Slidebean. I came up with the ‘concept’ of a simple,
seamless presentation tool. I have some product background but as I said
before, the product we have today is nothing close to what I had in my mind back then. I went through elementary and high school
with Vini and we were close friends. We had done some high school projects together
as well as a couple of collaborations in college (my undergrad was 3D animation and his was
UX and Industrial design). I convinced him to join me for a consulting
project, we worked together and conceptualized further on the idea for Slidebean. We found Jose, our CTO on LinkedIn. No job openings or anything… we simply stalked
a bunch of profiles and reached out to the ones that seemed interesting. Jose had a well-paid day job but was interested
in starting a business of his own. Vini and I didn’t force the idea for Slidebean;
instead, we sat down together to brainstorm of problem/solution combinations that we had
come across in our experience, and that we had the skillset to solve. Jose didn’t quit his day job right away; instead,
we worked together on some other consulting projects and started throwing ideas for Slidebean. It wasn’t until we got accepted into Startup
Chile that we were able to leave all of our other jobs behind and dedicate 100% of our
time to the company. The most critical part of these tests is agreeing
on terms. We made a whole video about Founder Agreements. Who needs to sign paperwork if things are
moving smoothly? Well, that’s the best time to agree on things. When a team member hasn’t done any work in
weeks, and everyone else is upset… that’s a terrible time to decide terms. A few months ago, we started helping companies
write their pitch decks. Many of the idea-stage companies we come across
don’t have a tech co-founder, and I get it: Convincing a developer who is making a 6-digit
salary at Googe to drop their job and come work for this company might be a very tough
sell. On the other hand, proving that you can convince
that guy to quit his day job, is a fantastic validation of the business. You want someone who believes in the company
and is willing to take the risk, not someone who you snatched because you gave them a higher
salary. If you don’t have anyone in your network,
then grow your network. Attend startup events, meetups, Startup Weekend
events… definitely NOT conferences (go watch my video on Startup conferences). Again, think of it like dating. Hang out, grab beers. Test the waters before you fully commit. If you aren’t able to convince anyone to join
you… take a step back and reconsider if the business
proposition could be better. For more ideas on how to meet co-founders-
why don’t you guys share your founder dating stories in the comments- it might bring a
few ideas to the community! As always, thanks a lot for watching. If you go to slidebean.com/cofounders you
can sign up for free and get three free months on any Slidebean plan you choose. Hit that subscribe and we’ll see you next
week!

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

22 Comments

  1. I'm glad you're addressing this topic, especially when the business solves an up-and-coming pain point that's not yet mainstream. . . . Finding visionary cofounders is tough. Any tips?

  2. Such, stellarly informative direction. I really needed this (as I find w/really… all ur other superbly inatructive content u output). So really, Thank you Caya!

  3. It's always great luck to get a good and passionate co-founder but if keep on trying, you will definitely get one. I & my co-founder were looking for a tech co-founder(1 and half years ago). We have tried everything.. We first outsourced our tech work and waste 70,000 rupees(India), which was very much high for us as we are from a rural part of India with not good family background. The amount we wasted on outsourcing was borrowed from friends. We wasted our money + 4-5 months in that. Then we came to know that outsourcing will simply not work, we have to hire a co-founder. We start looking for a co-founder desperately and as we have wasted our money and time we made our next wrong decision by quickly seeking a co-founder, which we thought was passionate when we meet him. But unfortunately, we didn't test him. Eventually, he left after 4-5 months by building half product which he made somehow after we kept on pushing him to develop. Then again we started looking for co-founder but this time, we have learnt a lesson for hiring a passionate one. So we kept on approaching different guys and after 2 months we seek one and that too on trail bases. but eventually, he proved himself passionate by working hard. And there we are the trio Co-Founder of Fashiostreet.(This was an overview, actually we have tried many other things too and failed. ).
    SO IN THE END, HIRING A GOOD PASSIONATE COFOUNDER WILL WORKS.

  4. Great video … you provide awesome value! We are a small startup looking for a technical founder. Will implement your suggestions. Cheers.

  5. You are 101% on the money. I was a former VP at the commercial bank, without the Trio you simply is not venture-capital-bankable. Hey, I want to go to Chilie, too. Is there a WeWork space there, may be i start one. Haaa. Or call it ChillWork.

  6. Hi, I just watched all of your videos, I just wanted to thank for everything and wish you the best of lucks, and of course that when I need to make a presentation, I will so it with you.

  7. My question is do you even need a co-founder. I am currently in a phase where i did try to find tech co-founder but failed to have someone will to put in the same level of commitment i have.. So currently i sourcing the MVP through an agency that i have network connection with. I do understand that the later iterations may require more tech commitment but wouldn't it be better that we prove the business by traction and then i hire the dev in agency to join me. ?

  8. This is good info but there are the mavericks, those who can do 2 or more roles at once, in such cases they are a duo company not a trio, until funding arrives then they hire employees not co-founders. I think this is the sign a company will go past 100 million net worth. When they start as just a duo. Like Jobs and Wozi or Gates and Allen, Lary page and his buddy Brin etc

    This is an interesting phenomenon which I like to think about. Probably because doing 2 roles a once is a sigh of very high intelligence without the hustle or communicating the idea to another person who might not get the full picture.

    A solo founder or a successful multi million dollar biz would be the test of true entrepreneurship, Jeff Bezos

  9. Loving these videos! It’s providing exactly the info I need in my own startup venture. Thanks for making the content, keep them coming! πŸ˜€πŸ‡­πŸ‡°

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