Knowing When You Need a Co-Founder (And How to Find a Good One)

3 min read
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If all goes well, founding a startup can be one of the highlights of your career. This means that going solo might be a tempting proposition, giving you a bigger piece of the pie after a successful exit.

However, this romantic image of starting a company from scratch, all by yourself, doesn’t always work in reality. That’s why many startup founders look for a co-founder who can help fill in any gaps.

But do you need a cofounder when starting a business, or can you build a successful startup as a solo founder? In this article, we’ll discuss if your startup needs more hands on deck, and if so how and when to find a co-founder.

Is a co-founder necessary?

If you really want to forge your own path as a single founder, then you’re certainly welcome to try. According to a study based on Crunchbase data, 46 percent of companies that raised over $10 million in funding had a solo founder. (The remaining 54 percent had two or more founders, indicating that either option is viable.)

In many cases, however, finding a co-founder is a smart decision. Below are a few reasons why:

  • Amount of work: A solo founder needs to wear many hats, including that of startup CEO. You’ll be in charge of hiring employees, product development, fundraising, and more. Bringing a co-founder on board can help you distribute this massive workload and breathe more easily.
  • Different skill sets: Running a business is a multifaceted affair, and not everyone is talented at every part of it. Co-founders can offer complementary skills, such as technical expertise or business problem-solving, that make up for places where you’re lacking.
  • Greater credibility: In the eyes of investors, having a founding team often makes you more credible than being a solo founder. For example, one study found that startups with a single founder took 3.6 times longer to scale the business than did startups with two founders.

Do I need a co-founder for a startup?

We’ve discussed some objective factors about having a startup co-founder. But how do you know if you, in particular, should find a co-founder for your business?

First, the issue of emotional fortitude is often overlooked when starting a business. Building a startup will challenge you and take you out of your comfort zone at times. Having one or more co-founders at your side can help you weather the storm, provide support, and overcome obstacles.
Of course, this presupposes that you’ve chosen the right person to work with. If all goes well, you’ll be establishing a long-term founder relationship that will last years. Make sure that your choice of co-founder is someone whom you can tolerate (or even enjoy) working with for long hours.

Hiring a co-founder is one of your startup’s most important team-building actions, so you should treat it with the appropriate weight. If you’re looking to add a co-founder, there are multiple options available, including:

  • Sourcing candidates from your connections in the startup community.
  • Using “founder dating” websites that seek to match potential co-founders with each other.
  • Posting on general career websites such as LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, and Indeed.
  • Posting on startup-focused websites such as AngelList and Y Combinator.

The traits you should look for when finding a co-founder include:

  • A shared passion and curiosity for the startup’s mission and vision.
  • Solid interpersonal chemistry and compatibility, helping to establish a singular company culture.
  • A knack for growing the business, whether through technical product development, hiring the right employees, or speaking with venture capital firms.
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