On co-founders


Reading time – 3 minutes

TDLR – pick someone who is one step removed from being a close friend, smart with a skill-set complementary to yours, and professional enough to keep their emotions in check when things hit the fan.

You see those guys who always keep people at arms’ length and make it a point to lay low? I am one of them yet when it comes to start-ups having a strong team is the most important criteria for success after having a product that people need/love.

And the strong team sometimes starts with picking a co-founder. It is somewhat like finding a spouse, and you want to make sure that their skillsets are complementary to yours. Don’t invite someone into your business just because s/he is your good friend, especially if s/he is your good friend – more on that later.

What you’re looking for is someone:

  • with complementary expertise,
  • who is smart,
  • who is professional enough to keep their emotions in check when things hits the fan,
  • who you know is going to get things done.

The last two are especially necessary when you know that the start-up is going to fight for its life at some point. You don’t want to be managing someone’s emotions along with fixing the product because you will have your own sets of emotions to deal with and if you start pouring your emotions on each other you guys are going to “break up”. And a founder break up usually spells death for a company.

Therefore unless you can find a good professional partner, roll solo. Ideally s/he is one step removed from being a close friend because everyone in business is a liar and we all lie on technicalities. That created a culture where everything is a chess game and people become pieces to be moved. You don’t want to have a calculating relationship with a friend, keep them out of your business and keep your friendship organic.

More on that next week. 🙂


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