Finding a co-founder (FI)

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This article provides answers to frequently asked questions about co-founders, including how to find a co-founder, how to divide equity, how to manage conflicts, and how to handle a co-founder leaving the company.

Published/Updated on Aug 18, 2022

How to find a co-founder

Last update: 20220823
Original article:

Find answers to your questions about finding a co-founder, and maintaining co-founder relationships.

Getting Started

  • Why do I need a co-founder?
    For founders, the idea of relinquishing control and ownership can be scary, but a complementary pairing can improve your companyโ€™s chance of success.

  • Useful Resources
    Common Startup Co-Founder Mistakes & How to Avoid Them
    Startup Misconceptions: Entrepreneurship Has to Be Done Alone

    • How do I test a co-founder relationship?
      Youโ€™ve spent time networking and vetting candidates, and now it is time to test your co-founder working relationship, before making it official.

    • Useful Resources
      Co-Founder Networking Worksheet
      How to Test Your Partnership with Potential Co-Founders
      34 Questions to Ask a Potential Co-Founder
      Awkward Co-Founder Discussions That You Need to Have

    • How do I split equity with co-founders?
      The equity split conversation is one of the first (of many) uncomfortable conversations that youโ€™ll have with your co-founder, and itโ€™s a strong signal for how well youโ€™ll work together through future situations.

      Useful Resources
      Co-Founder Equity Split Worksheet
      Startup Equity Demystified
      How to Manage Startup Equity (Video)
      Why a 50/50 Split is Almost Never Right for Co-Founders

    • Are co-founders also on the Board of Directors?
      Sometimes - it depends on the agreement made between the founding team members, and needs to be carefully considered around different variables. Will your co-founder invest money, or are they just investing their time? Does the individual understand the responsibilities that come with being a board member?

    • Should I pay my co-founder a salary?
      Paying yourself or your co-founder a salary is a topic many debate over. What needs to be considered is the overall compensation package of your co-founder. Will they receive equity only, or a mixture of equity and cash? Is there equity on a vesting schedule? The other component to consider is whether they are coming on Full Time or only Part Time. The final key question is: what do they (or you) require on a monthly basis, in order to live and/or support your family? All these components together help you determine what total co-founder compensation is appropriate.

    • Can I fire my co-founder?
      This depends on the agreement originally signed by the founding team members. In many cases, a co-founderโ€™s overall role can be reduced or removed. Any co-founder equity or options held in the business should be reviewed by your lawyer and advised accordingly.

  • Enrolling in the Founder Institute Program

    • Should I find a co-founder before joining the program?
      No, it is not necessary to have a co-founder in order to join Founder Institute - most start their journey as a solo founder. A typical cohort contains roughly 40% teams, and 60% solo founders.

      Visit the program FAQย 

    • Should my co-founder and I join the program together?
      This depends, case by case - it is not required. If both members of the co-founding team need to understand what it takes to go from idea to execution, it is a good idea. In the case you have a technical co-founder that is only interested (for example) in product development, then it is not necessary.

    • Will Founder Institute help me find a co-founder?
      Founder Institute does not make guarantees related to finding a co-founder, and does not explicitly push co-founder matchmaking - but it does happen frequently. You will have the opportunity to work closely with the other founders in your own cohort, and to meet many more founders from across the FI network. If you connect with another founder at the appropriate time (during the program), and find an idea compelling enough, then the two of you can choose to complete the program working together.