3 Unusual Ways to Find a Co-founder

Plenty of would-be entrepreneurs crave a business partner but don't know where to look. These three relationships prove that being bold in your search can pay off.
3 Unusual Ways to Find a Co-founder
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This story appears in the December 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Image Credit: Courtesy of League

Meet-cute / The Classifieds

Mike Serbinis and Dan Leibu

CoFounders / League

In the late ’90s, Mike Serbinis (left) needed a developer to help him build cloud-storage startup DocSpace. So he placed a classified ad in the paper. “It was like: ‘Started awesome internet company! Developer wanted! Call Mike!’ ” says Serbinis. “There was no Monster or Indeed or anything like that. You either found people at a café or you went to meetups or you placed ads.” Dan Leibu (right) responded, and the pair scheduled a call. “I was totally unimpressed,” Serbinis admits. “I was like, Not the right guy.” Still, they agreed to an in-person follow-up, and face-to-face, startup sparks flew. “We immediately got into an argument, and Dan was not afraid to spar,” Serbinis says. “This was not the guy from the phone -- this was a smart, tough wolf in sheep’s clothing.” DocSpace eventually sold for $530 million, and now, two decades and two startups later, the founders are still together as they build and grow League,
a health-benefits platform.

Related: The Property Brothers Offer Free Advice On Building a Strong Business -- and a Strong Partnership

Image Credit: Courtesy of CryptoTrader

Meet-cute / Reddit

Mitchell Cookson, David Kemmerer, and Lucas Wyland

CoFounders / CryptoTrader.Tax

Two years ago, David Kemmerer (center) started dabbling in cryptocurrency trading. He loved it, mostly. “Each trade has to be reported for tax purposes, which, for a high-volume trader, is impossible to do by hand. And there was very little tax infrastructure available for crypto­currency reporting.” He turned to Reddit, where he found a community also struggling with this problem. “Someone commented, ‘I’m trying to build software to automate [the tax-reporting] process,’ ” Kemmerer recalls. He direct-­messaged the commenter to offer support. “My background is in digital marketing, so I told him how I’d market the product, and we decided to jump on a call.” That’s how he connected with the two people behind the software -- undergrad students Mitchell Cookson (left) and Lucas Wyland (right). They decided to become a trio, spent months developing and marketing an MVP, and then got a pivotal call: TurboTax wanted to partner. The cofounders formalized their operation, and expect to hire their 10th staffer by 2020.

 

Image Credit: Courtesy of Viridescent

Meet-cute / Instagram

Gabrielle Reyes and Laura Thornthwaite

CoFounders / Viridescent Kitchen

Related: How to Identify Your Perfect Co-Founder Match

Gabrielle Reyes (left) and Laura Thornthwaite (right) met in April 2019. Three months later, they opened Viridescent Kitchen, a plant-based restaurant, event space, and commercial kitchen in Plano, Texas. That speed is befitting the fast-paced world where they met: social media. Thornthwaite, a yoga instructor and cofounder of nut-butter brand the Simple Sprout, saw a clip of caterer Reyes’ vegan cooking show on her Instagram channel. She dove deeper into Reyes’ content and decided she’d be a perfect partner. “She reached out and said, ‘I’m opening this vegan space; I don’t know what I’m doing, but if you want to be a part of it, let’s do it,’ ” says Reyes, who didn’t think that was odd at all. “There’s blind trust in the vegan community,” she says. “We know we’re not doing this for ourselves.” The two proved a perfect match, bringing complementary skill sets to the business … or as Reyes says, “I run all the social media, photography, and marketing, and Laura runs all the adult stuff.” 

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