I'm currently looking for a few new co-founders since my original co-founder left because of personal issues. What traits should I look for, aside from what they can bring to the table? What questions should I ask when meeting with them? What warning signs should I look out for? I'm looking into cofounders.com to set up meetings as well as attending group events from meetup.com such as 1 Million Cups and Startup Grind.
What kind of Culture do you want your company to exemplify?
Culture being the shared values - a sense of right and wrong - and principles - guidelines for taking action - of any collective group, what you actually would like to analyze more deeply is...yourself.
In the startups I have mentored or consulted for, cofounders vary a fair bit. Usually a decent mix of Type A and B, extrovert and introvert, yin-and-yang of skills to complete each other.
What holds them together is the strong sense of mission, orientation towards employees, customers and exit strategy.
So those are the things you have a strong and honest conversation about right up front. If the cofounder candidate passes your test, they are fine on internal motivations. Externals? That's another story :) !
Great strategy to look for 'the one' so far. Consider adding LinkedIN discussion groups to the list.
Happy to discuss further, bonne chance!
The main thing to do when looking for a co-founder is to stop looking for a co-founder.
Think about "what skills am I lacking to complete this business on my own."
Then, look for local groups that can help you to get that, whether it be a "boot camp" for coding, Some marketing seminars, something.
Your next step is to actually go out and do that thing.
While doing it, talk to people. Make friends.
Eventually (not right away), you will find someone you really click with, and you will talk to them about your idea, and they will be so fired up they will join you.
I have backed 43 startups and have had the chance to see upclose what works well and what doesnt. In short-when founders have complementary skills and similar values, the venture has a better chance of success. The worst chance of success is when inexperienced classmates with the same or similar degrees from prestigious schools try to do a startup. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to get in touch.
I've founded three companies and am in the process of founding a fourth. Out of the first three, the first company had one cofounder, the second had three (too many!), the third and current one is just me, and the new one will have two.
My first two experiences with cofounders didn't work out so well, with one exception. This time around, I'm putting to use what I learned from those first two experiences and the approach seems to be working.
A few specific lessons I've learned the hard way -
1 - Just because someone is a friend doesn't mean they'll make a good cofounder.
2 - Spend time getting to know a person's personality, specifically what their values are and what motivates them. While you don't have to and shouldn't agree on everything, make sure your overall values and motivations are in alignment.
3 - Be honest w/yourself about your own strengths and limitations and find a cofounder who complements your limitations and is open to benefitting from your strengths, by being aware of their own strengths and limitations.
4 - DON'T rush to make a decision. Taking the extra time to find the right cofounder will save you time in the long run. I've made the mistake of finding someone I thought might be a good fit, just to get a project moving, rather than finding someone I was convinced was a good fit.
5 - Look for past successes and/or someone who is honest about past failures. Regarding failures, look for someone who can look at them objectively, while also acknowledging his/her own role in the failure and what they've learned from it.
6 - Don't make the decision late at night over a bottle of scotch, even if it's really good scotch :)
Best of luck, always happy to discuss further on a call as well...!