What’s the best way to find the right partner for my new startup?

QUESTION:

I’ve yet to develop or launch a new Web 2.0 startup. How best can I search for a partner interested in such a venture?

ANSWER:

Naomi Kokubo

Naomi Kokubo

by Naomi Kokubo, Cofounder of Founders Space

Before you dive into finding a partner, you need to ask yourself what you need from this partner. Is it money? A specific expertise? Business connections?

What type of partner (or partners) you need will determine where you look for this person. You may find that you actually need two partners, one for helping you with engineering and another for marketing. It really depends on the nature of your business and your personal skill set. Or, you may find it’s better to go it alone. In many cases, taking on a partner whom you’ve never worked with can be a disaster.

Trust me, it pays to be careful before choosing your partner. This is like a marriage. You don’t want to just tie the knot before you know a lot about this person. Before you look for someone, go through your address book and think of all the people you do know and trust, who might make better partners. The best partners tend to be people you’ve worked with in the past. Former coworkers, bosses and business associates make ideal partners. The more you know about these people and the closer you’ve worked together, the better.

In addition, you need to know what you have to offer. An idea usually isn’t enough. Remember, when you find the right person, you have to sell them on your vision. If they’re any good, they’ve got lots of other opportunities, and your opportunity has to be the most attractive. In order to recruit the best people to your team, it pays to spend a significant amount of time flushing out your business model and product before running around trying to find someone to join you.

Here are a few more pointers:

1. Network in your industry. Get out and meet as many people as possible.

2. Tap into your network of friends and see if they know anyone.

3. Post on CraigsList or similar job boards. Industry specific job boards are best.

I hope this helps!

Comments & Advice:
  1. Budha Has says:

    In an indian context, arranged marriage works 🙂 Which kinda means, that you gotta trust your parents' judgement as to who your Spouse is gonna be. i.e., the families have to get along well together, and there are more things keeping the groom and bride together should they have fights.

    Can you draw the parallel? 🙂 Have a mentor/father figure in the industry who you really really trust? you may want to take some advise on who could be a potential partner.

    Another point, paperwork can ensure that you have your pre-nup signed, and that there are enough unforeseen circumstances taken into account, while getting a partner. Get a non-compete, non-solicitation, termination, vesting, and all carefully thought through, and written down in pen and paper. Also, the expectations from each other, milestones, compensation for non-achievement of milestones, protective provisions (eg: Right to participate in a few key decisions like issuing of fresh stock, hiring key managers, voting rights, who has what power in the event of liquidation etc) between the 2 partners should someone be owning very little equity etc. And finally once done, be willing to trust each other, and work together, and make space.

    🙂 Good Luck !

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