Your head is full of great ideas for starting a business—but you need some assistance in executing them. Fortunately, this shouldn’t be an impediment to launching your startup. In fact, you’re in good company with countless other successful entrepreneurs.
It’s important to remember that startups shouldn’t be solo enterprises. You’ll need help from many different people to build your minimum viable product (MVP) and get attention from investors. As such, bringing a cofounder on board can be one of the most crucial decisions you make for your startup.
If you’re wondering how to find a cofounder, looking online can be one of your best options. In this article, we’ll discuss the ways in which you can look for a great co-founder online.
Can you hire a co-founder?
When you read about successful startups, you’ll often hear that the founders were former colleagues, classmates, or even childhood friends. Knowing this, you might assume that you can only find a cofounder from within your existing network in the startup community.
Fortunately, you don’t need to know your cofounders for years in order to go into business with them. Like any other employee, you can absolutely hire a cofounder for your startup. In fact, finding a co-founder for your startup online can get better results than only sourcing your existing connections.
Of course, finding the right cofounder is easier said than done. Startup founders are typically looking for co-founders with complementary skills who can make up for their own. This usually means business-oriented people who are looking for a technical cofounder, rather than the other way around.
How do I find a good co-founder?
What comes to mind when you think of your ideal co-founder? Below are some important considerations when meeting cofounders:
- Type of personality: Startup founders tend to have a go-getter attitude, but that doesn’t mean your personalities will mesh. If all goes well, you’ll be spending many hours over the course of years working with this person. Look for a business partner whose presence you can at least tolerate (or even enjoy) while building your startup.
- Skill sets: Co-founders should fill any gaps in each others’ business or technical skill sets. If you’re not a people person, your co-founder should have a large social network and sharp business acumen. Meanwhile, if your coding skills are nonexistent, you’ll need some advice on how to find a technical cofounder.
- Business vision: Most startup founders are interested in a long-term venture, not a part-time gig. Make sure that your choice of co-founder has the same business outlook, goals, and commitment level as you do. If your startup is just a passion project, co-founders who want to exit big won’t be a good match.
The good news: there are nearly as many ways to find a cofounder online as there are potential cofounders. Websites such as Founders Nation, CoFoundersLab, and StartHawk have been created explicitly to match entrepreneurs with each other. Platforms such as Reddit, Slack, and Discord are organized around specific communities, helping you find like-minded people. For example, this list of Slack workspaces offers more than 400 places to connect with possible co-founders.
Below, we’ll explore two specific websites that are great places to find a cofounder online: Y Combinator and LinkedIn.
How do I find a cofounder on Y Combinator?
Y Combinator is one of the tech industry’s most well-known startup accelerators. The organization has helped more than 3,000 companies get off the ground, including Airbnb, Dropbox, Twitch, and Stripe. Y Combinator provides early-stage seed funding to technology startups and helps mentor entrepreneurs, preparing them for their pitches to investors.
In July 2021, Y Combinator launched its cofounder matching platform to help startup entrepreneurs connect. The website is free of charge and has already helped thousands of people in finding a co-founder.
To start using Y Combinator’s “founder dating” site, create an account with Startup School (Y Combinator’s online startup bootcamp). You can sign up with just a business idea, even without solid plans to launch your startup.
Next, you’ll need to fill in some basic information about yourself. This includes your location, the progress you’ve made on your startup, and your technical abilities (if any).
After you complete your account, Y Combinator will recommend other profiles with whom it thinks you’d be a good match. If you find an interesting profile, you can send a message and an invitation to connect. Once both parties have matched with each other, you can make plans to meet and pitch your ideas.
How do I find a cofounder on LinkedIn?
Social media websites such as LinkedIn are also good resources when searching for a co-founder. LinkedIn has a variety of features and functionality that help potential co-founders match with each other.
If you already have a large network on LinkedIn, posting about your co-founder search can help you reach existing connections. LinkedIn is also a good platform for reaching out to former colleagues whom you’d like to bring on board.
To cast your net wider, you can use LinkedIn’s search feature—for example, searching for employees at a specific company. Search results will prioritize your second-degree and third-degree connections on LinkedIn (i.e. people with mutual connections). This will give you some common ground that you can use to reach out to potential co-founders.
For a more systematic approach, you can use tools such as LinkedIn job ads and LinkedIn Recruiter. LinkedIn job ads let you target people with the specific skills or experience that you believe would be a good fit. LinkedIn Recruiter is a premium feature that provides a hiring platform for recruiting candidates. The LinkedIn Recruiter platform offers advanced search filters and recommended profiles that help you narrow down your search.