5 Questions to Ask before you choose a Cofounder

5 Questions to Ask before you choose a Cofounder

Ask anyone who has done a startup about top 3 challenges, chances are very high that the word “cofounder” will get mentioned. All startups require human capital to turn the raw idea into a venture. The question that founders usually grapple with is do I need a cofounder or an employee?

The answer to this question primarily lies in the ability of the person to invest money into the venture and / or work in the venture without salary until all other employees have been paid. An employee is someone who will work in the venture for a salary. Hence, the level of commitment expected from a cofounder is significantly higher than any employee.

Most startups require people with complementary capabilities to get the essential work done. In the initial phase, all startups struggle with all assembling sorts of resources – men, material and money.

This is the phase where a founder (i.e. the person with an idea and some thing more) finds a cofounder(s) or people agree to startup as cofounders.

The Challenge

The process from sharing an idea with another person with a view to become a cofounder to actually signing a cofounders contract is a recurring event in startup life cycle. However, this process is largely unstructured and hence, full of pitfalls.

No wonder, most startups commit blunders here and sow seeds of failure. This is because startups never live up to the plan. Invariably, in the beginning, you would have less customers, and you will have spent far more, leaving much less money with you.

This is when cofounders will start looking at the same things differently. They start questioning every decision relating to future as well as taken in the past. If this period continues for a long time, the heat can burn everyone out.

So, here are the 5 questions that one must consider while choosing a cofounder:

  • 1. Does the cofounder share the same vision?
    This is a difficult question and usually takes time to figure out the answer.
  • 2. Is the cofounder equally passionate about the idea?
    Again a hard question to answer. In the beginning, most people who date, say the same things. But when they encounter the first test, true colors are visible.
    So, how can you judge whether the other person is equally passionate. I have a 100:10 rule. In about 10 days, spend 100 hours together. Meet as much, talk as much, go out on a trek. You will get better idea.
  • 3. To what extent personal values match?
    If opinions match too much, then, does it make sense for partnership? or if opinions differ too much, then does it make sense?
    Once again, 100:10 rule will help you figure out the answer.
  • 4. How do you manage difficult conversations
    Startups partnership are expected to run life long. It is never a mild fling. Therefore, you are bound to have tricky conversations. During your 100:10 phase, it would be worthwhile to “discuss the undiscussable”. With our founders and cofounders, we try an get into ZOUD – Zone of Uncomfortable Debates.

    Reflect upon how both of you have managed difficult conversations. If things are still comfortable, you are nearly there.

  • 5. What complimentary capabilities would he / she bring?
    This is relatively easir question. But most founder falter here by quickly assuming capabilities and adding complementarities. It is better to seek an independent opinion.

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