Arguably one of the most important decisions when starting a company: who are the co-founders?
Recently I’ve become fascinated in how co-founding teams are formed, and how to spot pitfalls early on. I’ve been chatting with many successful entrepreneurs and mentors about the topic. Specifically, how do you vet the co-founding team as best as possible before embarking on a new venture? This is even before equity, bylaws and other details are determined. Here are some valuable questions I’ve gathered from my conversations:
- Have you known each other and worked together for a long time? (Well beyond the work-friend phase.)
- Do all founders share the same vision? (Have each write down their interpretation of the vision and compare.)
- Are all founders committed 100%? (Define a schedule of milestones.)
- Is each founder a proven entrepreneur? (Previous ventures? Proof can be non-monetary.)
- Can you predict how each founder will act in most situations?
- Do you trust each founder to make a decision on your behalf?
- Can the team easily discuss tough issues?
- Are all founders in agreement on who’s in charge? (There is always one founder in charge.)
- Are any of the founders easily replaced? (Why are they on the team? Why are they unique?)
Of course, not all of these have to be “yes”, but a majority of “no” answers may be a warning sign. Weaker founder candidates can still join the team, but under different terms.
Any additional wisdom is welcome.Read more →