But having a co-founder can certainly be a big advantage, in terms of vetting ideas and offloading the work.
Yet there’s a problem: How do you find the right one? It’s certainly not easy, especially when looking for technical co-founders. They are in high demand and often have many side projects.
So to get some perspective, I talked to a variety of successful tech entrepreneurs. Here’s what they had to say:
Mark Lucas, CEO, mySudo
“Deciding on a co-founder was more than simply locating someone who can write code and engineer solutions. The person must understand the vision and share your passion for the business. He or she must be willing to take risks and sacrifice time, without knowing the outcome of the efforts.
“So how did I go about doing this?
“Once ready to sell my vision, I went to where the technical resources are. In Rochester, I attended tech startup meetups, developer meetups, and networking events. I took my time, and eased into the relationship.
“I found a great potential co-founder, and got him engaged in the project in phases. First, it was to help build a spec and estimate for the application. Next it was to build a detailed requirement document with use cases. As we started working together, we slowly began to build a relationship and realized we shared the same passion for the idea.
“Today, I have 3 co-founders across design and technical operations and together we’ve secured funding for the startup which will launch in the coming months.”
Peter Bauer, CEO, Mimecast
“It is critical that you have at least a 30% skill set overlap. I don’t think a non-technical CEO and a commercially naive CTO will easily build a success together. They really have to both enjoy the overlap as well as the distinctions between their skill sets and interests.”
Brian Halligan, CEO, HubSpot
“Ultimately, there needs to be mutual respect on both sides, not just for the individual, but for their role. Business oriented co-founders who think technology is just a means to an end and it’s just a matter of outsourcing it to the right outside firm will fail to attract a great technical co-founder. Similarly, technical co-founders that think ‘business types’ are a necessary evil are also misguided.
“The most important thing when forging an early startup team is communication and clarity among the founders. They need to ask themselves the hard questions. What do we want out of this company? What do we do if someone tries to acquire us? How do we feel about outside investors? What happens if one of us decides to leave the company? Who gets to fire one of the founders — under what circumstances? How will we compensate the founders? There are many questions that co-founders should be asking each other.”