It is a fact that most startups in Germany are launched by teams of two or three persons (78.6% according to the German Startup Monitor 2020). If the team dynamic between the founders is skewed, the startup’s success is at risk. According to CB Insights, the main reason for 23% of failed startups is a badly combined founder team. This article will tell you why it is important to have a co-founder and what you need to pay attention to when looking for the perfect one,
THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT LAUNCH A STARTUP ON YOUR OWN
Do I even need a co-founder? Our advice to anyone thinking about launching a startup – Yes, you do! Because there are several advantages to not launching alone. For one, you have increased productivity: you’ll be able to get more work done in a team than alone. Apart from the benefit of added work time, the quality of your work will also improve because you will be able to reflect on your work together and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of decisions from multiple view points.
Furthermore, you can support each other when things are not going as planned. And, of course, you’ll be able to celebrate victories together. There are always exceptions, of course. There are solo-founders who have built very successful companies on their own. but the majority of successful startups started with at least two co-founders. In our experience, investors also generally prefer teams to solo-founders.
WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD FOUNDER TEAM?
A successful founder team cannot be defined by one specific variable. There are several facets where you and your team should be similar to each other and others where you should be as complementary as possible.
The foundation for a strong founder team are shared values. Presumably, you will spend the next 3–10 years with your co-founders building your company. That’s why the chemistry between you should be work. You should be able to agree about general questions: Which work philosophy do you want to follow? How do you want to lead your future employees? How to structure your company? Also, try to find out why someone would want to launch a company with you, which goals your companion has and whether you have the same opinion on fundamental questions.
In other areas, it is advantageous to be as complementary as possible. The co-founders should be able cover the most important functions of a company as a team. This is especially true for communicating with potential customers and continuous product development. It is not crucial that the team already has all the necessary skills and experience. It is far more important that the co-founders are ready and willing to acquire the essential hard skills and develop their skillset according to the shifting needs of the company.
THE MERIT OF COMPLEMENTARY PERSONALITIES
A good team also complements each other in their strengths and personalities. If you, for example, tend to make decisions in the spur of the moment, you should find someone who tends to be more structured and analytic. For that purpose, you should be able to assess your own personality quite well, so that you know what kind of complementary profile you should be looking for. If you are still having a hard time to find suitable personalities or assessing your personal strengths, you could use a personality test.
There are a lot of personality tests available online, both free and paid. However, we recommend to not just take any uncurated free test from the internet but use a high-quality test like the Gallup Strength Finder – which we ourselves use in our team and in our education formats.
WHERE DO I FIND THE PERFECT CO-FOUNDER?
There is no secret recipe on how to find your co-partner. There is always some luck in the equation but you sure can jumpstart your luck a bit. Many founding teams know each other from school, university, or from work, but also friends or common colleagues can be a way to find the right co-founder. Events and meetups provide a good opportunity to expand your personal network of contacts. A general rule of thumb – you need shared experience. Only people who have worked on a project together for a time can estimate whether long-term cooperation will work out. How’s the chemistry? Do you have the same values? Do you pursue a shared vision? Do you have the most important areas of operation of a company c0vered? Are your skills complementary? If yes, then check!
You want to find the perfect co-founder?
In our startup school, you can connect with the other program participants. Together, you can validate your business idea and lay the groundwork for a successful startup.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elias Weike is Program Manager of the Founders Foundation Startup School and the Founders Foundation Lab. He spent the last three years in Scandinavia where he was part of varous startup programs and supported founders with realizing their startup ideas and actively networking with companies.