How to Find the Perfect Co-Founder

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Q: What is the best way to find a co-founder? We have tried matchmaking co-founder websites, along with networking, but I can't find somebody who is really committed. What else is out there?

-Jaron Hall
Murray, Utah

A: This is a tough question, as there is no easy answer. Before I offer up suggestions, ask yourself if you really need a co-founder.

If you are seeking a technical co-founder, because you don't have those skills, you could consider teaching yourself how to code. It is not as insurmountable as most fear. Plus, it empowers you to engage with your technical team, as you hire and build.

Related: How to Recruit a Great Programmer as a Partner 

That being said, if you do need a co-founder for another skill set, you don't have the time to learn to code or you are just looking for someone to help make decisions, here are a few things to consider:

If you are in a major city, especially one with a growing tech community, there are regular events centered around finding co-founders. Go to meetups, startup-cocktail hours, meet people who are a part of accelerators and get involved. Also, collaborating with people you meet on projects can lead to opportunities that didn’t present themselves before. 

Compatibility is key.
When looking for a co-founder, the most important attribute is compatibility. Some companies last longer than marriages, so you do not want to be joined at the hip with someone you can't get along with or won't pull her own weight. A great way to make sure it will be a good fit, is try each other out. Before signing away equity, see how well you both work together on projects and day-to-day tasks.

Be straight up about equity.
You need to think about how much of the company you want to give to your co-founder, and make sure you have those conversations early on with her. There is no single infallible formula when determining how much equity to give. No matter what that number you choose, it’s pivotal to have frank and honest discussions. Otherwise, you may run into problems down the road.

Related: How to Manage Your Business Partner

Keep in mind vesting schedules.
When you offer a co-founder, or anyone equity, you are giving this person a share (stock options) of the company. This person doesn't receive the options immediately, but rather on a vesting schedule -- they receive a little bit the first year, more the second year and so on.

Startup shares usually vest over a period of four years, which means that you (and your co-founder) are making a long-term commitment. But keep in mind, those four years can go by quickly. In some cases, co-founders may wish to part ways once their equity is fully vested. It is important to be aware of all of those dynamics.

Just like finding the perfect spouse or partner, seeking out the right co-founder is tough. It's imperative to be social, get yourself out there and know that the first person you meet with may or may not be the perfect fit.

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