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Why Ex-colleagues Can Be Great Start-up Co-founders Having worked together, ex-colleagues-turned-co-founders know each others' qualities that could further help them in their start-up

By Sanchita Dash

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In an entrepreneurial journey, finding the right co-founder is the most crucial element. Starting up is not a momentary investment, so one has to make sure that the person they are starting up with has the same zeal and vigor for the idea. While some get lucky, there are also many stories where a start-up has had to call it quits because of the irreconcilable fights between the founders.

Now, haven't we all heard stories about companies starting from a discussion over chai between two colleagues? Well, it seems the chai pe charcha here at least is being taken seriously. Start-ups are being born out of cubicles of corporate where employees who are friends and have worked with each other, decide to be co-founders and start their own business.

Entrepreneur India spoke to start-up founders who have their ex-colleagues as co-founders as they explained why this arrangement works.

Greater Level of Understanding

In the ever-changing start-up environment, the founders have to have the right compatibility. When you are working in a start-up there's high pressure and often the founders are seen pulling off all nighters. And when the pressure is already high, one wouldn't want the founders to be at each others' head right?

Ranjit Punja, Co-founder and CEO, CreditMantri, too believes that in a start-up where there is loads to be done and the early stage is quite unstructured, having co- founders who relate to each other and share similar work ethics, definitions of what is good and great is a life saver. It cuts down endless hours of debating on what is ideal, and this remarkably reduces work conflict, he said.

"The Citi gene pool (all of us co-founders are ex-Citibankers) meant that we were wired similarly for how we treat customers, service delivery, personal standards of output and outlining the basic performance-oriented culture. We also very clearly knew what we did not want to make mistakes with - quality of people we hired, the open and non-political work culture," said Punja.

You Complement Each Other

Having a like-minded person as your co-founder is always the best bet for your start-up dream. But finding this perfect individual can be a herculean task. One has to look for a person who can bring complementary skills on board and also have mutual respect for each other's capabilities.

Pavan Pudipeddi, Anand Katragadda, Naveen Chava, started PowerSquare Inc and they had worked together at Texas Instruments. "Even though we worked in the same organization with the similar technology background, we had different roles and specializations. What bound us together was our deep-rooted love for technology and the passion to convert complex technology into simple things which can be used by every consumer around the world," he said.

Pudipeddi believes there are many advantages to having ex-colleagues as co-founder, in his case they were also his childhood friends.

Meanwhile, Punja said, "It helped us that as a co-founding team, we had pretty complementary skill sets and did not endlessly debate the trivialities or have inputs on areas of expertise which the other founder was there for. Did not really have to second guess, we would not trade this advantage for anything else."

You Know Their Strengths and Weaknesses

Having worked together, ex-colleagues-turned-co-founders know each others' qualities that could further help them in their start-up. As ex-colleagues, Pudipeddi remembers that they have gone through tough times together and have strived arm-in-arm for the big wins. "That is the great advantage of having ex-colleagues as your co-founder. You know them well - their strengths, their weakness and the innate trust, that they have your back," he said.

As a start-up it is very important for the co-founder(s) to align on the goal for the company, yet also have the ability to adapt as the vision changes from time to time. "As with any start-up, I knew about the challenging journey ahead and was positive that they would be the right partners who can sail through any rough storms and also have the perseverance to look out for the clear skies," he said.

Sanchita Dash

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Senior Correspondent, Entrepreneur India

In the business of news for 5 years now. Making my way across India thanks to my career. A media graduate from Symbiosis, Pune, I have earlier worked with Deccan Chronicle (South India's leading English daily), T-Hub (India's largest incubator) and Anthill Ventures (a speed-scaling platform). 

Stories, movies and PJs are my thing. 

If you hear 'The Office' opening score randomly, don't worry it's just my phone ringing. 


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