Stop looking for a co-founder

A question I am frequently asked by almost every new or aspiring entrepreneur is “How can I find a (technical) co-founder”. It’s frequently, though not always, asked by somebody who is non technical who has an idea for some kind of web startup, but doesn’t know how to build it.

My thoughts on this all have a very similar theme, which is “stop looking”, but the exact response seems to vary depending on who I am talking to. Here’s one:

## Date first, worry about marriage later

Sound familiar:

  • An awkward, difficult search for the right person
  • Spending time with somebody to figure out if your interests align, and you get on with each other
  • An increase in commitment over time
  • The need to have complete trust and honesty with each other
  • Having to battle through each other’s worst sides
  • The signing of a legal contract to cement your commitment to each other
  • Your little coupling growing with the addition of extra people who come to rely on you staying together
  • An unholy mess if the relationship breaks down.

If you’ve ever heard somebody say “co-founding a company is like getting married” don’t laugh it off thinking they mean “it’s hard to co-found a company, and there’s someone else involved, so ho-ho yeah I guess it’s like marriage”. They really mean “it’s like getting married”. You should treat it like such, especially the “dating process”.

Many of us humans are, or have in the past, been in the search for love. Perhaps with an eye to one day getting married and settling down. As far as I know this dating process rarely includes phrases like:

  • “Hey, I am looking for a husband, do you know where can I find one?”
  • “I have this crazy idea, and someone said you’re smart, so… want to marry me?”
  • “I’ve asked everyone I know, and nobody wants to marry me, so I guess nobody in this town is looking for love.”

So stop looking for a co-founder. Look for smart friends. Look for people who you can think with, and experiment with, and build stuff with. Don’t just dash down the aisle ASAP with the first guy or gal you find who can write a few lines of code.