Joshua Tabakhoff

Should I have a cofounder?

2019-09-25 – 5 minutes

As cofounders, you need to be looking in the same direction — Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash You all need to be looking in the same direction — Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

As a maker, there is a very familiar question we all have at least once in a lifetime. Should I have a cofounder?

Granted, this is a great question to ask when starting a new project but isn't it not better to ask you why?

Why would you want a cofounder?

Having one or more cofounder is great if everyone shares the same vision of the product and you don’t deal with a crisis every morning.

First, it depends who. Who should be your cofounder? A friend, a family member, a random person? You shouldn’t choose a cofounder based on sentimental connection with them. Questions like: Is this person reliable? Does this person have a core understanding of the business and can fill a gap with their skills?

It also depends on the project size: if you’re just getting started with a side-project, it may be great to just keep doing your things on your side and not spend time looking for someone to depend. Do your best. If you think you’re going to grow quickly and you need someone to be there for you and deal with your potential mental breakdown then yes, it’s way better to have someone on your side. This someone must be someone you trust, deeply trust (don’t lie to yourself). It must be someone physically available for the business too, not just to getting entitled but also getting their hands dirty when it comes to working. Having the opportunity to divide tasks and responsibilities can be crucial at some point.

My best advice is to try. If you think you won’t be able to do everything by yourself then go, find someone you trust and think will be a great partner.

Different cofounders

Throughout all my projects, I've met different people and different characters. Here’s a list of what situations you may encounter.

The useless — it’s the kind of cofounder that is not doing much. They think they are doing a lot of work or even never finds the time when it comes to the project but has plenty of time when it comes to shitty activities. Identify them early on and move fast, they can make you loss your motivation.

The entitled — it’s the kind of person who needs a title to shine. Basically, they come to you when they see there’s an opportunity to be recognized by its pseudo-peers in a community. They act like they are interested in what you do and understand your mission/vision but once they’re in, you may even forget they are part of the project. This is also the kind of person that will stab you in the back sometime. It’s easy to identify them, they are mostly inconsistent and unstable. Don’t let their reality distortion field reach you.

I’ve quoted the worst cases here but I’ve also met truly unique and awesome people.

The twin — This is one of the best one, you know without any doubts that you will progress both in life and in the business with this person. It is or will be one of your closest friends. With all the ups and downs of this kind of journey, you will cross all these problems. Sometimes you already are friends and you might have faced issues but they’ve been overcome. You know both the darkest and brightest side of the other so you know what to expect and how the other will behave.

The catalyst — This might not be your cofounder. You have this project in mind since weeks, months or years but have never executed. It’s the person that will tell you “What do you need? How can I help you getting things done?” and there you go. It’s the person validating your idea (for the better or the worse) that will push you one step forward. As an opportunity, you don’t necessarily look for it but when it comes you get it and act.

Take care of the noise

Throughout your journey, you will meet a lot of people. Some in real life, others virtually. Most of them are, in my opinion, good people with great intentions but you will meet inevitably wrong-minded people. Now that you have overcome most of your early problems and that the project now shapes itself, they’ll come up to you and try to take a seat inside your rocket ship. Be aware of them, most of the times close people will try to do this without you even notice while you’ll notice more easily when it comes to new connections because you’ll be more aware. Be meticulous when looking for new profiles to join your product, this can run against you: you may try to pull up someone and they’ll just pull you down.

In the end, don’t worry that much about finding a cofounder. Start alone and then find people to fill the gaps in your skills. You already know it’s going to be a great journey, don’t have any fear and one project will lead you to another one and so forth. You’re just getting started, gather all your own experiences to find your perfect fit.

It’s been a long time since I wanted to write this article and I’m proud to finally have done it. If you want to learn more about cofounders, I really like this video from Startup School 2019.

Thanks to Minal C. and Ali Salah for proofreading this article, they both did an amazing work!