5 Best Tips to Find a Co-Founder
Back in 2013, Nick Martin wanted to take his WordPress website to the next level – becoming a native app – he discovered the process was expensive and technically difficult. However, in his problem, Nick saw a business opportunity, which quickly became a fruitful business called MagLoft. In order to code effectively, he needed to master the Ruby on Rails programming language. With a background in Computer Science and Game Design, he was hoping he could quickly tackle the new language, but then realized it was too much for him to even comprehend in the amount of time he had. He needed a better coder than himself, someone with five or ten years of experience. If he decided to continue on learning how to master Ruby on Rails himself, it could take years to accomplish. So he needed a co-founder to move forward.
At the time, Nick was working as the Community Manager for a coworking and coliving space in Bali called Livit. His tasks involved managing their Guest Entrepreneur Program and ensuring that entrepreneurs had an enjoyable and productive experience at Livit. He had no idea at the time, but this was the place where he would meet his co-founder and CTO, Tobias Strebitzer.
Toby was a talented and passionate entrepreneur and, luckily for Nick, Toby was a true master of Ruby on Rails. “I wasn’t shy in picking apart his brain, you could say I took total advantage of his skills!” said Nick. Though Toby was only in Bali for a few weeks, they bonded and worked really well together. After they separated, Nick knew that what would later become MagLoft couldn’t be another one of his one-man-band projects – he needed a team.
It wasn’t long before Nick contacted Toby and offered him a 50:50 partnership along with the positions of Co-founder and CTO at MagLoft. There were no formal agreements and nor lengthy discussions. Toby was excited about the project and happily accepted. Nick originally thought finding a co-founder would be an arduous and lengthy process. Thankfully, the coworking space in Bali brought them together through a quick intervention by fate. After many months of collaboration, MagLoft was officially in the app store in January 2014.
MagLoft is one of many co-founder partnerships that were birthed in a coworking space. If you are on the hunt for a new co-founder, here are 5 things these co-founders think you should consider as you begin your pursuit:
1. Get your ideas out in the open
Nick tells us, “Don’t be afraid to share whatever you are working on or whatever brilliant idea you come across even if no one has ever done it before or if it doesn’t exist.” Don’t assume someone is going to steal your idea, because entrepreneurs are generating new ideas every day. Don’t be shy about sharing your ideas, and invite others to share their ideas with you! You will find people who have a similar or complementary passion to yours and the collaboration will only make them stronger. If you don’t talk to your dream girl, she will always be a dream, if you don’t talk to your peers, then your Toby will never show up.
2. Own your weaknesses
Nick knew that he needed an expert on Ruby on Rails, so when he met Toby he took advantage of the situation and learned as much as he could – he acknowledged his limits and saw the possibilities. Should you hire someone to help out temporarily or do you require more heavy lifting and balance, that requires the support of a co-founder? Will supplementing your personal limits with the talents of another benefit your project temporarily or permanently? You won’t know until you find your own limits and look at another’s potential.
3. Base it on trust
Nick and Toby connected on a personal level before they dove into life as business partners.
For a time, the duo hadn’t even bothered drafting a founders agreement or a shareholders agreement. This was not because they didn’t feel these agreements were important, but they both felt that being unable to trust someone outside of written contracts and agreements was a red flag too large to ignore. As soon as an – once an advisor was drafted up the formal agreements were drafted and signed. Coworking spaces can help you meet and connect with people on a personal level – getting to know people, hanging out with people, and figuring out if you would be comfortable working.
4. Be ready to commit to your co-founder
There were challenges of course; after Toby and Nick decided to become partners, Toby was still working with another startup and Nick was still working for Livit. Time was difficult to manage – during the first six months the business moved slowly, but both of them were ready to commit: They made an arrangement where Toby, still in Silicon Valley, could spend less time on MagLoft but would add extra investment to outsource his tasks. It was challenging of course, but it was the necessary commitment. Soon Toby was finished with his other obligations and moved to Bali – MagLoft really took off at that point.
5. Choose the right coworking space
For Nick and Toby, choosing the right coworking space was essential to helping them forge their partnership. They chose Livit because the coworking space helped them free up time for their endeavors. Livit took care of the mundane tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry that would normally absorb their valuable time for an early stage startup. MagLoft got things done much faster because of this benefit. Livit was also filled with a bustling community of entrepreneurs, resulting in an environment that supercharged their progress. You may read some more here as to how to get the best out of a coworking space.
Today, MagLoft has grown from a two person to a six people team, working both from Bali as well as remotely around the world. MagLoft represents a new trend in the world – people can come together and create value much more easily than ever before. The old way of doing things has either been abandoned or refined and the coworking space is the front lines of progress in the blossoming startup world. If you haven’t already, visit a coworking space near you and experience the electricity of a brave new world. Who knows, if you’re lucky enough, you might even find your next co-founder?
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