How Co-Founders Meet: a look at the where and how foodtech founders met their match

How Co-Founders Meet: a look at the where and how foodtech founders met their match

By
Sam Panzer
August 9, 2021

Meeting your match.

It’s time: you’ve got your gazillion-dollar idea on the back of a napkin (or more likely on a Google doc) and you're now ready to go all-in on the startup life. But are you sure you can do it alone?

Enter the cofounder: something between a business partner and a spouse, here to round out the leadership team, support with critical skills that you're missing, and set your startup on the path to success.

True, cofounders aren’t required. In fact, over half of startups exit with just one founder. And some of foodtech’s biggest names are solo-founded, including both Beyond Meat (Ethan Brown) and Impossible Foods (Patrick Brown).

But most foodtech startups require a magic mix of expertise behind the wheel: test tubes and spreadsheets, sales plans and flavor wheels, websites and pitch decks. It’s very rare for one person to have everything it takes to take an idea into a successful business, and early-stage investors know this, typically choosing to back teams rather then solo founders.

But choosing the right cofounder is tricky, and it’s damn important. According to Harvard prof. Noam Wasserman, a whopping 65% of startups fail due to conflict among cofounders. Ouch. So this week, we’re looking at how to find your ideal cofounder match along with some real, weird and wonderful examples from the community.

👀 What to look for in a cofounder?

Finding a cofounder can feel like choosing the other half of your brain. Boostbar CEO Pascal Uffer recommends asking, “are you both blind in the same eye, or truly complementary?” and "what happens when 💩hit's the fan".

That’s what a good working relationship is all about: rounding out the founding team’s profile so that you’re able to handle the (many) challenges your startup will face along the way and being able to stick together when things (inevitably) get tough.

In foodtech, a well-rounded startup will look very different based on what you're building. A new eGrocery platform might mean pairing a growth marketer who can mock up a quick landing page, with a retail supply chain expert who understand the market needs and white spaces. For an alt-protein startup, it could be a fermentation specialist who will make the first prototypes a reality, with a sales wiz who knows how to best position the company to potential investors.

Typically, winning foodtech founding teams include a mix of 1) technical and scientific expertise 2) business development, marketing, branding and sales abilities 3) logistics, processes, admin, regulatory and legal know-how.

If you're dealing with cutting-edge science or new technologies, technical know-how in the early days is highly recommended. Otherwise, the pressures to exaggerate the science or scalability of the business can tank the whole mission - a common problem for biotech startups, and also the case for many of the more scientific segments of foodtech.

And finally, as important as complementary differences are, it’s also vital that the founding team is 100% aligned on your core mission as misalignment slows your go-to-market, reduces team buy-in, and overall, slows innovation.

🔎 Where to find a cofounder

We asked founders where they met their cofounder match, some of the interesting responses included dating apps, former clients and customers turned cofounders, father and son teams or spouses turned business partners. Here's a closer look at a few:

🏫 Universities. Universities provide an ideal setting for founding teams to meet, connect over like-minded interests and start working in a low-risk environment. The idea and team for Swiss plant-based startup, Planted first began at the ETH university in Zurich, and universities like Harvard and Stanford have been the meeting point for founders at Facebook, Google & Microsoft.

👪 Personal Network. Friends from high school, siblings, parents, friends of friends, spouses. We’ve heard it all. With the long hours and ample stress that comes with founding a company, ensuring you actually get along with your cofounder is an absolute must. Looking at the people who you already spend the most time with can be a good place to start. One Planet Pizza was founded by father and son team Joe and Mike Hill, and the Wonderlab Doozy founders are actually husband and wife team, Kristen and Karl Sutaria (talk about commitment).

💡Startup and pitch events. Getting yourself and your idea out there early on through startup and pitch events is another great way to meet with potential cofounders. Search for ‘pitch events near me’ on Google, attend relevant meetups in your industry, join Clubhouse pitch events or look for networking and mixer sessions by accelerators and funds in your domain.

🤝 Professional Network. Whether it’s a connection on Linkedin, a former client turned cofounder, a colleague at your job who's looking for a change of pace, or a fellow coworker at a desk near you - take a look into your rolodex or immediate work surrounding to meet with other, likely skilled professionals, who share a passion to build. Andreas Duss of Boreal Botanical highlights that his now co-founder, Mike McKenzie was a former client of his, and the founding team at Zurich based Wood & Field met through their former workplace.

💻 Platforms. There's a rising number of startup matchmaking platforms looking to solve this problem and spur innovation. The founders of plant-based pet food startup, Omni, met through a website called Work in Startups after co-founder Shiv Sivakumar put out a call for applications via the platform. YCombinator’s Startup School, cofoundme, CoFoundersLab, and StartHawk also all boast solid success stories of winning teams meeting their match.

🙏 Divine Intervention. Sometimes, life just brings you together. The idea for UK-based VFC came when Matthew Glover, the co-founder of Veganuary, tried Adam Lyon’s vegan chicken dish at his omnivore restaurant. And the founding team at Dubai-based, Sprout was cooked up when co-founders Oz Erbas Soydaner and Katerina Papatryfon, meet whilst walking their dogs. So keep an open mind, maybe that jerk who just cut you in line could one day be your future sparring partner 🤷

💡 Structuring Co-Founder Relationships

Great, you’ve now found your dream cofounder and are ready to get to work. But first, let’s put that relationship on paper and formalize the equity setup. Usually, this step happens right after incorporating –– as founders typically have endless to-do lists, this tends to get left to the last minute, but should really be a top priority.

Every startup’s structure is unique, but there are a few best practices to keep in mind: 

🥧 Avoid 50/50 splits. They sound fair, yes, but can create corporate deadlock in decision making later on. Of course, the minority cofounder faces greater uncertainty and can be forced out by the majority party –– but the initial responsibilities and risk often point to one cofounder taking a larger share. Some disagree with this tip (including YCombinator’s managing director), and European startups do skew more evenly. But we still think it’s best to avoid the risk of deadlock down the road. Here's a helpful guide that might help figure out the best split.

🕒 Vest founder shares. Which simply means setting a specified time period or event where founders can keep all or a certain percentage of their stock shares. A four year vest is the norm and it helps to ensure somebody doesn’t take a big piece or end the business if they leave early on - leaving the other founders in an awkward situation.

💰Build a buyout plan in case a cofounder ends up leaving the company. That includes pre-setting expectations that if a founder leaves during their vesting period, the company can buy back the shares. The share price of the buyback is sometimes pre-set to a nominal fee (i.e. $0.0001 per share), or it can be calculated based on a fair market rate.

True Love Takes Time

Finding a cofounder is a critical and challenging step in your startup story. But as is true with much of the hustle, it’s actually ok to take your time. A few months without a cofounder with you at the wheel is way better than shacking up with the wrong person.

As you start your search, get the word out. Post your story on LinkedIn, attend events, put yourself out there, grab coffee with people who have what you’re missing. Founders often have the impulse to go fast, go alone, and go in secret. But if your idea is solid, then nothing is more important than executing it with the right people.

And if all else fails, drop us a line with what you're building and who you're looking to connect with and we'll see if we can help. No promises.

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Meeting your match.

It’s time: you’ve got your gazillion-dollar idea on the back of a napkin (or more likely on a Google doc) and you're now ready to go all-in on the startup life. But are you sure you can do it alone?

Enter the cofounder: something between a business partner and a spouse, here to round out the leadership team, support with critical skills that you're missing, and set your startup on the path to success.

True, cofounders aren’t required. In fact, over half of startups exit with just one founder. And some of foodtech’s biggest names are solo-founded, including both Beyond Meat (Ethan Brown) and Impossible Foods (Patrick Brown).

But most foodtech startups require a magic mix of expertise behind the wheel: test tubes and spreadsheets, sales plans and flavor wheels, websites and pitch decks. It’s very rare for one person to have everything it takes to take an idea into a successful business, and early-stage investors know this, typically choosing to back teams rather then solo founders.

But choosing the right cofounder is tricky, and it’s damn important. According to Harvard prof. Noam Wasserman, a whopping 65% of startups fail due to conflict among cofounders. Ouch. So this week, we’re looking at how to find your ideal cofounder match along with some real, weird and wonderful examples from the community.

👀 What to look for in a cofounder?

Finding a cofounder can feel like choosing the other half of your brain. Boostbar CEO Pascal Uffer recommends asking, “are you both blind in the same eye, or truly complementary?” and "what happens when 💩hit's the fan".

That’s what a good working relationship is all about: rounding out the founding team’s profile so that you’re able to handle the (many) challenges your startup will face along the way and being able to stick together when things (inevitably) get tough.

In foodtech, a well-rounded startup will look very different based on what you're building. A new eGrocery platform might mean pairing a growth marketer who can mock up a quick landing page, with a retail supply chain expert who understand the market needs and white spaces. For an alt-protein startup, it could be a fermentation specialist who will make the first prototypes a reality, with a sales wiz who knows how to best position the company to potential investors.

Typically, winning foodtech founding teams include a mix of 1) technical and scientific expertise 2) business development, marketing, branding and sales abilities 3) logistics, processes, admin, regulatory and legal know-how.

If you're dealing with cutting-edge science or new technologies, technical know-how in the early days is highly recommended. Otherwise, the pressures to exaggerate the science or scalability of the business can tank the whole mission - a common problem for biotech startups, and also the case for many of the more scientific segments of foodtech.

And finally, as important as complementary differences are, it’s also vital that the founding team is 100% aligned on your core mission as misalignment slows your go-to-market, reduces team buy-in, and overall, slows innovation.

🔎 Where to find a cofounder

We asked founders where they met their cofounder match, some of the interesting responses included dating apps, former clients and customers turned cofounders, father and son teams or spouses turned business partners. Here's a closer look at a few:

🏫 Universities. Universities provide an ideal setting for founding teams to meet, connect over like-minded interests and start working in a low-risk environment. The idea and team for Swiss plant-based startup, Planted first began at the ETH university in Zurich, and universities like Harvard and Stanford have been the meeting point for founders at Facebook, Google & Microsoft.

👪 Personal Network. Friends from high school, siblings, parents, friends of friends, spouses. We’ve heard it all. With the long hours and ample stress that comes with founding a company, ensuring you actually get along with your cofounder is an absolute must. Looking at the people who you already spend the most time with can be a good place to start. One Planet Pizza was founded by father and son team Joe and Mike Hill, and the Wonderlab Doozy founders are actually husband and wife team, Kristen and Karl Sutaria (talk about commitment).

💡Startup and pitch events. Getting yourself and your idea out there early on through startup and pitch events is another great way to meet with potential cofounders. Search for ‘pitch events near me’ on Google, attend relevant meetups in your industry, join Clubhouse pitch events or look for networking and mixer sessions by accelerators and funds in your domain.

🤝 Professional Network. Whether it’s a connection on Linkedin, a former client turned cofounder, a colleague at your job who's looking for a change of pace, or a fellow coworker at a desk near you - take a look into your rolodex or immediate work surrounding to meet with other, likely skilled professionals, who share a passion to build. Andreas Duss of Boreal Botanical highlights that his now co-founder, Mike McKenzie was a former client of his, and the founding team at Zurich based Wood & Field met through their former workplace.

💻 Platforms. There's a rising number of startup matchmaking platforms looking to solve this problem and spur innovation. The founders of plant-based pet food startup, Omni, met through a website called Work in Startups after co-founder Shiv Sivakumar put out a call for applications via the platform. YCombinator’s Startup School, cofoundme, CoFoundersLab, and StartHawk also all boast solid success stories of winning teams meeting their match.

🙏 Divine Intervention. Sometimes, life just brings you together. The idea for UK-based VFC came when Matthew Glover, the co-founder of Veganuary, tried Adam Lyon’s vegan chicken dish at his omnivore restaurant. And the founding team at Dubai-based, Sprout was cooked up when co-founders Oz Erbas Soydaner and Katerina Papatryfon, meet whilst walking their dogs. So keep an open mind, maybe that jerk who just cut you in line could one day be your future sparring partner 🤷

💡 Structuring Co-Founder Relationships

Great, you’ve now found your dream cofounder and are ready to get to work. But first, let’s put that relationship on paper and formalize the equity setup. Usually, this step happens right after incorporating –– as founders typically have endless to-do lists, this tends to get left to the last minute, but should really be a top priority.

Every startup’s structure is unique, but there are a few best practices to keep in mind: 

🥧 Avoid 50/50 splits. They sound fair, yes, but can create corporate deadlock in decision making later on. Of course, the minority cofounder faces greater uncertainty and can be forced out by the majority party –– but the initial responsibilities and risk often point to one cofounder taking a larger share. Some disagree with this tip (including YCombinator’s managing director), and European startups do skew more evenly. But we still think it’s best to avoid the risk of deadlock down the road. Here's a helpful guide that might help figure out the best split.

🕒 Vest founder shares. Which simply means setting a specified time period or event where founders can keep all or a certain percentage of their stock shares. A four year vest is the norm and it helps to ensure somebody doesn’t take a big piece or end the business if they leave early on - leaving the other founders in an awkward situation.

💰Build a buyout plan in case a cofounder ends up leaving the company. That includes pre-setting expectations that if a founder leaves during their vesting period, the company can buy back the shares. The share price of the buyback is sometimes pre-set to a nominal fee (i.e. $0.0001 per share), or it can be calculated based on a fair market rate.

True Love Takes Time

Finding a cofounder is a critical and challenging step in your startup story. But as is true with much of the hustle, it’s actually ok to take your time. A few months without a cofounder with you at the wheel is way better than shacking up with the wrong person.

As you start your search, get the word out. Post your story on LinkedIn, attend events, put yourself out there, grab coffee with people who have what you’re missing. Founders often have the impulse to go fast, go alone, and go in secret. But if your idea is solid, then nothing is more important than executing it with the right people.

And if all else fails, drop us a line with what you're building and who you're looking to connect with and we'll see if we can help. No promises.

Meeting your match.

It’s time: you’ve got your gazillion-dollar idea on the back of a napkin (or more likely on a Google doc) and you're now ready to go all-in on the startup life. But are you sure you can do it alone?

Enter the cofounder: something between a business partner and a spouse, here to round out the leadership team, support with critical skills that you're missing, and set your startup on the path to success.

True, cofounders aren’t required. In fact, over half of startups exit with just one founder. And some of foodtech’s biggest names are solo-founded, including both Beyond Meat (Ethan Brown) and Impossible Foods (Patrick Brown).

But most foodtech startups require a magic mix of expertise behind the wheel: test tubes and spreadsheets, sales plans and flavor wheels, websites and pitch decks. It’s very rare for one person to have everything it takes to take an idea into a successful business, and early-stage investors know this, typically choosing to back teams rather then solo founders.

But choosing the right cofounder is tricky, and it’s damn important. According to Harvard prof. Noam Wasserman, a whopping 65% of startups fail due to conflict among cofounders. Ouch. So this week, we’re looking at how to find your ideal cofounder match along with some real, weird and wonderful examples from the community.

👀 What to look for in a cofounder?

Finding a cofounder can feel like choosing the other half of your brain. Boostbar CEO Pascal Uffer recommends asking, “are you both blind in the same eye, or truly complementary?” and "what happens when 💩hit's the fan".

That’s what a good working relationship is all about: rounding out the founding team’s profile so that you’re able to handle the (many) challenges your startup will face along the way and being able to stick together when things (inevitably) get tough.

In foodtech, a well-rounded startup will look very different based on what you're building. A new eGrocery platform might mean pairing a growth marketer who can mock up a quick landing page, with a retail supply chain expert who understand the market needs and white spaces. For an alt-protein startup, it could be a fermentation specialist who will make the first prototypes a reality, with a sales wiz who knows how to best position the company to potential investors.

Typically, winning foodtech founding teams include a mix of 1) technical and scientific expertise 2) business development, marketing, branding and sales abilities 3) logistics, processes, admin, regulatory and legal know-how.

If you're dealing with cutting-edge science or new technologies, technical know-how in the early days is highly recommended. Otherwise, the pressures to exaggerate the science or scalability of the business can tank the whole mission - a common problem for biotech startups, and also the case for many of the more scientific segments of foodtech.

And finally, as important as complementary differences are, it’s also vital that the founding team is 100% aligned on your core mission as misalignment slows your go-to-market, reduces team buy-in, and overall, slows innovation.

🔎 Where to find a cofounder

We asked founders where they met their cofounder match, some of the interesting responses included dating apps, former clients and customers turned cofounders, father and son teams or spouses turned business partners. Here's a closer look at a few:

🏫 Universities. Universities provide an ideal setting for founding teams to meet, connect over like-minded interests and start working in a low-risk environment. The idea and team for Swiss plant-based startup, Planted first began at the ETH university in Zurich, and universities like Harvard and Stanford have been the meeting point for founders at Facebook, Google & Microsoft.

👪 Personal Network. Friends from high school, siblings, parents, friends of friends, spouses. We’ve heard it all. With the long hours and ample stress that comes with founding a company, ensuring you actually get along with your cofounder is an absolute must. Looking at the people who you already spend the most time with can be a good place to start. One Planet Pizza was founded by father and son team Joe and Mike Hill, and the Wonderlab Doozy founders are actually husband and wife team, Kristen and Karl Sutaria (talk about commitment).

💡Startup and pitch events. Getting yourself and your idea out there early on through startup and pitch events is another great way to meet with potential cofounders. Search for ‘pitch events near me’ on Google, attend relevant meetups in your industry, join Clubhouse pitch events or look for networking and mixer sessions by accelerators and funds in your domain.

🤝 Professional Network. Whether it’s a connection on Linkedin, a former client turned cofounder, a colleague at your job who's looking for a change of pace, or a fellow coworker at a desk near you - take a look into your rolodex or immediate work surrounding to meet with other, likely skilled professionals, who share a passion to build. Andreas Duss of Boreal Botanical highlights that his now co-founder, Mike McKenzie was a former client of his, and the founding team at Zurich based Wood & Field met through their former workplace.

💻 Platforms. There's a rising number of startup matchmaking platforms looking to solve this problem and spur innovation. The founders of plant-based pet food startup, Omni, met through a website called Work in Startups after co-founder Shiv Sivakumar put out a call for applications via the platform. YCombinator’s Startup School, cofoundme, CoFoundersLab, and StartHawk also all boast solid success stories of winning teams meeting their match.

🙏 Divine Intervention. Sometimes, life just brings you together. The idea for UK-based VFC came when Matthew Glover, the co-founder of Veganuary, tried Adam Lyon’s vegan chicken dish at his omnivore restaurant. And the founding team at Dubai-based, Sprout was cooked up when co-founders Oz Erbas Soydaner and Katerina Papatryfon, meet whilst walking their dogs. So keep an open mind, maybe that jerk who just cut you in line could one day be your future sparring partner 🤷

💡 Structuring Co-Founder Relationships

Great, you’ve now found your dream cofounder and are ready to get to work. But first, let’s put that relationship on paper and formalize the equity setup. Usually, this step happens right after incorporating –– as founders typically have endless to-do lists, this tends to get left to the last minute, but should really be a top priority.

Every startup’s structure is unique, but there are a few best practices to keep in mind: 

🥧 Avoid 50/50 splits. They sound fair, yes, but can create corporate deadlock in decision making later on. Of course, the minority cofounder faces greater uncertainty and can be forced out by the majority party –– but the initial responsibilities and risk often point to one cofounder taking a larger share. Some disagree with this tip (including YCombinator’s managing director), and European startups do skew more evenly. But we still think it’s best to avoid the risk of deadlock down the road. Here's a helpful guide that might help figure out the best split.

🕒 Vest founder shares. Which simply means setting a specified time period or event where founders can keep all or a certain percentage of their stock shares. A four year vest is the norm and it helps to ensure somebody doesn’t take a big piece or end the business if they leave early on - leaving the other founders in an awkward situation.

💰Build a buyout plan in case a cofounder ends up leaving the company. That includes pre-setting expectations that if a founder leaves during their vesting period, the company can buy back the shares. The share price of the buyback is sometimes pre-set to a nominal fee (i.e. $0.0001 per share), or it can be calculated based on a fair market rate.

True Love Takes Time

Finding a cofounder is a critical and challenging step in your startup story. But as is true with much of the hustle, it’s actually ok to take your time. A few months without a cofounder with you at the wheel is way better than shacking up with the wrong person.

As you start your search, get the word out. Post your story on LinkedIn, attend events, put yourself out there, grab coffee with people who have what you’re missing. Founders often have the impulse to go fast, go alone, and go in secret. But if your idea is solid, then nothing is more important than executing it with the right people.

And if all else fails, drop us a line with what you're building and who you're looking to connect with and we'll see if we can help. No promises.

Meeting your match.

It’s time: you’ve got your gazillion-dollar idea on the back of a napkin (or more likely on a Google doc) and you're now ready to go all-in on the startup life. But are you sure you can do it alone?

Enter the cofounder: something between a business partner and a spouse, here to round out the leadership team, support with critical skills that you're missing, and set your startup on the path to success.

True, cofounders aren’t required. In fact, over half of startups exit with just one founder. And some of foodtech’s biggest names are solo-founded, including both Beyond Meat (Ethan Brown) and Impossible Foods (Patrick Brown).

But most foodtech startups require a magic mix of expertise behind the wheel: test tubes and spreadsheets, sales plans and flavor wheels, websites and pitch decks. It’s very rare for one person to have everything it takes to take an idea into a successful business, and early-stage investors know this, typically choosing to back teams rather then solo founders.

But choosing the right cofounder is tricky, and it’s damn important. According to Harvard prof. Noam Wasserman, a whopping 65% of startups fail due to conflict among cofounders. Ouch. So this week, we’re looking at how to find your ideal cofounder match along with some real, weird and wonderful examples from the community.

👀 What to look for in a cofounder?

Finding a cofounder can feel like choosing the other half of your brain. Boostbar CEO Pascal Uffer recommends asking, “are you both blind in the same eye, or truly complementary?” and "what happens when 💩hit's the fan".

That’s what a good working relationship is all about: rounding out the founding team’s profile so that you’re able to handle the (many) challenges your startup will face along the way and being able to stick together when things (inevitably) get tough.

In foodtech, a well-rounded startup will look very different based on what you're building. A new eGrocery platform might mean pairing a growth marketer who can mock up a quick landing page, with a retail supply chain expert who understand the market needs and white spaces. For an alt-protein startup, it could be a fermentation specialist who will make the first prototypes a reality, with a sales wiz who knows how to best position the company to potential investors.

Typically, winning foodtech founding teams include a mix of 1) technical and scientific expertise 2) business development, marketing, branding and sales abilities 3) logistics, processes, admin, regulatory and legal know-how.

If you're dealing with cutting-edge science or new technologies, technical know-how in the early days is highly recommended. Otherwise, the pressures to exaggerate the science or scalability of the business can tank the whole mission - a common problem for biotech startups, and also the case for many of the more scientific segments of foodtech.

And finally, as important as complementary differences are, it’s also vital that the founding team is 100% aligned on your core mission as misalignment slows your go-to-market, reduces team buy-in, and overall, slows innovation.

🔎 Where to find a cofounder

We asked founders where they met their cofounder match, some of the interesting responses included dating apps, former clients and customers turned cofounders, father and son teams or spouses turned business partners. Here's a closer look at a few:

🏫 Universities. Universities provide an ideal setting for founding teams to meet, connect over like-minded interests and start working in a low-risk environment. The idea and team for Swiss plant-based startup, Planted first began at the ETH university in Zurich, and universities like Harvard and Stanford have been the meeting point for founders at Facebook, Google & Microsoft.

👪 Personal Network. Friends from high school, siblings, parents, friends of friends, spouses. We’ve heard it all. With the long hours and ample stress that comes with founding a company, ensuring you actually get along with your cofounder is an absolute must. Looking at the people who you already spend the most time with can be a good place to start. One Planet Pizza was founded by father and son team Joe and Mike Hill, and the Wonderlab Doozy founders are actually husband and wife team, Kristen and Karl Sutaria (talk about commitment).

💡Startup and pitch events. Getting yourself and your idea out there early on through startup and pitch events is another great way to meet with potential cofounders. Search for ‘pitch events near me’ on Google, attend relevant meetups in your industry, join Clubhouse pitch events or look for networking and mixer sessions by accelerators and funds in your domain.

🤝 Professional Network. Whether it’s a connection on Linkedin, a former client turned cofounder, a colleague at your job who's looking for a change of pace, or a fellow coworker at a desk near you - take a look into your rolodex or immediate work surrounding to meet with other, likely skilled professionals, who share a passion to build. Andreas Duss of Boreal Botanical highlights that his now co-founder, Mike McKenzie was a former client of his, and the founding team at Zurich based Wood & Field met through their former workplace.

💻 Platforms. There's a rising number of startup matchmaking platforms looking to solve this problem and spur innovation. The founders of plant-based pet food startup, Omni, met through a website called Work in Startups after co-founder Shiv Sivakumar put out a call for applications via the platform. YCombinator’s Startup School, cofoundme, CoFoundersLab, and StartHawk also all boast solid success stories of winning teams meeting their match.

🙏 Divine Intervention. Sometimes, life just brings you together. The idea for UK-based VFC came when Matthew Glover, the co-founder of Veganuary, tried Adam Lyon’s vegan chicken dish at his omnivore restaurant. And the founding team at Dubai-based, Sprout was cooked up when co-founders Oz Erbas Soydaner and Katerina Papatryfon, meet whilst walking their dogs. So keep an open mind, maybe that jerk who just cut you in line could one day be your future sparring partner 🤷

💡 Structuring Co-Founder Relationships

Great, you’ve now found your dream cofounder and are ready to get to work. But first, let’s put that relationship on paper and formalize the equity setup. Usually, this step happens right after incorporating –– as founders typically have endless to-do lists, this tends to get left to the last minute, but should really be a top priority.

Every startup’s structure is unique, but there are a few best practices to keep in mind: 

🥧 Avoid 50/50 splits. They sound fair, yes, but can create corporate deadlock in decision making later on. Of course, the minority cofounder faces greater uncertainty and can be forced out by the majority party –– but the initial responsibilities and risk often point to one cofounder taking a larger share. Some disagree with this tip (including YCombinator’s managing director), and European startups do skew more evenly. But we still think it’s best to avoid the risk of deadlock down the road. Here's a helpful guide that might help figure out the best split.

🕒 Vest founder shares. Which simply means setting a specified time period or event where founders can keep all or a certain percentage of their stock shares. A four year vest is the norm and it helps to ensure somebody doesn’t take a big piece or end the business if they leave early on - leaving the other founders in an awkward situation.

💰Build a buyout plan in case a cofounder ends up leaving the company. That includes pre-setting expectations that if a founder leaves during their vesting period, the company can buy back the shares. The share price of the buyback is sometimes pre-set to a nominal fee (i.e. $0.0001 per share), or it can be calculated based on a fair market rate.

True Love Takes Time

Finding a cofounder is a critical and challenging step in your startup story. But as is true with much of the hustle, it’s actually ok to take your time. A few months without a cofounder with you at the wheel is way better than shacking up with the wrong person.

As you start your search, get the word out. Post your story on LinkedIn, attend events, put yourself out there, grab coffee with people who have what you’re missing. Founders often have the impulse to go fast, go alone, and go in secret. But if your idea is solid, then nothing is more important than executing it with the right people.

And if all else fails, drop us a line with what you're building and who you're looking to connect with and we'll see if we can help. No promises.

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