At times, a startup entrepreneur has a great venture idea, but doesn’t know how to go about it. Or that, the entrepreneur has in-depth knowledge as well as skills in on segment of the idea, but is lacking heavily in the other. This is mostly the situation with many startup ventures in technology – the founder is often skilled to build the product but lacks the skills to get it in the market. He fails to compete and hence loses even before he started. In cases, these entrepreneurs are on the pursuit for co-founders to help them shape their idea into a business. The problem is, many often don’t know how to start or where best to look.
First thing first, you need to understand the scope of your needs. Make sure you are perfectly clear on what skill-sets will be most needed for the success of the business, and best fill the hole in your own resume and team. In a startup, there are various roles and responsibilities within the management team, one must do an in-depth study of what role your desired co-founder can fill.
Let us take an example, you don’t need five technologists in the senior team, all bringing the same skillsets, the blend of technological skills with marketing or sales or some other skills for an operative blending of skillsets. Once the need of the role is acknowledged, now you need to find the right type of person to fill that role. Reading about how VC’s define back-able management team. It is those kind of attributes that make an ideal candidate, especially if you plan on raising outside capital. Things like the candidate’s past-startup experience, industry expertise, intelligence, credibility, passion/energy, communication skills, personality fit, etc. should are considered.
Once we know what we need and who we need, we need to know where to find them. For me, everything started with my personal network. I went on discussing about the prospects of the idea with my close friends, who would mostly be either of the following – classmates, batch mates in college or your colleague at office.
Now, the need is to figure out who do I know has a rolodex of people that could fit this role? Somebody that I trust who can personally vouch for this person. This would include people in your desired industry, people with the desired skillset or other people in the startup ecosystem who may know of logical candidates for your pursuit. Even though, he or she may be a close connection – an assurance of abilities from some known and reliable industry personal is always recommended as that a standard to his work capabilities.
Not knowing anyone in your own personal network is not much of a point to ponder for long, try to find the same type of people in your 2nd degree connections. Hopefully, someone you know can make an introduction for you, and help vouch for you and your idea with the 2nd degree connection, in order to get them to trust you and invest their time in helping you.
While looking for 2nd degree connections, few things to take note of are their habits, their professional network and a background check. After all, it is your idea, you should not risk it for someone. Background checks eliminates the risk for lawsuit on the individual that may become a financial burden to your firm. And lastly, depending on the venture – sometimes the opposite orientation maybe a boon to your endeavor.
If your connections do not work, which is least likely to happen, you have no choice but to find a stranger as a co-founder. Try finding your desired partner on startup networking websites. You can even find them at startup networking events. You can find them walking the halls of shared startup co-working facilities. There are even websites and events specifically designed around matchmaking co-founders for startups.
The last category to consider looking is to hire one and make him the co-founder on papers. Websites like LinkedIn, Shine, CareerBuilder or CraigsList or, better yet look out for technical guys in developer networks if you are the managerial face for the idea, as an example. And remember, in addition to soliciting inbound resumes from sites like these, rather pick logical candidates by directly reaching out.
For example, if you are building a travel website and need a strong digital marketer, try to identify logical candidates from Expedia or such via LinkedIn. Perhaps they are bored in their current role, looking for a new project to excite them. Or, they may know people who are looking. But, as you should when making any new hire, make sure you have thoroughly done your homework on a candidate before jumping in bed with them.
Recommended Reading: How To Choose The Right Investor For Your Startup? A Guide From An Expert.