Over 90% of 50 leading start-ups which used to be incubated in Y-combinators by 2019 shared that they had the co-founder accompany them in the starting up stage. 85% of top 20 prominent start-ups in Danang get the same sharing. Even large corporates such as Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Founders have Co-founder’s companions in the early days of starting up. So who is a Co-founder? How does a start-up find a suitable Co-founder? The answers will be revealed in the lesson below. 

  1. Who is the co-founder?

Co-founder can be considered as the “co-founding one”, sharing mutual responsibility and realizing the start-up project.

  1. Importance of a Co-founder in a start-up

  2. In terms of work

Imagine you are a Founder whose only specialty is business and finance. After a while, you wish to develop a project in the technology field. At the moment, looking for a tech-specialized Co-founder is a necessity for the project’s success. It is time that the Co-founder plays a role as a missing piece in the start-up’s organizational system, helping to share the workload, search, evaluate ideas as well as contribute critical decisions with multi-dimensional perspective. 

  1. In terms of mentality

Entering a new path, which is a fresh challenge, there will be times when founders become so discouraged that they give up owing to obstacles, hardship. The “co-founder” instantly seems like a rare “soulmate” always standing by your side. Occasionally they get rigorous opinions in some cases; and vice versa, once in a while they can spot bright or positive sides in a problem. Also, they are the one understanding the feeling you have experienced the best, and acting as a solid spiritual support when you need them.

  1. Compulsory qualities of a Co-founder in a start-up

Co-founder must be the most appropriate person, not necessarily the most excellent one.

  1. Founder and Co-founder must have the same goals, understand the mission and vision of the project being pursued. 

If any members show their will to join your Start-up, ask them 5 times why they love to do it. They want to jointly advance the project, afterward to maintain revenue, profit; for example, or they hope to “build” together for “sale”,… These things need to be discussed and agreed from the beginning, serving the basis of a long journey.

  1. Co-founder must be the puzzle piece filling in the Founder’s blank. On the other hand, the Co-founder is an expert in areas that the Founder lacks.

Crucial roles in start-up include: (1) building products (2) attracting customers (3) selling products to customers. Founder perceives himself and which of (1), (2) or (3) he can do the best, next will look for a co-founder for other duties, it is optional to have 1 or 2 co-founders yet according to experience it should not be more than 3.   

  1. Co-founder must be the one who dares to take risks, has crisis management capabilities and gets through mental stress. 

  2. Where to find a Co-founder?

There are top 3 choices below compiled by Danang Business Incubator based on actual research and observation, especially those relevant to the Vietnam market, Start-up Founders can contemplate. 

  1. Through personal network

The survey shows that in 15% of top 20 prominent start-ups in Danang, there are co-founders who are founders’ wives, husbands, brothers. The rest of 60% share they have co-founders as school mates, old colleagues. The figure is similar to Y-Combinator’s survey that nearly 70% Founders look for Co-founders through friendship and colleague relationship. Therefore, building personal bonds and networks from the early times, learning each person’s personality and skills is an advantage when you incubate a start-up idea.   

  1. Through programs, events, competitions, clubs, start-up groups

Programs, events, competitions, clubs, start-up groups open a rather special environment to broaden networks towards entrepreneurs. It is the environment for individuals with the same  certain goals and passion which meets the first quality of an ideal Co-founder. There have been start-up Founders who find their partners through taking part in one hackathon competition while some others meet “soulmates” from Alumni clubs. Consequently, this is a method to more effectively look for partners and soulmates in the career.

  1. Through social media and information channels

Look for information pages connecting with Founder and Co-founder on Google or social media such as Linkedin and Facebook to find fitting and good partners.

  1. How to convince the Co-founder to accompany the project?

There are 3 things to take notice in the persuasion process:

  1. Founders have to be passionate and determined enough to the selected journey.  

  2. Need clear commitment from the beginning and preserve the spirit of win-win collaboration in all situations. 

  3. Founders must be committed, disciplined and exemplary with words promised, said, positioned. This is the motivation and attraction for the co-founder's resilience to stay and accompany.  

Here is a case study to find the Co-founder that CEO Van Dinh Hong Vu – Elsa Speak shared on social networks, you can refer.

Ms Vu shared about co-founder finding: Firstly, you need to know what you want from a co-founder, draw an audience portrait. For Vu, a Co-founder must be good but financially stable, get insurance and does not need money, wishes to innovate a useful product for the society.   

CEO Van Đinh Hong Vu had to set a goal of talking with 3-5 people a day. Living and working with co-founders within 3 months. When money runs out, use your own ideas to convince, show them the products’ strengths and your own aspiration for success. 

To better understand ways to find a suitable Co-founder for a start-up, watch the video below. 

Author: Ms. Nguyen Thi Phuong Nhi