The most challenging part in any startup journey is finding 1 or 2 other people that buy into your vision and have a complementary skill to whatever you bring to the table: The marketing guy that is looking for the tech guy (or girl), that person with 10 years of sales experience that is looking for his perfect marketing co-founder:
I am not going to lie: finding that person is tough, it is needed and it is most likely the most important thing when it comes to launching a startup! After all, if all goes well you will be spending the next 10 years working with this person.
Which then also brings up the topic of: Should I go into business with someone I randomly met 3 days ago? (But we will get to that a bit later on)
So where to start? How to find a cofounder?
There are a few dedicated platforms on the internet that focus on bringing together potential founders. One of these platforms, and to my opinion the most well know, is a platform called: CoFoundersLab – the world’s largest network of entrepreneurs.
I think that at some stage everyone that is looking for a cofounder will end up on their website and is trying to figure out if this platform is actually adding any value.
To immediately answer that question: No, it does not! This platform sucks, it is weird, don’t bother and don’t waste your time. Here are a few reasons why cofounderslab has a great concept but fails horribly in the execution:
So let’s forget about Cofounderslab.
Attending events, conferences, meetup’s and just trying to connect with people wherever I went.
Personally, I think that this is a great way to meet a potential co-founder even if it did not work for me. (It did not work for me as I hardly stay in one place for more than a weeks) However, if you are based in 1 city and you can integrate yourself within your local startup ecosystem then hopefully you are able to connect with likeminded people who can connect you to people that perhaps would be interested in what you are trying to build! (But it does require consistency, you have to show up for everything, anywhere and any time as that’s the only way to get yourself out there!)
The next thing I tried was to simply post a job on Angellist:
For those unfamiliar with Angellist, it is similar to CoFoundersLab from the perspective that its a platform filled with founders. To be more specific Angellist allows you to create a profile for your startup so that you can then: Hire talent, raise funds, and just overall showcase what it is that you are doing. In other words: As a startup, it is considered a ‘’ must’’ to have an Angellist profile.
On Angellist you can find a ton of startups that are looking for a co-founder, similarly, you can just create a company page and go and look for founders. (You simply post a free job under the cofounder’s section)
What I personally found is that Angellist (especially on the tech side) attracts very short term thinking people. (And yes that is a super generic statement) It also attracts people that just ‘’ mass apply’’ to everything and don’t read any of the requirements that you may put in your job post.
I found it extremely hard to find people on Angellist that would buy into the vision of the company I was trying to build and it seemed that the only thing that would motivate people would be cold, hard, cash!
Angellist remains a great platform, I use it frequently and perhaps my way of using the platform to find a cofounder was just wrong. I simply could not find a true cofounder that would be willing to build this thing from the ground up with me! (Meaning equity vs cash)
So at this point, I was running out of options. I really did not know where else to turn to try and find a cofounder. Perhaps it was simply not meant to be?
Where else could I turn?
I am a big fan of LinkedIn in terms of networking. I also use it to apply for jobs and I can see great value in building a professional network.
I was, however, always under the impression that in order to ‘’post a job’’ on the platform it would require a great deal of cash. But as I researched I came to the conclusion that it was not the case. Instead, the LinkedIn job post tool adopts a model that looks a lot like Facebook in terms of advertising:
That’s exactly what I did and with a very limited budget: $50 I was able to get around 20+ applicants come in.
Granted, 70% of the applicants could go straight to the trash bin but I ended up with a few people that were interesting:
Originally I was just looking for a tech cofounder. Someone with deep experience in software development and that would complement those technical skills that I so clearly lack. (I’m great at self-reflecting – haha)
What followed was a series of job-interview style conversations with every person that came through Linkedin that could somewhat be relevant/interesting to what I was trying to build.
One of the people I spoke with was someone with a very deep understanding of the finance industry mixed with some technical understanding. [ Side comment: The idea had a crucial financial element to it hence this knowledge was going to be very complimentary in order to build and scale this product] More importantly, he understood immediately what I was trying to do and could see the potential moving forward.
At this stage, I recognized that it was far more important to team up with someone who buys into the vision, can see the potential, and was able to add value so after a few conversations we ended up teaming up together…. still looking for that technical cofounder.
Together we tapped into our network and kept on searching for a technical partner. I went back to Angellist but failed. (No serious people) and I decided to turn back to Linkedin and run another job post for a similar budget.
Basically the same thing happened where I was able to get around 20+ applicants to respond to our job post within 24 hours.
We then selected the 5 most interesting applicants and engaged in a series of conversations. (1x just me, 2x us together with the potential co-founder).
Following this, we narrowed it down to two different options and after deep consideration, we decided on one of the two.
So by this point we where 3!
Being a group of thee strangers (basically) we decided that it would not be a smart move to go and corporate a company right away but instead take our time to figure out:
So we spend some time in calls, on slack, email, and WhatsApp: brainstorming, exchanging ideas, and slowly moving things along.
I am so happy to have found 2 great co-founders, both with fantastic experience, a level of serious commitment, and are ready to work as a team to make this idea a big success.
All the way to the point that I am happy to announce that we have started the process of incorporating our company in Bangkok.
(How that works is a story on its own!)