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Buddy System

Can a great college friend prove to be an equally good business partner?

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This story appears in the October 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

So you're thinking of starting a business with one of your very smart, very cool college friends. Maybe he's your roommate, or perhaps you met her in a business class. It might even be a group of your fraternity brothers or sorority sisters who all want to start a business together. While it sounds like the perfect kind of partnership, is going into business with a college buddy (or buddies) really a good idea?

For the co-founders of Chili Willy's, a quick-serve Mexican restaurant in Hamilton, New York, their friendship proved to be a perfect recipe for entrepreneurship. Chris Nordsiek, Preston Burnes and Matt Brown, all 21-year-old students at Colgate University in Hamilton, became friends during their freshman year. The three initially came up with the restaurant idea for a business plan competition during their sophomore year. Because Nordsiek, Burnes and Brown have different strengths and skills, going into business together seemed natural for the friends. "For the three of us, our strengths are very different," says Nordsiek. "We all have a different perspective, and between the three of us, we can [identify] any hole or problem [in the business]." Being in the same fraternity for a full year before starting the business also helped the team really get to know each other.

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