The 7 Truths About Co-Founders

To accurately describe the co founder role is getting harder and harder these days.  It’s changed alot in the past few years, and is really becoming increasingly popular.  Even more what I wanted to address in this article, is traditional mindsets on the co founder role…and if you’re one of these traditional folks, you’re not going to understand what’s coming in the next generation of startups.

Truth #1: What A Co Founder Really Is

Before I go any further, I think we need to address what a co founder is.  Wikipedia defines the co founder as a joint founder.  It means the company was founded together by these two individuals.  Which is why I recently found the title for one of Venture Hacks articles, How to Pick a Co Founder, a little odd.

I really don’t believe you do pick a co founder.  9 times out of 10 the founder & co founder are already working together, and had the idea together.  You don’t say to yourself one day “I’m going to have a fantastic idea, and found a company…so I better pick a co founder”.  More than likely, what happened was this:

Truth #2: How the Startup was Really Founded

You (the founder) had an idea.  It probably just began as a little light bulb during a discussion with someone you’re working with, or a good friend.  You threw it out there (because your friends or working with this person, and they can be trusted enough to be told a crazy idea that popped in your head).  Then the person receiving the message probably got excited, and encouraged further conversation on the subject.  In fact, it’s usually the co founder’s excitement that encouraged the founder to move forward with the idea.

I know it happened this way with myself and my co founder; and honestly…there is no telling which one of you is really the founder or the co founder.  In our personal situation, the co founder role was only taken by one of us because people look at you funny if you have two founders.

Truth #3: Trust Between the Founder & Co Founder

Like we see in the typical establishment of founder and co founder, trust is almost always previously established between these two.  If you didn’t trust them, you wouldn’t have felt like you could throw out a crazy idea without being laughed at.  Now whether or not you can trust them to commit just as much to the startup is a different story.

If you’ve worked together (particulary starting a business together) then you should feel comfortable enough with your co founder’s commitment.

Truth #4: The Founder & Co Founder Relationship

I also read an article on about their top 30 under 30.  I noticed most of these founders have co founders, and the startup was usually founded as an extension of their social life.  The trend is increasing among younger founders everyday, and I’d honestly have to say we’ll be seeing co founders become big players in the startup world soon.

Truth #5: Investors Need to Adjust to the Changing Times

What this means for the outside world is adjusting to this.  When an investor meets a founder, and is foregoing on the founder’s bare resume (but expects to see an extensive resume on the co founder); this is really unrealistic.  A co founder is usually of the same breed and background as the founder.

Truth #6: A Startup Is No Longer a Hierarchy

Traditional views are looking at a startup as a hierarchy; and this is no longer the reality we’ll be seeing in years to come.  You may hear a traditional investor come back with “well, this over complicates things for me because now I have negotiate with two founders”.  And this investor is very wrong.  Here’s why:

Truth #7: Founder & Co Founder Usually Act as One

One may be the talker, the other may be more silent…and you may think they have opposing mind sets or one doesn’t do anything.  This is very wrong, and is a large misconception.  What outsiders don’t typically see is that every decision is made behind closed doors with a founder and co founder.  They always come to an agreement, and act as one.

So an investor will really be negotiating with both the founder & co founder.  But he’s only going to think he negotiated with one of them.  He’ll probably find himself confused, thinking one must be submissive, or the other must be controlling.

Such is a skill of great Entrepreneurs anyhow :) .

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