Close to 60% startups fail because of cofounders fight, rather lack of coordination among them. I recently met few cofounders and asked them basic questions around the company, product vision and importantly, the target segment that the product is reaching out.
To my surprise, the cofounders (and this is a Series A company) had totally different view (rather, poles apart). It reminded me of the blind men and elephant, where in each one touches the different part, compare notes only to learn that they are in a complete disagreement (and that seeds the fight).
Starting up is a long-term partnership and like a marriage, it does require the cofounders to understand each other, respect each other’s working style and importantly, agree to disagree.
“Agree to Disagree.”
Who will be the face of the company? Who will gain the most media attention?
Whose job is it to chase investors and close deals?
Who is responsible to ensure that product lives up to the marketing hype (if there is)?
Who owns what? Who gets to decide what?
These are questions that founders need to agree on at the very beginning and importantly, agree to disagree when things don’t turn out as expected. For instance, Sachin Bansal was the face of Flipkart for a very long time. He had to let go of the role to his cofounder, when some of his strategies didn’t work as-expected.
Can you hire a cofounder?
I see several founders posting ads mentioning that they are hiring a cofounder who is good at a certain technology and is willing to work for very less cash (and some equity).
Sorry. You aren’t looking for a cofounder. You are actually looking for someone with a certain skill set and you don’t have money to pay him/her (let’s just admit that).
And that’s not a cofounder role. Cofounder is your best friend and your biggest critic !
Great cofounders sit together and solve bigger issues (no matter whether they have skills to do or not).
Great cofounders learn together and help each other, as the company scales.
Great cofounders don’t blame anyone. They take any glitch personally and find solutions.
You don’t hire a cofounder. You discover them through various channels (common friends, common interest etc).
Recommendation for founders:
Define success metrics clearly. For all the tasks that each one of you owns. Measure against numbers and deadlines and not on soft metrics.
[Reproduced from my weekly column that's published in City Express - a supplement with The New Indian Express]