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‘Having a co-founder doesn’t reduce the effort by half, it almost reduces by 1/10th’’ was the perspective of a friend who was the single founder of a successful startup. The figure which he arrived at may not be the exact one but his intent holds very true in a startup. No wonder that a lot of incubators stress on this – the founding team. Ravishankar of Interviewstreet also has shared the same perspective that what mattered to the Y Combinator panel was the team.
And the onus doesn’t end there!! It is just not important to have a great co-founder but also it is even more important to sustain the co-founder. A peak into Noam Wasserman’s research gives you some alarming facts about the founder’s issues. As much as 65% startups hit the roadblock due to the differences which crop up between the founders.
A quote from the CNN article regarding the stepping down of Pinterest co-founder “It’s not uncommon for startups to shed some of their early founders as they grow. Twitter, for example, has played musical chairs, with most of its founding team stepping down last year.” sums it up all.
Not just retaining the employees but the founders should also do a timely check on what’s happening with the co-founder as well.
Here are few pointers which you would like to care while planning to make it big.
Why are you both actually starting-up?
The motivation for starting a business can be categorized under love for an idea, making money, getting fame, building something big, doing something different (pardon me if I have missed anything else!!). Nothing better than finding a co-founder whose motivations match with yours. When a co-founder’s motivation is just of making some big money, you should ask him questions like ‘Would you opt out of the company if someone wants to buy your share for X rupees? I’ll actually say X dollars (sounds more cool isn’t it?). And in fact that’s nothing wrong in there, if he/she says “Yes”. Asking these questions will only help you to handle situations in future (and save you from the background music (Havell’s ad) shock laga laga laga shock laga laga laga).
Best friends are not necessarily best co-founders
Yeah true!! Just because you guys studied in the same school and were hitting on the same girl doesn’t make you great business partners. Good friends definitely have a great financial flexibility between them but doing business has got to do a lot more than just managing money. And moreover, in most of the cases, a good amount of friendliness and sympathy can also come in between when having to do the hard talk. So, before you get your best friend on board talk to him on various issues which are crucial for the startup’s sustainability.
How do you complement each other?
What if both of you are coming from a marketing background and have little technical knowledge? Are one of you willing to run that extra mile and understand the technical aspect of the business so that even if your rockstar developer quits one fine day, you still can manage to run the show?. So most importantly, your co-founder should understand that he/she needs to fill in the gaps.
What if one of the co-founder starts to under-perform?
Well this is not an earth-shattering issue, as it is human for people to go through that rough patch once in a while. But, it would turn out to be an earth-shattering issue (at least for that particular business) if nothing is being done about it. The best call to action in such scenarios would be to talk to him/her about the situation. Explain about the big plans you have for future, tell him how a friend of yours is excited about the whole concept, narrate to him some inspirational stories, so precisely make him get excited about the idea altogether once again. And yeah don’t curse me if things still are the same even after repeated sessions of these kind. It’s high time you show him the exit.
And of course am guessing there are more points to add to this checklist. So, startups do your bit before finalizing on the co-founder. To alert you more, remember the famous lawsuit filed by Eduardo Saverin against Facebook?
Now don’t look at your co-founder with that suspicious expression – instead talk about these issues and clear the air (if any) and come out as an even stronger team.