100X.VC's Founder's Dating
The process of finding and on-boarding a co-founder is as difficult as it is important. For some founders, the missing set of skill sets that they are looking for may not always be in their own network. In such cases, expanding your network through events is a largely underrated alternative to find people with good synergy. Events, conferences and seminars organized by academic institutions, industries, incubators, accelerators and VC firms are some great ways to find potential collaborators, experts and sometimes even early clients.
At 100X.VC we are constantly on the lookout to solve the problems faced by early-stage companies and finding a cofounder is one of the bigger roadblocks. Founders’ Dating is a not-for-profit initiative that we started to mitigate this roadblock.
The aim of the co-founder discovery platform is to help every entrepreneur launch their idea even when the desired skills to build it are missing. We do this by connecting start-up founders with individuals talented in the skills that they are looking for. Typically, we understand the geographical constraints in finding a co-founder and limit it to a 2-hour city-specific in-person event.
However, with most avenues of networking having been affected in the 'new normal', we decided to take up the challenge of organizing our first-ever Online Founders’ Dating event. With over 600 registrations, the event was held for a curated group of 20 startups and 30+ experts from Business, Technology, Finance and Marketing domains.
On boarding a co-founder is a multi-step process. At our Founders’ Dating event, it is our objective to use our network to provide you an opportunity to have at least 10-15 conversations with potential co-founders.
Do you even need a cofounder?
It is definitely possible to start a company as a solo founder. In fact, 30% of companies we have invested in so far were started by solo founders. However, the benefits of having a competent co-founder far outweigh the perceived cons.
Contrary to popular notion, a good co-founder at an early-stage company is someone who will increase (and not decrease) the workload. That’s how you set the foundation for growth.
Soon after they raise their first cheque, when a lot of growth opportunities open up, solo founders often realize the value an experienced set of hands can bring in. After all, having the right set of skills at an early-stage can make or break a business. Having a co-founder is not only for managing the work but also is important to manage the emotional burden of starting a company.
Who makes a good co-founder?
The first place you should look for a co-founder is in your own network- friends, colleagues etc. Arguably the best and the most common place to meet your co-founder would be at college. Following this closely, would be your workplace. The context and the commonality that these places offer is great for founders. So, list out the most appropriate people in your network, drop your inhibitions and make them real offers based on what you’re setting out to do and how they can help you.
Typically, you would be looking for a match in terms of work ethics, hustle and complementary skills. Having worked together priorly on a project helps you understand how well you can work as a team and how well you communicate, both of which are massively important. From an investor perspective, founders who have had successful collaborations in the past provide very good affirmations that they are in the game for the long haul.
It is also for the same reason that investors appreciate an equal equity split. Quite often one of the founders would have started working on the start-up for 6-7 months before bringing a co-founder on board. Even in such cases all the founders should look at equal stakes and set clear their expectations and respect for each other’s skills in building the company over the next 8-10 years.
Planning for the Future
You and your co-founder are the backbone of the company, on which the rest of the team hinges. Your decisions will resonate within the organization for years to come, even after you have exited. It is important to strike the right balance at all points of time. With a co-founder, that process is significantly simpler. As a team, you can create a holistic impact on your team, your distributors and vendors, your clients, and, of course, your investors. Starting out is no mean feat - a co-founder is someone who will keep you grounded, even as you push each other to raise the bar toward success!
Published on: October 22, 2020