Expert OpinionWomen Entrepreneurs

Finding the Right Co-Founder

Written by Maryam Ahmed Hassani, the Founder, and CEO of Zealous

Your co-founder can make or break your startup. Choose the wrong one, and your success can easily be derailed. Choose the right one, and you’ve set your company up for greatness. You can have a strong idea, business model, advisory board, and go-to-market strategy, but if you really want to increase your odds of building a successful startup you need the right co-captain on board.

The right co-founder(s) shares your mission and values, is ready to put in the same work and dedication into the business that you are, and is ready to weather the uncomfortable and challenging conversations needed to grow your company. This kind of undeniable value is difficult to come by but not impossible to find.

So, how do you find the right co-founder?

Step 1: Know who you’re looking for. Begin by identifying what you are good at and what skills or competencies you lack that are required to build a successful company. In all startup endeavors, one thing is for certain – you can’t do it all alone (nor should you want to).

If you’re the tech genius behind your startup, you’re better off co-founding your company with a sales or marketing guru you can rely on to market your product while you focus on perfecting the actual product.

In the tech startup ecosystem, there are more or less four main personas that come together to create value in the tech startup space.

  • Visionaries: Those that have a tech startup idea they want to develop or grow. They could be at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey or a serial entrepreneur.
  • Creators: Those that have the technical skills to build tech startups. They could be software developers, graphic designers, data scientists, or someone in between.
  • Amplifiers: Those that have the expertise to market tech startups to the next level. They could be a marketeer, growth hacker, or someone with the right network.
  • Mobilizers: Those that have the resources to give life to tech startups. They could be an investor, community manager, or someone with the connections to offer incentives.

So which persona do you identify best with? Understanding which persona your skills and competencies align with is the first step in finding your ideal co-founder.

Step 2: Start connecting. You can go about this in the traditional approach by scouting in your personal network or reconnecting with people you have worked with in the past; alternatively, you can unlock a larger pool of candidates by leveraging specialised tech networking platforms that will allow you to connect with people in the tech space based on your specific requirements.

Most people are more comfortable doing business with people they trust whom their 1st-degree connections have interacted with and can vouch for. This may at times hinder your progress in finding your ideal tech startup founder as it limits you to a specific pool of people and those top of mind.

Step 3: Seal the deal. Understanding your potential co-founder’s needs and motivations is key to sealing the deal and creating a long-term partnership for your company to grow.

Discussions around equity, ways of working, and roles and responsibilities are best to have as early on as possible to avoid misalignment or co-founder drama down the line. It is essential that proper paperwork is in place to ensure all agreed-upon terms are documented and the rights of both parties are protected. Get those details out of the way so you both can focus on what matters – building a great product.

Finding the right co-founder begins with identifying your priority goals, measures of success, and skillset. Once you get that checked off the list, you can begin networking and connecting with those that are most compatible with you. Thankfully, we live in an interconnected world that allows for ample connection opportunities that go beyond your 1st and 2nd-degree connections. It’s up to you to leverage the tools out there to help you find your ideal co-founder and build a great product. Happy networking!


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