FINDING A CO-FOUNDER
Some founders look for co-founders who have a different skill or have experience in a different area. For example, if you have a technical background you might want to find a co-founder with business experience. In this section we’ll share ideas for how you can go about finding the right person.
Your network is the first place to start
Your immediate network is the best place to look for a co-founder and it can help you find someone you can trust. You’re headhunting for the most crucial position in the company, so do your homework. If you have a good number of friends on social media, look for their job roles and description on their profiles. If the person is in your immediate network, have a conversation with them.
Attend networking events
If your network is not ideal for finding a co-founder, the second-best option is networking events.
Oman hosts a growing number of startup events, networking events, workshops and meetups for business communities. The Oman Startup Hub has made a list of workshops.
There are also several accelerator programmes run by Omantel Innovation Hub and coworking spaces such as Al Rud’ha.
Prepare a pitch
When you’ve met a potential partner, you should have a powerful elevator pitch ready (see module 1 for more on this).
Your pitch to a partner should summarise your idea’s unique selling point and help them understand your idea. Unlike investors, who are likely to focus on finance, co-founders tend to join a startup that they can relate to – for instance they will be drawn to a startup whose mission they are passionate about.
A good framework you can use is Geoffrey Moore’s positioning statement:
- Our startup is for… (your target customers)
- Who are dissatisfied with… (the current market alternative)
- Our product is a… (new product category)
- That provides… (the problem you solve )
- It’s unlike… (the product alternative)
- Because our product… (describe the key features)
Talk about contribution
Discussing contribution to the company is one of the most significant decisions of your partnership. There are several issues to address.
Firstly, talk about the cost of joining a partnership. Decide on the amount of equity you’re willing to give up. If you already have a working startup with revenue, you’ll have a valuation tied to the business, even if it’s at an early stage. Partners typically invest money toward the company based on the equity that they have. However, it’s best to discuss the financial contribution and whether they’re willing to do so in the future.
Discuss whether the partnership involves any salary. Typically, startup founders share equity and therefore will not need to draw a salary. Nevertheless, if you already have good cashflow, you may want to save your equity and have a partially salaried partner to reduce the equity you share with them. Having salaried business partners can save a lot of money and protect your equity for future investments in the larger round.
Sharing equity doesn’t always mean sharing the amount of profit you make. Profits may also be divided based on contributions, seniority, type of shares owned or a combination of all four. You can share the profit equally among the shareholders, in which circumstance, the losses will be liable equally to all business partners.
You must take ownership of your business. You need to create a company hierarchy and have the responsibilities divided among all the partners and employees. You will first need to create departments responsible for different roles, such as marketing, administration and engineering. You should ask other partners to take ownership of the department.
In a small startup, partners tend to share different leadership roles. But if you have a developer partner in the team, they’re likely to take ownership of the engineering department and act as the chief technology officer.