Having a new idea for a new product or service is exciting. You probably won’t be able to get too far on your own, however. You will probably need a co-founder. Co-founders can help to offer experience, resources, and financial support. Some estimates say that having a co-founder makes a start-up three times more likely to succeed. Finding a co-founder can be difficult, however. So, how do you go about it?
Offer More Than Just an Idea
Most people who would be a good co-founder have ideas of their own. Working with someone else may mean looking for someone who has an idea that is similar to yours. Similar enough, at least, for both of you to give and take. This can sound scary, but it will probably make your idea more effective and marketable.
You and your potential co-founder should both have something unique and practical to offer beyond money. If you’re a business person, you may need someone who knows technology. If you know technology, you should find someone who can handle the money side of things.
Have Something to Show for Your Effort
Ideas are worthless without good execution. By the time that you go looking for a co-founder, you should have more than an idea. You should have a plan.
By this point, you should already have some form of funding. It doesn’t have to be all of the funding you will need, but it should be something. You should also have some market research done. How many customers can you expect? How will you reach them? &c.
You should also have something to show for this research. Do you have an MVP? Do you have a wireframe? Do you have some sort of leads already? A business that has agreed to back or promote your product? Co-founders are in their own competitive market, and the more you have to offer when you go looking for one, the more likely you are to stand out.
Begin Looking at Your Existing Networks
Some of the best co-founders are people that you already know. Think about people that you work with, or perhaps friends. Old colleagues or chums from school are good places to start. These are people that you don’t need to look far for. They are also people that you already know and trust.
Keep in mind, however, that the above rules still apply to friends and colleagues. Friends and colleagues make good co-founders but only if they have the financial backing or marketable skills.
If you already belong to social or professional networks, consider starting there. These may not be people that you know particularly well or have particularly strong trust in. They are, however, people that you have access to. They are also people that you know something about. They are people that you have something in common with.
Meeting with people in person is a good way to find a good co-founder. Meeting in person shows commitment and allows you to get to know each other personally.
It is easier to meet potential cofounders if you are in a large city. Some smaller cities can have advantages if they have social and technical centers like universities. These kinds of cities usually already have their own social and professional networks. You may or may not already have access to these networks. They can be valuable sources of potential co-founders and collaborators.
Find Online Communities
If you are not in a large city or are unaware of where to look in your hometown for co-founders, consider looking in online communities.
There are a number of online communities that specialize in connecting potential co-founders. Examples include cofounderlab, Founder2be, and foundersbeta.
Look for Startup Events
Online communities can also be a way to find events where potential co-founders can meet and greet to discuss these ideas.
If there aren’t events like this in your area, consider starting one yourself. This can be a big job. It might not kick off quickly. Chambers of commerce, community organizations, business incubators, and other groups can help you.
Start at Universities
As mentioned above, universities can be good environments for finding co-founders. Universities often have inventors, economists, advertising experts, and other business experts. While these individuals are naturally focused on teaching, they are also oy are also often interested in conducting business.
Contacting universities about starting co-founding events can be daunting. The first step, unless you know someone at the university, is to visit its website. University websites have loads of information. Perhaps most important is the directory. This can help to direct you to the right people. Consider resources like the alumni house or centers for college outreach. Going directly to the president or even to the dean of the business school may not be the way to go.
Post in Job Boards
Finally, you can look for co-founders by posting in job boards. This can be done just like you might do it for any other position. Posting want ads or classified in your local paper is a good way to go. Some communities even have a free version of the classifieds. While this might not be the best way to meet big-ticket investors, it usually costs less than posting in the classifieds in the regular paper.
Your community may also have other locations for job boards that may be more appropriate.
Finding a good co-founder can be difficult. The level of difficulty depends on factors like your idea. It also depends on factors like where you live. The best way to go is to start local and start small. Try to work with people you know and people near you. If you can’t find anyone that fits these descriptions, consider utilizing community resources.
If you are not able to find a technical co-founder, you can try a service like Code Ventures – which is a startup studio for non-tech founders and is connected to Armia Systems
If you can’t find a co-founder in your community, consider looking in the online community. In the meantime, try to get creative. Chances are there are other people like you near you. Your community just doesn’t have the infrastructure for finding them. Chances are, your community will thank you for starting the conversation. These efforts can help you by finding a co-founder, but they can also help your community. Once your community has an environment that encourages these networks, it will encourage business.