‘It’s not like dating’: 7 lessons on finding a co-founder

Author: Alice Bentinck
Posted: 25 November, 2021

At Entrepreneur First, we’ve helped thousands of individuals find their co-founder, and go on to raise investment from the world’s best investors.

If you believe your company will be successful, choosing your co-founder will become the most significant financial decision of your life. Think of finding a co-founder like making a hiring decision—albeit hiring an equal.

Here are 7 quickfire lessons we’ve picked up on how to find your co-founder:

1. Don’t settle for a ‘cofounder of convenience’ – friends/colleagues who happen to want to start a company at the same time as you. Don’t commit to whoever is available – dedicate real time to finding the right person for you

2. Finding a cofounder is not like dating. You don’t test a cofounder by going for coffee, or endless late night chats. The only way to evaluate cofounder compatibility is to work together and test your productivity which is important because…

3. Productivity is traction for teams. If you and your potential cofounder are productive together, it’s worth continuing. If not, stop. Early stage productivity = quickly generating and proving/disproving hypotheses.

4. Too many co-founders = too much relationship complexity. In a co-founding team of 2, you have 1 interpersonal dynamic to manage. Adding an extra co-founder doesn’t make it 30% but 3 times more complex—there are now 3 dynamics to manage.

For this reason, we always recommend startups have two co-founders. We find going from strangers to co-founder is much less complex in pairs. Interestingly, it’s often the process of coming up with an idea falters most in teams of more than 2.

5. You won’t find the right cofounder first time. Most founders on our platform go through ~2.5 teams in 8 weeks (in a group of 50+ who have all been selected for their founder potential & commitment). Expect multiple iterations and make sure your co-founder knows you’re in a testing period.

6. Understand your potential cofounders ‘readiness to found’. If you’re ready to go right now, you don’t want to invest time in someone who is dabbling with the idea of being a founder, yet will take the next prestigious job they’re offered.

7. Fast-track the process. Entrepreneur First brings the impatient and the ambitious together to find their peers and co-founders. Everyone who joins our cohorts is ready to found a company, and understands how crucial experimentation and productivity is to their partnership.