Thursday, October 30, 2008

What's in a Cofounder?

I’m currently recruiting a cofounder for my new startup, and I'm in talks with a couple of people. The choice of cofounder is the most important decision I'll be making anytime soon, and I've thought a lot about what the ideal candidate would look like. Below is a list of criteria I came up with.

  1. Honest and open. It's important to work with people you can trust, especially under the pressure of a startup. I’d like to work with someone who is open about their feelings and intentions. A low-drama person who doesn't avoid confrontation if it leads to better decisions.

  2. Technical ability. Specifically, this is the ability to make sound technical decisions, and to implement a large part of the product in high-quality code. The controlling variable for the success of this startup depends on that we can launch and iterate a useful product quickly, and my cofounder needs to contribute to that in a major fashion. Ideally, my cofounder would have a degree in computer science, and work experience in an engineering-centric environment such as that of Google or Microsoft.

  3. Long-term commitment. I don't want to pull a build-and-flip, and the current environment has made that scenario very unlikely. I can imagine staying with this company for decades, and I expect that my cofounder make a multi-year commitment after some initial period. If after a month, we discover that it isn't working out, that's OK, but I want to avoid the drama of a cofounder bailing when the company is in full swing.

  4. Enthusiastic about email and messaging. I believe that this is a field full of billion-dollar problems. I would like to work with someone who shares my optimism.

In the beginning, a large majority of our time will be spent hacking, but we’ll both be spending 10-25% of our time on business stuff. In YCombinator style, I’d like to work out of an apartment. Living and working together is the most effective way to get a product out quickly. We could stay in San Francisco, but I might want to move somewhere around San Mateo, which is strategically situated close to investors and potential employees, and provides fewer distractions than the city.

It's in our best interest to understand each other's styles before we embark on this journey. I'd like to chat, hang out, and work with potential cofounders for four days to a week. That should give us enough time to see if we gel.

If you're interested, drop me a line. Please include your resume.


Chris Wand said...

I think this is implicit in your "Long-term Commitment" criterion, but entering into a co-founder relationship is a lot more like marriage than it is casual dating. So, it goes without saying that you want a co-founder you can have fun with, one who you like (and who likes you), and one who you respect. Life is too short to start a company with co-founder where the relationship is purely business and devoid of the ability to enjoy each other beyond that. Back in my consulting days, this was called the "O'Hare test". Because we traveled so much together (and because getting stranded is a part of travel), we wouldn't hire people we wouldn't want to be stranded with in O'Hare for a few days. It didn't matter if they were smart, etc. they also had to pass the O'Hare test.

Felipe Costa said...

I'm curious...

How many application did you get?


Felipe Costa said...

and more...

Why you NEED a Co-founder?

If YOU have the vision, YOU have the ideas, YOU have the technical knowledge... why you don't hire advisers instead of a CO-founder?