Trust, a shared vision and an eye for detail: how to find the right cofounder for your startup

The right partnership can make or break a startup, but an event in Sydney next week is aiming to bring together different sections of the startup ecosystem and help them with the necessary skills to find the right cofounder.


Benjamin Chong, who is a partner at Right Click Capital and will be speaking at the event, told StartupSmart often people don’t know where to begin when it comes to choosing a  business partner.


“A lot of people have come chatted with me about it,” he says. “The big reason is because building a business is really difficult to do alone. The opportunity to find people who are like minded and who can help grow your business together is an acute issue for many founders.”


Chong says there are commonly two types of cofounders: those who are very tech savvy, and those with more of a business focus. The trick to a good partnership is clear communication and bridging the gap between the two different types of thinking.


“I think it comes down to trust,” he says. “And trust, as in all sorts of relationships, occurs over time. So even if they work together on a trial basis to see if things will gel, then this trust can develop.”


Another thing that can be helpful, according to Chong, is having a clear goal to work towards.


“If there’s a shared vision of wanting to change an industry, at least they can rally around that,” he says. “I don’t think cofounders need to be the best buddies. But they need to have enough of these shared values and the shared vision so that the foundation of trust can happen.”


Chong says he believes a good startup team is made up of cofounders that bring together technical capability, good business sense and domain expertise.


“I would say the best cofounders are the ones you’ve worked with before,” he says. “And in the absence of that, what you want to do is check out their references – so people they’ve worked with previously.”


This way you can find out how the potential cofounder reacts under pressure, as you want to know what you’re getting yourself into. Chong uses the analogy of a marriage: there is a process of getting to know one another before “jumping the gun”.


Chong says it’s always a good idea to have one or two advisors who are close enough to the cofounders to understand what is going on, but far enough removed from the situation to give sound feedback or a second opinion.


“Sometimes if you’re really close to something it’s difficult to make a more balanced, impartial decision or assessment,” he says.


Image credit: Flickr/flazingo_photos


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