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Finding a co-founder can be as daunting as dating: Three tips to help

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

The search for a co-founder can be as daunting as dating and is just as critical as finding a life partner. Because at the crux of any startup is not just a beautiful product or service, but the people who have brought it to life and continue to nurture and grow it.

As Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes puts it, regardless of how talented teams are, if they have opposing values and cultures there will be “big clashes”.

“All technology is made by people,” he recently told StartupSmart.

To help with this “difficult and daunting” task, Nestio co-founder and chief executive Caren Maio has outlined three steps on Medium to get you closer to finding that special someone.


Maio encourages new founders to start with their immediate circle and search for people you get along with, who complement your personality and skills, who you would love working with, and will move in the same direction as you.

“Start exchanging ideas and sharing your vision for a potential business, and see if anyone in that group shares the same passion for it as you,” she says.

“If you’re already close with someone, it’s much easier to carve out roles and responsibilities, communicate in a candid and meaningful way, and ultimately understand what makes each other tick.”


If no one in your immediate circle quite makes the cut, ask your family, friends and colleagues if they can refer anyone from their networks to join you.

“I sent out an email to my network of friends asking if they knew of anyone with deep technical or product experience to discuss an idea I had for a real estate startup,” says Maio.

“I tried to describe what I was looking for in as much detail I could—it almost felt like I was writing up a personal ad.”

As referrals come in, make it a point to meet and really get to know promising candidates so you can choose wisely.


If the above two tasks are taking longer than hoped, be patient, and keep building the venture on your own, says Maio.

“Don’t be tempted to choose someone who’s not the right fit just to get a body on board,” says Maio.

“And when you actually commit to starting a business together, it’s really more analogous to a marriage. Your co-founder is the person with whom you’ll be spending most of your time, and you should trust them implicitly.”

Dinushi Dias is a journalist at StartupSmart and multimedia content producer. When she’s out of the office, she works on social projects with her We Love It Productions family and buddying filmmakers.

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