- Compatibility - Know what you are looking for in a co-founder. Ensure they complement your skills rather than duplicate them.
- Network - Utilising your existing network, and expanding it, is a great place to start when trying to find a co-founder or aiming to get recommendations and introductions.
- Accelerators/Incubators - Some accelerators/incubators help individuals in their cohorts find a co-founder.
- Hackathons - Hackathons are a great breeding ground for meeting new people and learning about others’ skills and interests.
- Relocate - Sometimes the local ecosystem is just not substantial enough to keep, or attract, the right sort of people who could be your co-founder. Moving to a hub for entrepreneurship can address this.
- Coworking spaces - One of the main selling points of co-working spaces is that they help members meet new people who have similar interests and goals.
- Online matchmaking - Many online platforms exist to connect entrepreneurs.
Before exploring the various ways you can find a co-founder, you might be interested in why you should have a co-founder at all. We happened to write an article on that too.
When it comes to finding a co-founder, there are many different ways you can begin your search. Some of them you can start immediately and some require a bit of planning and legwork.
Decide on what you need
Before you begin looking for a co-founder, you need to have a very good idea of what you are looking for. Examine your ideas, consider your strengths and look at your weaknesses. Ask why you are looking for a co-founder. Determine which skills and experience you are missing and what a co-founder would need in order to fill them. Seek advice and input from advisors, mentors and peers if needed.
Utilise your network
Utilising your existing network, is a great place to start when searching for a co-founder. As your co-founder should be someone you know well and trust, teaming up with someone you already know can be an easy way to tick this box. This is not to say you shouldn’t team up with a stranger, but rather finding someone (who is suitable) in your network can save you time and energy trying to establish that trust and familiarity with a stranger. Ask for recommendations and introductions through your existing network. Whilst you might be meeting ‘strangers’ this way, at least they are still connected to people you already know and trust.
Expand your network (Networking)
If your existing network proves limited and you cannot find someone suitable, expanding your network is another option for finding a co-founder. Joining entrepreneur groups and other online communities and interacting with people who have similar interests to you is a great way of growing your network and meeting a potential co-founder. There might also be dedicated co-founder meet-ups in your area that you can find through sites such as Meetup. Whilst you may not find a co-founder immediately, it can become a productive way of putting word out that you are looking to partner up with someone. Starting discussions on popular platforms such as LinkedIn and Medium or interacting with well frequented business blogs can also be a way to make your interests known.
Join an accelerator or incubator
Whilst many accelerators and incubators are looking for existing companies and teams, some of the main focuses of other programs is to precisely help entrepreneurs find a Co-Founder. Entrepreneur First, for example, spends the first part of their programme doing precisely this. Such programs offer a unique setting in which to bring together skilled, intelligent, ambitious and high-potential people. Even if you join an accelerator/incubator and leave without a co-founder, the skills and insights you gain will be very useful in your continued search for someone to start a company with.
The environment in which hackathon competitions take place is a great breeding ground for meeting new people and learning about others’ skills and interests. Though Hackathons are in and of themselves meant to be fun ways of building a company and solving a particular use case, some of the teams that form during hackathons go on to continue as a company in real life.
It may just be that the startup ecosystem where you are is weak to non-existent. If you are looking for a o-founder in, for example, Burnley, UK or Arkansas, USA you may be looking in the wrong place and your search will be a long and tedious one. There is a reason why cities such as London, Berlin, San Francisco and Bangalore are hubs for startups and aspiring entrepreneurs flock to their streets.
Join a co-working space
Surround yourself with people with similar goals and interests and spend time around them. An easy way to do this is by joining a co-working space. Many spaces cater to a certain clientele, so it is worth doing your research and finding ones whose membership base reflects the sort of person you are looking for as a co-founder.
There are many online platforms that exist to connect entrepreneurs. Sites such as FounderDating/CoFoundersLab, StartupWeekend, Younoodle and Stealth can prove useful in finding a co-founder and expanding your network (see point 2 above).
If you’ve spotted any inaccuracies in this post, please let us know. We want to make sure we are offering the most update to date and accurate information. Feedback is always welcome.