Characteristics to Look for in a Co-Founder

Continuing with the recent co-founder posts on equity and the high cost of a third co-cofounder, there’s another important topic: characteristics to look for in a co-founder. I’ve seen many co-founder relationships come apart after starting a company due to lack of compatibility and alignment. Basically, there wasn’t enough understanding and relationship building before getting married.

Here are a few characteristics to look for in a co-founder:

  • Owner Mentality – Is the co-founder willing to forgo salary to keep the lights on? Will they put their house up as guarantee on a business loan?
  • Commitment – Do they understand just how hard it is to be successful? Are they willing to grind it out for years to see some level of modest success?
  • Skills – Do they have exceptional skills that are complementary? Are these skills hard to come by or highly valued? How relevant and proven are the skills?
  • Values – Do they share the same core values? How about personal, family, and life values?
  • Personality Fit – How well do you get along? How confident are you in spending thousands of hours working together?

A co-founder is a big decision. Entrepreneurs would do well to outline the characteristics of the ideal co-founder and then compare those against the person(s) they have in mind.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the characteristics of of a co-founder?

2 thoughts on “Characteristics to Look for in a Co-Founder

  1. re: “what else”: very strong interpersonal communication ability. Must be able to talk through anything that comes up so the founders can get on the same page, even when they disagree. Can’t get overly defensive. It’s like a marriage in that way.

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