Welcome to my ultimate guide on how to find a co founder in the next 30 days.
About 1 year back roughly I came up with the idea of starting a car repair marketplace here in India. So without wasting much time I started it all alone and started getting my hands dirty in it.
Soon, after working on it for about 12 hours for straight 3 weeks. I realised that it is a lot of work. I mean building a company is some serious effort & with that, I also realised I can’t do everything on my own.
Well, then I thought maybe I need a business partner. Someone who can help me in building this company.
Or maybe I need a co-founder.
So I get down to find a co-founder who is relevant for my business.
I started reaching out to my friends for help. I reached out to people who had the kind of skills that I was looking for.
Someone who would complement my current skillset.
I spoke to a lot of my school friends, alumni, friends of friends, friends of friends’ friends.
But someone no one was committing to it as a full-time GIG.
I heard things like…
“ Oh I like your idea but I won’t be able to work full time on it ‘’
“ The idea is great but I don’t have the time and money to invest it “
“ I am getting married next year. I don’t think it is the right time to work on something like this “
” I can only work on this after office time “
But after I exhausted all my options with friends and acquaintances. I started reaching out to people through online portals. I reached to people on my Linkedin, I reached out to people on Angellist, Facebook, Reddit and many other places.
You name it and I had done.
It was only when I stumbled upon this BLUEPRINT of hiring a co-founder that I got my results in a matter of 30 days (start to finish). At first, I didn’t really believe whether it’s real or not.
But over a period of time as I got results, I started helping my friends and acquaintances with it and realised it is a system which anyone can copy and paste it to get desired outcomes.
As I got good at it I started helping a lot of people on a one on one basis with helping them in getting a co-founder on board.
But reaching to this point was not easy, I spent so many countless hours reading feel good posts on Techcrunch, Forbes, Entrepreneur and other startup media sites.
Had I known this before I would have saved countless hours in trying find, tweak and perfect the method of finding a co-founder.
Now if you are reading this I am sure you are someone who is trying to start a company or is in the middle of building something or has a product which has some level of traction, and you are looking to find your perfect ONE.
Be it a Marketing co-founder, Operations, Technology and some other type of partner.
I am also sure that like me you have also spent enough time reading material on Google, just like I did it back then.
You have read some articles, listicles, fluffy material and a bit of entertaining content but you haven’t found any concrete strategy to work with.
and that’s the reason why I wanted to write this guide to help you guys get what I had to struggle through personally and shave hours of your learning curve.
I will be laying down a system in front of you. A system that anyone can follow and get desired results like me and the people that I have worked with.
But before we get into that…
Why do you think hiring a co-founder is hard?
Because it is actually HARD.
How do I know that?
Because I have been exactly where you are right now trying to convince people to join my vision and help me in building my business.
As I told you earlier I had almost tried everything, I even feel a little bad in admitting this but I have even gone to the length of writing those half-hearted attempts of writing Facebook posts for searching a co-founder.
You know the classic “ Looking for a co-founder “ on Facebook startup forum.
I know how painful it can be reading stories of people building amazing products from scratch.
and here you are struggling to find a partner for your company.
Every single day feels as if you are running out of time….
I have been exactly at that place & I know for sure, It’s NOT a good place to be in.
But here’s the thing if I can go ahead and do it, so can you.
There is no reason why you if you follow the process in a step by step manner.
But one thing I realised that if I wanted to hire a co-founder I have to FIGURE out a way to reach out as many people as I can.
(So the more people I reach out to, the more my message gets spread out and it will bring in more people to my Funnel)
And this guide has answers to everything that you can possibly dream of while hiring a startup partner. Also, everything I am sharing is thoroughly tested and approved after working with a lot of people…
In this guide what you’ll learn:
1) How I learned to hire a startup Co-Founder.
2) How to create an irresistible Co-Founder job description that draws people to you like a lead MAGNET.
3) Mistakes most founders make when it comes to hiring a startup partner.
4) My step by step process for hiring a co-founder.
5) Mistakes to avoid when Hiring a Technical Co-Founder/CTO & programmers for your startup.
6) How you can use the same formula to assemble your own AVENGERS team.
7) Answers to your burning questions.
By the end of this guide, you’ll have a clear blueprint which you can print and save it as a reference copy for your co-founder hiring.
Now, this is a pretty long guide with 8000+ words, and it can get a bit overwhelming, but if you stay with it throughout the process and follow it sequentially, you are bound to get some results.
Okay. So let’s implement the process and start getting some results.
HOW I LEARNED TO HIRE A STARTUP CO-FOUNDER.
Now I was almost 6-8 weeks in my business and had faced multiple rejections from friends and acquaintances for getting them on board as a co-founder.
It was the time when I found this website on the internet by the name of HiringDecoder. I ran some information on the internet more about the website and found out more about the person who was running it.
It was then when I came in touch with Nikhlesh Tayal.
I got to know that he’s been doing Co-Founder and senior level hiring for startups for quite some time. I immediately reached out to him and knew he was the right person to guide on this.
Nikhilesh has had all sort of experience in this domain, he used to run a recruitment startup even before, so he had the domain expertise to get great people onboard for a lot of companies.
I wrote a short email to him explaining him about my problem and how it was slowing down my overall progress in terms of building the product.
We got on brief call and exchanged a couple of emails. He suggested me a framework and I started developing material on what he suggested me. And in a matter of 30 days, I had found my co-founder who was more than willing to work with me.
The process he shared with me was very simple, but not easy.
Once I cracked the NUT, I realised that startup hiring is very different from other types of regular hiring. Usually what happens is when you are a small company, people don’t know much about you, so it becomes very hard to get your message out there.
And It becomes really difficult to attract high-quality talent
Think of it this way.
If tomorrow UBER has to do a senior level hiring, they can do it easily because they have the money & muscle to do it. And more importantly today UBER is big as any public company so the trust level is really high with potential recruits.
But it is tricky when you have fewer resources to work with.
Nikhilesh taught me the art of turning your brand into a lead magnet and using it to get high-quality prospects.
Imagine how cool it would be if you could get your next potential co-founder on autopilot mode…
Sounds cool. Right?
We created an irresistible job description which attracted high-quality talent from all across the country.
Here’s the link to the post. It got me so many likes, shares and comments that I still get emails referencing this post. And not only this, this single post helped me in attracting potential senior employees, CTO and other key hires as well.
Imagine this one single post and I got my results in a matter of 30 days.
Imagine how powerful this one post could be if it can get you the highest order of talent wanting to team up with you & build a cool company out of your idea.
It’s like assembling your own AVENGERS team.
HOW TO CREATE AN IRRESISTIBLE CO-FOUNDER JOB DESCRIPTION THAT DRAWS PEOPLE TO YOU LIKE A LEAD MAGNET
I see this all the time on Facebook forums, people looking for co-founders & write a small 50 words notice message.
These messages often look like…
Notice how the messages don’t convey anything specific here.
The whole point of a job description is to flow like a story, and cover things in an end to end format.
It should be a peek into you, your company and your brand.
The #1 mistake most people make is they speak all about what they need from the prospect but very rarely they give detailed info about themselves, company and other details.
The more you make it about them, the better it would be.
Otherwise, it is simply asking people to share your workload and get a payout and some equity in return. You get that everywhere, but what’s special about you, that’s what people want to know.
That’s why crafting a perfect job description is the key to attracting high-quality talent.
A perfect job description should have few things in it…
- Story: The Job description should be an insight into the kind of person you are, What have you done in the past, Your accomplishments (even if they are small), your failures (this displays more vulnerability and humanness around you) and bind them all in an easy to read story format, just like you do in your interviews.
- Why you are the best person: you should also explain why you are working on this opportunity right now and why you are the right person who can solve this problem better than anyone else. Get detailed & specific as you can.
- Inspiring: The undertone of the job description should be inspiring, something that evokes interest in the reader and makes them read end to end.Think of how Elon Musk inspires the world by explaining his vision about what he wants to accomplish for the world. Now it’s not important to have a vision as BIG as Elon Musk but writing an inspiring story should do the job for you.
- What they’ll get: Get really specific on what’s in it for them instead of focusing on your benefit. When you focus your story like a sales copy, people will get drawn to you as if you are speaking directly to them and it will work like a melting copy that persuades them to buy in your story.
- Who is this for: It’s important that you make it clear who is this position for. When I made my blog post I wrote I made it specific enough so that I end up attracting the right people to it.I mentioned 4-5 pointers of people who’d be FIT for such a position and that did the process in eliminating substandard applications.
Side Note: Please for god sake, don’t mention I need people from Stanford, Yale, IIT and IIM. If you do that chances are high that your post might be reported and turn up into a hate post instead of getting HOT leads.
- Who is this not for: This one is more important than the last one. With Startup funding and valuations momentum going through the roof, all of a sudden starting up has become sexy.While all of that is fine, what has started happening is that a lot of tourists have started coming to the startup world. By tourists I mean people who are not very serious about building companies and are here because it is sexy to work in a startup.The kind who will run away when it gets hard.
Ideally, what you should be looking for is someone who has the ability to take the pressure and can deliver under tight circumstances.
So that at the first sight of resistance they don’t run away.
Back when I created my first draft I had to go through periods of revision to make sure that the messages stands out and attracts the right kind of prospects.
Here’s the job description that I created and got lots of comments and likes from the community.
Pay some attention to why this worked and how can you model the same and get desired results.
So if you have created a rough draft for your job description share it with friends and ask them for feedback and keep tweaking until you get it right.
MISTAKES MOST FOUNDERS MAKE WHEN IT COMES TO HIRING A STARTUP PARTNER
I will start this by asking you a quick question.
Are you part of a Facebook startup group?
And have you ever had the chance to look at the kind of Co-Founder finding posts people make over there?
I am sure you’d have seen those posts, the kind that I shared above in the post.
I doubt if those sort of posts will ever attract high-quality prospects.
Now I don’t know about every forum but Facebook & other top forums like Reddit have a simple rule, the more engagements your posts have the more they’ll promote.
Engagement meaning likes comments & shares.
But posts like these are never going to get any sort of attention. They’ll never get noticed by the right prospect.
Mistake #1 Half-Hearted Effort:
Most of the posts that you see on forums start with ” Looking for a rockstar Co-Founder ” or ” looking for a passionate Co-Founder ”
If you are looking to attract some serious talent, please refrain from using buzzwords and focus on being creative and unique.
Buzzwords in a co-founder job description are as bad as bad breath in the dating world.
If you put in that kind of effort and end it in 20-30 words, no one’s going to join you. Make it unique so that it gets more engagement and stands out among other posts.
Mistake #2 Not Sharing Your Idea:
A lot of times we founder feel hesitant in sharing our ideas.
I mean we all have been there, but ask any experienced guy in the startup world and they’ll tell you ideas don’t mean anything, execution is everything.
So you should be ready to share some details about your idea. So that it attracts the right set of people.
For instance, you are working on an Idea based on A.I. technology for automotive industry, you should write a bit about the idea so that the potential founders that you attract are the ones who are either known to automotive industry or have some knowledge in the world of A.I. (Depending on the type of partner you’re looking for)
Mistake #3. Jumping In Too Early:
This is the most common mistake, and I am sure somewhere in our journey a lot of us have made this mistake.
I once read this amazing quote by Neil Strauss which totally made sense to me
“In the dance of infatuation, we see others not as they are, but as projections of who we want them to be. And we impose on them all the imaginary criteria we think will fill the void in our hearts.”
And finding our business partner is almost like finding a life partner, sometimes we overlook the minor things because we get infatuated by other dominant traits.
The idea is not to hurry, but be calm and tactical in the selection process.
Start with a trial period and see how the other person can add value and how you can figure out a way to work together. If not, then keep looking and find a suitable match for you, but don’t settle on a low hanging fruit.
STEP BY STEP PROCESS FOR HIRING A CO-FOUNDER
The whole process of finding a co-founder can be done in a matter of 8 easy to follow steps.
I have tried to make the process as detailed as I can so that you can read it and apply it right away. So let’s start with it.
The #1 reason why it is so HARD to hire co-founder or to find any level of senior talent in startups is because very few people know about your company.
Founders and startups usually don’t have any credibility in the marketplace. Because to the outside world, you’re just another website. And that’s where you need to start first.
You need to start getting featured in media and publications. You should start getting your story out there, (your personal story and your company’s vision) the more you get it the more people will trust you.
Media mentions will add social proofing to you and your company.
Few tactical steps for building your brand…
a) Story Section (website): Instead of writing a boring About us section on your website, write an interesting ” sales letter ” story to the reader.
People love listening to stories and that’s how they remember brands. Your story should be unique and captivating right the start so that when people read your about us section, they mentally start qualifying themselves whether this company is for me or not.
It also helps in filtering out non-serious candidates because lately a lot of non-serious people have started flocking to the startup world because of its glamour. So by mentioning things specifics, you can weed out the non-serious candidates right away.
Your About us section story should cover the following.
What have you done till now?
Why are you solving this problem?
Why is this team (founding team) the best people to solve this problem?
How the founder came up with the idea and why now is the right time to solve this problem?
Share a bit about the evolution of the product.
Lastly, you should also specifically mention about the kind of people that should join your company and who should NOT join your company.
Basically, you need to build a story which you can tell to the world.
If you see all top entrepreneurs, all of them have a story about their company and a vision about what they want their company to achieve.
1) Travis Kalanick (Uber, Co-Founder):
If you hear his story he’ll always mention that he wants to create low costs transportation and generate jobs in different cities of the world.
2) Mark Zuckerberg speaks about connecting the world.
3) Elon Musk speaks about building a sustainable future.
Now these stories are simple and easy to communicate and that’s what you need to do, create a story that’s inspiring and draws people into your culture and the work you do.
You can even learn more about hiring people and building story for your company from Sameer Guglani
(Please watch this video to the very end. If it doesn’t work, please
click here to get access to the video.)
b) Getting PR/Media Mention For Your Startup:
It’s simple and easy to implement sort of write up which you can do it yourself.
This will help you in establishing more trust with your prospects.
CREATING AN IRRESISTIBLE JOB DESCRIPTION
I have already mentioned about this at length in the job description part.
But we’ll take up some examples here in this section.
Now you might disagree with the style I have used or Nik has used, but the reality is that it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have a structure and write straight from your heart.
A perfect job description should have few things in it…
a) Story: The Job description should be an insight into the kind of person you are, What have you done in the past, Your accomplishments (even if they are small), your failures (this displays more vulnerability and humanness around you) and bind them all in an easy to read story format, just like you do in your interviews.
b) Why you are the best person: you should also explain why you are working on this opportunity right now and why you are the right person who can solve this problem better than anyone else. Get as detailed and as specific as you can.
c) Inspiring: The undertone of the job description should be inspiring, something that evokes interest in the reader and makes them read end to end.
Think again of how Elon Musk inspires the world by explaining his vision about what he wants to accomplish for the world. Now you don’t need to have a vision as larger as Elon but you can write an inspiring story and that should do your job.
d) What they’ll get: Get really specific on what’s in it for them instead of focusing on your benefit. When you focus your story like a sales copy people will get drawn to you as if you are speaking directly to them and it will work like a melting copy that persuades them to buy in your story.
e) Who is this for: It’s important that you make it clear who is this position for. When I made my blog post I wrote I made it specific enough so that I end up attracting the right people for it.
I mentioned 4-5 pointers of people who’d be FIT for such a position and that did the process in eliminating substandard applications.
Side Note: Please for god sake, don’t mention I need people from Stanford, Yale, IIT and IIM.
If you do that chances are high that your post might be reported and turn up into a hate post instead of getting HOT leads.
g) Who is this not for: This one is more important than the last one. Please make this section really specific so that you only attract serious prospects to your posting.
What this does is, it starts setting expectations upfront, so that people know right from the beginning what are signing up for. If you have written a detailed and well thought out job description, odd are that it will do the work.
For example, if you are looking for a CTO, it should be written with so much specificity that it only attracts high-quality senior talent vs Aspirational junior developers applying for it.
Startup hiring is hard because finding talent who is willing to commit time and energy to building a company is rare to find. And finding such talent in conventional job portal is like finding a needle in a haystack, you can find them there but there are better ways.
So the question is where can you source high-quality co-founder applications?
Usually, people who are crazy about working for startups can be found in the following forums.
- Facebook Startup Groups: Find all the startup chapters and forums in your local area and country and share it your job posting over there.
- Reddit forums: Search for local startup chapters & co-founder forums over there.
- Tech Magazine forums like Hasgeek
- Co-founder Hiring Forums: Co-FounderLab & FounderDating etc.
- AngelList: Lately AngelList has been working great for startup hiring.
- Paid Advertising: You can run ads on Facebook and LinkedIn with a budget of $100 each, and you’ll get high-quality applications.
- Alumni: Sharing your job post in your alumni groups can be really powerful. you will find a lot of interested prospects from there.
- Referrals: Referrals and asking your friends to share can help you a lot. Imagine if you are able to get the right set of people to share your job posting, you’ll get a lot of high-quality applications.
If you have written a great job description, the chances are that people who’ll like your job post will share it with their friends and recommend people to you. I have seen this happening in my case where I got a lot of applications through recommendation and shares from my friends and acquaintances.
If you can ask people who are more active in the startup community to share your post, chances are you will get high quality of applicants in your funnel. Adding simple things like asking people to share the job description can do wonders for you.
You could add this to your job post.
“ It’d great if you could share this with on your Facebook and LinkedIn, it will help me in reaching out to the right person.“
Once the distribution part is done, our next task should be to filter out bad applicants.
But how do you filter out bad applicants?
By introducing qualifiers in every step And you can do this right away from the job posting stage.
Now I created a simple qualifier for my job posting. This qualifier was necessary as it separated top performers from the average ones.
In the last line of the job post, I mentioned this how to apply process…
“ How To Apply:
Tell me your story, Why would you like to join us, what excites you about this venture, what is your belief system, what do you do for personal growth, what is your skill set? What have you worked on in the past?
Don’t expect a reply if you simply send in your CV or ask questions in the comments section below. We want to know who are you and if you share the same vision or not and have the right skill set for it. Send an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com “
Now I got a lot of people through comments, messages, calls and other ways even after I made it clear in the application process.
I pointed them in the right direction and asked them to follow the process yet very few of them sent me an email. But then I realised that’s the difference in top performers and average performers.
The best applications I got were the ones that landed straight in my email box. To give you an idea once I ran the ad posts on several communities and ad spaces this is what my final stats looked like.
- I got about 200 odd applications.
- 52 Emails.
- 15 calls/meetings.
- 8 In-Person Meetings
- 2 Shortlisted Candidates for trial
- 1 Final Recruit.
QUALITIES TO LOOK FOR IN A POTENTIAL CANDIDATE.
Now before you commit to working with someone, you should always take it slow. If you FEEL doubtful, don’t commit. There is no test to measure this, but it is a simple GUT feeling, if you don’t feel right with the person, then you’ll develop troubles in the future.
Trust your intuition.
The thing about the right person is that they’ll STAND out, right from the first point of contact.
There are some ways which you can use to weed out UNFIT prospects.
You can test certain things like…
a) Email: If you observed my job description process, you should add the application process through email only. Only the applications that are sent via email will be accepted.
Now since the process for applying is email. A lot of people will apply through the normal application process, but the top performers will always email you if you have mentioned specifically in the process.
So, you should look out for the Emails that you receive.
Observe the email, how well structured is it, Is it to the point or not, Fluffing around, Grammar Usage, Sentence structuring and other qualities that stand out as a good intro email.
This is what a top performer email looks like.
b) Intro Meeting/Call On Short Notice:
Again this is another qualifier in the process.Whenever you are trying to look out for qualities in a prospect, you should check whether the person is fast paced and adaptable, because startup environment is such that you have to be fast paced and make quick decisions.
You can even list down the qualities that you are looking for and test the person on that but in my case, I specifically was looking for this so I created a qualifier around it.
So a quick method I devised to check whether the person is right or not was to get them to meet or get on call as quick as possible.
Now the intention isn’t to actually get on the call and do a one on one interview with all seriousness, it should be more of a get to know each other call/meet.
But the idea is to see how responsive and FAST paced the person is. If the person can’t respond with speed on urgent calls or meeting on a short notice. It will become difficult for him/her to work in a fast-paced startup.
Also, the faster the response the more willing the person is to join a startup.
c) Discussion About The Product:
Now, this is a very subjective topic, but as a founder, I believe you can understand this better than anyone else. When you speak to your prospect, try to get into deep meaningful discussions about your product.
If you’re at the product stage or traction stage ask them about how you can improve a certain part of the product, depending on who you’re recruiting.
If you are recruiting a technology guy, then ask them questions relevant to the technology part of the product.
If operations guy then ops.
If marketing then the marketing and advertising part of the product.
And if you are still at the idea stage then ask them for cues on how to build the product and how you can evolve your idea into a minimum viable product.
Ask them questions about what they’d change or add to the product depending on what type of person you’re dealing with.
And see the kind of quality and valuable inputs they add to the discussion. A good guy will stand out even during the interaction phase, ask them detailed questions about how have they solved a certain problem in their last organisation.
Because there’ll be times when the person you meet will be great on paper but ‘ Meh ‘ when it comes to the discussion part and the opposite can be true as well.
Your first interview should not have a formal setting structure but try to make it a casual conversation and ask specific questions related to your needs.
Asking basic questions like.
a) Why do you want to join us as a co-founder?
b) Do you think you’re at the right stage in your life to start a company?
c) What are your plans for the next 5 years?
At this stage, it’s just like a first date.
Finding the right FIT.
When you are questioning them, you should also ask them about their expectations because it is good to do expectation setting in advance.
Ask them about what do they expect in terms of role, job, responsibility, capital contribution (if you are looking for it), ideas and core cultural values.
With my case, I found there were few non-negotiables which I couldn’t compromise on. I wanted the following things.
- Similar mindset
- Cultural Values
- Belief System
For me these things were super important, If these things are in place, rest can be dealt with ease. but when I say that I am not undermining the importance of other parameters. 😀
In my case what I found was my partner & I held almost same values when it comes to running a company. So it was an instant FIT right from the beginning.
ASSIGNING A PROJECT
The best way to check a person’s long-term FIT is by working them on a small project basis or giving them a trial period to work with you and your team.
By assigning a project you will get to know the person’s ability to deliver and execute on projects.
Ask them to prepare a 100 Day Roadmap of the division that they are expected to handle. The 100-day test is a great way to check their skillset. You will get a teaser of what to expect if they come on board.
Ask the person to prepare a report of 100-day roadmap & ask them to submit it within a week’s time. A good way to see the level of proficiency is by seeing the quality of the report. Does it have clear specifics, timelines, resources required and what will be the end deliverables look like?
For example, you can hand them over a project on growth.
Ask them to prepare a plan on how to grow product to 100k traffic a month or getting 100k users by next month with $0 marketing spend.
Similarly, you could create such projects for other divisions as well and test your candidate’s proficiency level. This is the again one of the qualifiers that I spoke about even before & it worked out really well. It will also help you in differentiating between a seasoned manager and a newbie.
Once your prospect has passed the 100-Day roadmap test, you can then test whether you want to work with the person or not. If yes, then you can get the ref check part done for the prospect.
What I have found is that the best way to do background verification is to do through Linkedin connections and through third party agencies.
Third party agencies like KPMG Global can help you with this.
If not, then you can google, “ Employee Verification Agencies or companies “ and you’ll find a lot of companies who can help you with it.
There are 2 types of verification which you can do here
a) References Provided By The Person:
To ref check, you can first speak to the contacts provided by the person. Speak to them about your prospect’s ability to execute and asking more questions about behaviour and cultural FIT in the last company.
You should do checks with a minimum of 3 people at least.
b) Cold References:
Usually, cold references can be checked by agencies but if you want to take charge of it, you can do it yourself by reaching out to the people who are in the person’s LinkedIn list.
Try to avoid speaking to people who have given testimonials/recommendations to your prospect, they’ll be inclined to give biased reviews and also your prospect would know about it.
Try to speak to someone who has worked with them in their last to last company or someone who has worked on similar projects/levels with them.
Prepare a list of questions which you think are important for you and ask them in a quick chat manner.
By now you have settled down to 1-3 candidates whom you like and they also want to work with you as a team.
Now If you pick one person and ask them to join you that wouldn’t make sense because that way you won’t get to the test the other candidates. So ask your candidate to work with you for 7-15 days with no pressure and no expectations, if it works out fine, you can continue working with each other and discuss compensation and other benefits.
This way you will not have the pressure to commit to the candidate even if it doesn’t work out well for you guys. Ask the prospects to commit to work for a period of 7-15 days.
Because it is easy for them to take a leave for 7-15 days instead of committing full time to something which they are equally apprehensive about. And you can take it from there on. If you like a certain person, you can then make an offer to them and ask them to join you.
You can ask them to take a leave and work with you full time on it, this way you’ll get a feel of working with them, and the other way around as well.
Discussing equity, vesting rights, shareholder rights everything is irrelevant to this point. That should only get in the picture once you guys work with each other and develop a liking for each other’s working style.
Once you have finalised the person after your trial period, then you should give them an offer. You can use tools available in AngelList to allot them a fair share of equity, compensation, benefits and vesting period details.
Try to include them in the discussion and ask them what’s a fair compensation according to them and allot them something that’s little higher than the industry standard.
It is very important for them to feel well compensated because if they aren’t these issues can pop up later and cause problems for you. So try to work out something that’s fair for all the parties so that they feel motivated for the cause.
After working with a lot of single founders and what I have noticed is that If you are hiring a core team member and if they don’t feel well-compensated chances are that it can cause issues in the future for your company.
And that’s the last thing you want to happen between the core team. So it’s better to address these issues beforehand.
Think about it. If you are getting a high skilled person on board.
What all are they sacrificing?
Are they sacrificing money?
Are they sacrificing in terms of their career growth?
Are they sacrificing in terms of their personal life?
If they are making sacrifices like you, they deserve to be rewarded well.
You could do the following to get the proper onboard in your company:
- Adding to company communication: Slack, Email, Trello, Google apps
- Sharing private folder: Folder like Google Drive & Dropbox etc.
- Creating fresh logins for salary account, HR documents (offer letter, ESOPs letter, salary slips (when required) and other documents.
- Adding a new laptop and workspace.
- Sharing important documents related to business strategy.
MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN HIRING A TECHNICAL CO-FOUNDER/CTO & PROGRAMMERS FOR YOUR STARTUP
I know a lot of you have been waiting to read this part. I feel some of you have already skipped the whole post just to read this part.
So how do you hire a tech guy…
So there is no secret to hiring a tech guy, Hiring a tech guy is same as hiring an operations or marketing guy. There is no rocket science to it.
Of course, the process and approach are different but the basics that work for other co-founder search are the same that work for a Tech co-founder.
You have to be aware of who are speaking to, so try to speak in their language and try to use the terminology they use to understand business and product building. I have noticed on a lot of forums a lot of people actually confused between what a CTO really is, and whether they even need one or not.
I feel most of the founders don’t really need a CTO, what they are saying here is “ I don’t know how to build a website but I need someone who can build the website for me, while I take care of the Business building part “
CTOs come to a company at a very later stage, what they need is a Vice President (Engineering), who can help in building the portal (the web and mobile platform) and can help them in developing systems for scaling.
We all know that hiring great tech talent is hard and hiring a tech co-founder is 10x harder, but if you are clear about what you need for your business then it’ll be easy for you to get one.
“ Great developers are like pandas these days, it’s very hard to find one “
So the question you should ask yourself is any developer who is worth his salt, why would he join you? What should be his motivation to join?
The answer is the same your job post should be inspiring enough for people to compel them to write to you.
But there are stages.
If you are at the Idea stage it will be close to difficult for you to find great tech talent.
If you are at the Product stage, maybe it will interest people.
But if you are getting some traction and have users/paying customers. Your chances of getting and attracting getting talent will be higher.
Because great engineers are hot property, they are being pitched ideas every weekend and they get almost numb to the idea of joining a startup. So if you have numbers to back up your idea and have claims, you will get a lot of high-quality applications.
So, if you are waiting to start, don’t wait, start building your product, hire a freelancer or hire part-time developers and get things going.
But please don’t wait for a magical CTO to appear in front of you.
For part-timers, you could find them on tech platforms such as HasGeek, Facebook groups and AngelList free search option.
HOW YOU CAN USE THE SAME FORMULA TO ASSEMBLE YOUR OWN AVENGERS TEAM
(Imagine if you could have a team of amazing people who have powers like superheroes. Sounds cool. Right?)
Back when I started my company I never thought that in search of co-founder, I would be able to assemble a great core team as well.
But then I thought ah, what’s the main theme that’s common between hiring a business co-founder and senior level employees.
To be honest there is really no difference in it. It’s the same thing, they all buy your story. Everyone wants to buy your story, so if you can narrate a great story to a targeted group of people. They’ll be drawn to it.
Truth to be told the blog that I used to get my co-founder was the same blog post that assembled my core team. It was so effective that it did a lot of social proofing for me and people started applying to join my mission and that was probably the best thing that happened out of that one single post.
But even later, hiring people in other roles as well, I realised that this format works really well.
And then writing and floating the same story type format to people on different job posting forums. You’ll get the same responses and people will apply to your job postings in the same format and selection will be the same format.
So in all probability, you’ll get high-quality talent using the same framework without employing expensive recruiters. 😉
ANSWERS TO YOUR BURNING QUESTIONS
Q. How many co-founders do you need?
A. There is no fixed rule as to how many co-founders you need to start your company. In the initial stage, a company needs 2 types of people; builders and sellers.So you have to hire people accordingly and see who is the builder and who is the seller. But there is no right or wrong answer to this, but still, I will lay down my understanding and you can take your call from it.
Single founder companies are hard, it’s extremely hard starting a company on your own. But that doesn’t mean that it is not possible, Mark Zuckerberg has built Facebook as a single founder, and there are several other companies where single founders have done the job.
But it is extremely hard.Usually, two founders work the best, so that one builds and the other one sells. Two is good. Three is manageable (inching towards difficult), Four is inching towards politics.And anything more than four is asking for trouble.
The lesser the number of founders the faster the decision making, otherwise there is a lot of ganging up that starts happening and decisions get delayed.
And you want to avoid getting into a lot of time waste and micro activities in the initial stage.Try to keep it to 2 co-founders, if not 2 then 3 should be the ideal number that you should be looking for.
Q. How to split the equity?
A. So as far as splitting the equity is concerned, I have mentioned it before as well to the right person, the equity isn’t even the #1 factor, that doesn’t mean it’s not important. It has its own place but what’s important is the love of building the product.So as far as splitting is concerned, whatever amount you split, it should feel FAIR to the person, on the financial level and psychological level.
So that in the future even if issues arise, the person doesn’t get up in the middle of chaos and say I am leaving because I don’t feel well-compensated w.r.t to my workload.Try to optimise to make things work instead of fighting for 1-2% of equity.
These things won’t matter much in the longer run. You can carve out equity on a host of factors such as Money, Skills, Risks, Who’s the CEO, work is sacrificing more etc.
Q. Who will be the CEO?
A. The one who has a slightly larger share of equity should ideally be leading the company because in the end if all else fails someone has to take a decision that’s in the best interest of the company.Being a CEO can be the toughest job that you’ll ever have, a lot of people will deny it some will fight for it, and then some will decline for it.
You’ll have to deal with a lot of things which you don’t like.For example: Fundraising, Settling employee issues, Conflicts within the team, Reporting to investors, Answerable to employees and board etc.So the person that gets picked should be a responsible candidate and someone who can lead the company in the right direction.
Q. What skills do you need to be in a founding partner?
A. To get hired or to hire a person for the founding team you have to have someone who has a good idea of how to run a business. We’ve discussed about it before, this needs to be taken care of during the job description creation level.You need someone who has a good behavioural FIT, Flexibility, ability to execute and someone who can work FAST.
A lot of times people come to startup world for the glamour of it because starting up sounds sexy these days. Your goal should be to get the right people in the company who are serious about building stuff.
Q. Should you compromise on a co-founder?
A. I don’t think you should compromise on a co-founder. Because if you get an incompetent person onboard it can cause problems for you and your company. Startups are usually small companies where you build the company based out of nothing but an idea, and idea requires a lot of hard work.And if the core team person can’t keep up with the work pressure or can’t deliver at speed it will cause issues in the whole company structure.
It is better not to have one than to find someone who is a misfit in your company. But I think finding a cofounder is a lot like dating for men, because if you look at it if you are a man and you aspire to succeed in the dating world, you need to run a lot of volumes to get some level of success.
Similarly, if you’re a single founder or someone who is looking to get a founder in your company, try to get as many people (high quality) as you can in the funnel so that you get some level of success in terms of hiring.
Q. How to decide how much salary to give?
A. Well, it depends on what stage are you introducing the person and also depends on the expectation of your partner. In my case since the person was coming as a full-time co-founder, he didn’t expect a salary and he was happy to pump in money and time as well in terms of contribution.
But I have worked with a lot of people and have come across situations where the partner coming on board needs a salary to start with. So it really depends on how you can negotiate and mix and match.If you are a funded startup you can really afford to pay a salary, if you’re a bootstrapped refrain from paying a salary but try to convince them to take home a survival salary.
If it still doesn’t work out try to give them a little more equity and strike a balance out so that both of you are in a win-win situation.But again, when the right guy comes all these trivial issues will be ironed out automatically.
That’s all from my side, I hope you go out and these methods and find a co-founder for yourself.
A QUICK FAVOUR BEFORE YOU GO
One more thing before you go – if you enjoyed this guide, I’d love to ask you for a quick favour.
If you know someone who has been through a similar struggle in terms of hiring a co-founder please please please share this with them.
To do that, all you have to do is share this link with them, where they can view and download their own version of this guide [ Insert link ]
And of course, if you feel that this needs to be shared with more people, you can share it on social media using this link or even through your email list.
If you feel like doing that, here’s a quick script you can use to do it:
I just read the ultimate guide on how to find a co founder (I read it and loved it). It’s an excellent guide filled with actionable content, word-for-word scripts, examples and templates.
It covered a lot of things like…
1) How I learned to hire a startup co-founder.
2) How to create an irresistible co-founder job description that draws people to you like a lead MAGNET.
3) Mistakes most founders make when it comes to hiring a startup partner.
4) My step by step process for hiring a co-founder
5) Mistakes for hiring a Technical Co-Founder/CTO & Programmers for your startup
6) How you can use the same formula to assemble your own AVENGERS team
7) Answers to your burning questions
You can check out the guide here! [ Insert link here ]
If you do end up sharing the guide, feel free to tag me in your post :).
And if you find your co-founder, please keep me posted I’d love to hear your story and will share it with more people. I love helping people on hiring co-founder, so I’d love to hear from you as well.
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