How to find a start-up co-founder and the four key questions you should ask

How to find a start-up co-founder and the four key questions you should ask

Posted: Wed 9th Jan 2019

Creating a team of co-founders can be incredibly powerful. Having co-founders with different skills and attitudes helps ensure start-ups are successful and sharing your passion can be a lot of fun.

We look at the main ways to find co-founders and the questions you should ask when you meet potential candidates.

Events and co-working spaces

Networking is a great way to meet potential co-founders. Be passionate about what you're trying to do. Share your vision and think about how you can help the people you connect with.

You might not mention it immediately but it's amazing what you can get out of these conversations whether it's a new client, marketing support or the business partner you've been looking for.

Founder match-making services and directories

Websites like and CoFoundersLab have sprung up to help people look for co-founders.

You could also search the community listings on Enterprise Nation and make connections with fellow members.

Call outs on social media might help too. Show your personality and the purpose behind what you're doing. People love to make recommendations and connect people, so put yourself out there and see how you get on.

University and college

Universities are a great way to meet people. Look for like-minded students at social events and through your university's entrepreneur events.

Try developing teams around projects you're excited about. There's no need to commit to launching a business together immediately.

Starting up while studying gives you the opportunity to try working with different people and figure out whether there's a good fit.

StartUp 2019

Enterprise Nation's huge event on 19 January brings together more than 1,000 start-up founders across 11 zones so we couldn't help but mention it! Turn up and get networking.

Speaker's corner, one of the zones at the event, gives you the opportunity to pitch your ideas in front of other founders who want to start businesses.

Join Enterprise Nation and build your business connections

As a member of Enterprise Nation you can connect with thousands of business owners and advisers to build partnerships, do deals and share expertise. The co-founder you need could be part of the community!

Discover the full range of member benefits

Questions to ask potential co-founders

When you're talking to potential founders it's important to vet them and work out whether there's a good fit.

1. Do you have the same aspirations?

Talk about what you want to get out of the business. Start-ups have very different trajectories.

Some grow to a few employees and stay that way for decades simply earning enough to create a great lifestyle for their founders. Others take on funding and try to scale rapidly. Many more startups fit somewhere in between these two approaches.

Having a sense of the trajectory you're aiming for will dictate founders' job roles and the amount of risk involved. Being on the same page will help co-founders make fundamental decisions.

It's easy for these conversations to get carried away. Enjoy the hype but make sure you bring the conversation back to the day-to-day reality of how youll be working.

If you plan to take on significant funding someone will have to be responsible for knocking on the doors of investors. If you're bootstrapping there will be a huge amount of delivery work to do, whether it's marketing or working on the till.

2. What's your personal financial situation?

Making your first sales - and getting paid - takes time. Make sure your co-founding team understands each other's financial commitments.

How much do you each have to take out of the business to get by and what are your long-term salary expectations?

3. What skills does the team have?

Start-up founders have to do a wide range of tasks from posting products and running pop-ups to calling clients. It's helpful to think about all the tasks and job roles that you need to do when the business is launching.

Finding co-founders that have a mix of skills is incredibly helpful. Outsourcing and hiring staff are expensive. Covering the main job roles with the team you have is fantastic.

Too much overlap in the skills base you have can be an issue in the beginning as the team may spend too much time on one set of activities.

4. Think about the diversity of ideas

Recruiting co-founders from your immediate network helps build trust but has the danger of reducing diversity. Friendships are often formed around people with a similar social and economic background.

Having a range of experiences and backgrounds increases the range of perspectives your team has on the problems it will have to solve. The quality of ideas and the performance of your business will benefit from a diverse team of co-founders.

Chris has over a decade of experience writing about small businesses and startups. He runs Inkwell, a content agency that helps companies that sell to small business owners grow their audiences through content marketing. You can find him on Twitter at @CPGoodfellow.

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