Questions to Ask as a Potential Co-Founder

Many times a solo entrepreneur comes up with an idea and looks to bring on one or two co-founders (I’m a fan of no more than one co-founder). Naturally, the personality fit and complementary skills need to be there. Even then, alignment and understanding should be spelled out in a simple document. As someone interested in becoming a co-founder, here are a few questions to ask:

  • How are we going to divide up roles and responsibilities?
  • What’s on the horizon for the next 30/60/90 days?
  • How are we going to split up the equity?
  • How much cash is in the bank?
  • How much money do we need to raise and for what percentage of equity?
  • What does the business model canvas look like?
  • How has the customer discovery process gone so far?
  • What will the first 10 customers look like?
  • What will the first 10 hires look like?
  • What lifestyle and family commitments do you have?

Any answers that aren’t immediately available represent good exercises for the potential co-founders to work through and get to know each other’s style. If you’re going to potentially spend thousands of hours with a person, it’s important to spend time up front and make sure it’s a great fit.

What else? What are some other questions to ask as a potential co-founder?

3 thoughts on “Questions to Ask as a Potential Co-Founder

  1. Personally, I feel that you should have some knowledge of the potential co-founder before going over such questions to have a better grasp of the future. Just like a job interview, you really have no way to determine if the person is sincere or if he or she is just telling you what you want to hear. The best co-founder, in my opinion, is a goof friend. By a good friend, I do not mean someone who has always been there for you when you needed him or her. You should have some extent of emotional history with this individual because there will be a time when you and the co-founder will clash heads and face serious challenges. Having this history, you would be able to dictate how things will go when the going gets tough.

    The questions one should ask him or herself about the co-founder should be

    1. How long have I known this person?
    2. Has this person done anything negative to me? What was it? Was it out of spite?
    3. Are we able to work together? If not, why not?
    4. When I argued with this person, what was the result? Was it handled in a mature manner?
    5. How different are his or her views from mine? If they are too alike, can that truly benefit the company?
    6. Can I trust this person?

    I completely agree with your post, it is important to spend time up front and make sure the relationship is a great fit. If someone selects a co-founder solely for the idea of having someone else on the team or if there is too much emotionally attachment to include this person because you feel obligated, you would only set yourself up for failure down the road.

    1. I think your questions are the first batch to ask….they are all about your ‘relationship’ before you begin (and often it is husband and wife….so yes EXCELLENT questions to ask).

      The second lot of questions are the ones in the post.

      But ultimately whichever co-founder you have decided upon, for sure there will be bumps along the way, and if you are married to the person as well, …..hold onto your hat, there will be a lot more liberties taken than you want. In some ways it can be better, and in some ways worse. It all comes down to the quality of that relationship.

      Ultimately I would recommend no partnerships….it’s harder, but at least you know you are the one in control.

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