# Early on
1. Spend at least half a day on the co-founders list
Yes, if you are seriously looking out for co-founder then you would have prepared you mind to spare time required to call them and meet them. Go through the co-founder list [Fill this form from headstart to get access to the common list, alternately you can make one of your own] very slowly, since it has potential to change your future. This sheet is a concentrated effort and an opportunity list just a quick glance on it will be of no use.
Also note this is not the only source for seeking co-founders or entrepreneurs, There are few of the places where you could search for co-founder. (Wait to see them in my future blogs)
2. Don’t choose the best fit, or top 5 etc.
There are many entrepreneurs who work on stealth mode and keep secrecy. There are many who don’t like to share their profile instead they like to meet and share it in-person. There are many talented people who just leave hints or anchor on their description and when you meet them you would be amazed to find how versatile, passionate and talented they are.
Check the profiles of the co-founders on their LinkedIn, Facebook and twitter. (Rapportive can help you to get the profiles if you have the co-founders email id) The other possibly places where you can get info on entrepreneur or his/her startups is Angel list, Tech crunch, power of Ideas, Enterprising India of TIE, Tata Hottest startups and NEN.
3. Seek partner from same city
Only in case if the business needs to expand in different cities then having a co-founder from other city helps, else for all possible and practical reasons having co-founder from other city doesn’t work.
Many times in a week you would need to get co-founders sit across the table be brutally honest and bring out the issues of business and enterprise (e.g. people issues). They need to hack solutions for the problems they face, It can be possible that best of the solutions can come while driving or even while sipping a chai together at a chai tapri (hut). Bottom line is that co-founders needs to be hand in glove.
4. Don’t judge on profile
Since many of the entrepreneurs might be or might have been working earlier as an employee in some organization their profile would be such that it reflects that he/she is a perfect job goer and that his/her profile only attract recruiters.
You should understand that being an entrepreneur in the job seeking world and in the current makeup of society is tough and not everyone supports and understand it.
5. Entrepreneurs are jugaadu so – don’t be blinded for tech guy.
There are many entrepreneurs who seek tech co-founder and but since their is scarcity of tech talent in co-founding pool they keep waiting for the right guy.
# During the co-founder meeting
1. Meet at CCD
Cafe coffee day are the best joint where you can sip coffee and have discussion at length. It’s economical, service is slow on purpose and waiter won’t disturb you anytime.
2. Pour your heart out
Don’t go with any agenda in mind, and don’t be stingy thinking that I will only share ‘this’ and not ‘that’, Instead speak your heart out, you will find that as soon as you open up there is a high-octane of energy in the conversation. Entrepreneurs are rare breed; unlike your regular friends they are the one who understand your passion.
3. Carry charts, slides, mock-up
In case if you need tools to explain your work, idea or concept carry those tools it can be as simple as a pen or a chart on paper or even laptop don’t assume that you can explain other person better without tools.
Come prepared, the potential co-founder is also your first internal customer you need to sell him your idea/concept, if he is not enrolled and excited into buying your idea/concept then in most probability even your customers won’t buy.
Discuss market and financial projections this will help you to grasp how much market and industry knowledge co-founder has and what his/her financial acumen is, Marketing white book is a good start for reference.
4. Don’t hesitate to share ideas
Many entrepreneurs hesitate to share ideas, thinking that the other person will copy it. This is a phantom fear most of the aspiring entrepreneurs have because of which they tend to stay in isolation and away from collaboration.
Entrepreneurs should understand that Ideas on its own don’t have any life; even if it is shared across, it is only the conceiver who has passion and commitment enough to bet on his idea (to take risk and bring it into reality) can convert them into gold.
5. Give and take homework
Conclude the meeting with what are the things each of you are expecting from the other, it could be login details for demo, personal profile, financial forecast, B-plan, survey feedback, market analysis, lean analysis etc. Once you receive the required details, by considering them as deliverables you can then determine, quality and expertise of work, professionalism and integrity on making the delivery and providing support.
# After you meet entrepreneur
1. Mind-map or jot down all conversations
Immediately after the conversation, write down things; as you would tend to forget once the day is gone. You will find that whatever you have written is a good fodder for further ideation and new thinking.
Drop a warm and personal email; open the channel of communication.
2. Ask for the lean analysis
Lean analysis by Eric ries is the best advance method to figure out the potential and health of business.
3. Seek adopted brother not the arranged marriage bride
If one searches for the matrimonial girl, he goes through tough time finding the right soul match.
But If say we are asked to make a selection for an adoption of a brother at this age (20-30) it becomes very easy for us as there are plenty of friends who would fits the bill.
Co-founder search should be like adopting a brother, where you have freedom, openness and also enjoy the company of a friend.
4. Keep in touch through the week
Seek questions and answers, if needed meet to clarify and understand better.
5. Feel the vibes
Tap into your gut to come out with the answer if you should join the co-founder, just using logical mind (i.e. conscious mind) is not enough. Does your subconscious mind feel safe and secure?, Is there a vibrant energy around?
You need figure out attitude, integrity, emotions and feelings of the co-founder as well.
# While making final decision
1. Clarify, speak out your mind
Clarify what is in your mind, in case if there is any doubt ask, explain your partner what are the things you visualize, discuss what are the boundaries, limits and areas or responsibilities which you are going to handle.
2. Get inputs on your co-founder from common reference
Find out common friends or references that can provide you accurate feedback on personality traits of co-founder, his/her ability and repute.
2. Be jazzed up
Once everything is in place, engage you mind to absorb bliss, get little jiggy. Soon you will find tackling problems together is lot more fun and exciting then doing it alone.
3. Be open for more partners too.
It takes a village to grow one startup, be open and listen to what business wants, not what is your ‘personal want’.
5. Narrow down on one thing
There would be hundreds of million dollar ideas, but start with one idea at a time. Determine and specify what one SMART goal you want to achieve.
# While declining
Communicate clearly that you won’t be able to join, don’t keep the other person hanging, reply in 15 days prefer using email as a channel of communication.
2. Have clear reason for INABILITY
Mention clear reason of YOUR inability to join at this time, mention why YOU won’t be able to give justice to the startup and how YOU are not the right fit, be polite and courteous. The other person would understand it because even your subconscious mind and feeling of doing right thing should come from within.
BIG RED WARNING: Never advice or say to the entrepreneur that your idea or startup is kaput, at first the other person will go shell shock and stonewalled to such an extent that he becomes blind to whatever you speak or write further, with this you also lose a good friend and there is an unnecessary scar in relationship.
3. Keep a friend
Develop and keep channels of communication open for sharing business activities and other interests. If needed you can keep seeking suggestions and advice on business in future.
4. Genuienly track progress
Keep genuine track of the co-founder how he/she is progressing in life from time to time. Speak high of him/her, appreciate and recommend your friends for product or service he/she is offering.