How to Choose Your Co-Founders: Find Your Future Friends

Like most men out there, I’ve always imagined pulling off an amazing heist. The concept of picking a target and doing all the extravagant planning (where money obviously isn’t an issue since the pay off will be bigger). Then comes the fun part: Getting the team together.

That’s when the Ocean’s 11 montage starts. You know what positions you need filled to pull this off. You need the best, but more importantly, you need people that you trust (since we all know that a wildcard can destroy everything). Overall, you need people you can call your friends.

Now I’m not trying to convince people to do anything criminal here, but I am trying to show just how important and fun it can be to assemble the right team.

When starting a new business, one determinant for success is surrounding yourself with the right people. This can put a lot of stress on the concept of finding the right co-founder for you to work with. There has always been a stigma that we should never mix business and friendships. An overly personal relationship with your colleagues can cause complications in the future—and this is true to an extent. However, since you will be spending the majority of your time working together, it makes sense to collaborate with a co-founder whom you enjoy working with as it will keep the company’s vision alive.

Work-life balance enthusiast Martin Bjergegaard has been dubbed a “Serial Entrepreneur”. Throughout his career, he has been involved with dozens of startups through his Start-up accelerators “Rainmaking” and “Start-up Boot camp”. A key to Martin’s business successes is that he focuses on fostering the greatest team that he can. One of his methods is to recruit people that he classifies as “Future Friends”. These are people whom you may not know closely before you start your business together, yet you have enough common ground that a friendship is sure to follow.

To help you choose your co-founders, here are 3 character traits Martin looks for in his Future Friends:

1. Communicative

Communication is crucial to any personal relationship. Without it, things that go unsaid can fester and grow until the final straw snaps. Therefore, keeping a continuous open dialogue is said to be a key to long lasting relationships.

The same communication is needed between co-founders. As business decisions and strategies are discussed, it’s important that everyone is open with their thoughts and that they are heard. This will preserve a happy work environment and a strong partnership.

2. Similar Passions

We’ve all had those conversations that can go on with ease for hours on end. Whether it’s with people in your football fantasy league, book club, etc., having a common interest that keeps updating and growing keeps communication and motivation high. This translates directly to any company where the partners are passionate about their mission. Having a similar passion helps align a team’s focus, and it also brings them closer together. Martin has admitted that passion has helped his relationships transition from Future Friends, to lifelong friendships.

“We email, text, and call each other like teenage girls. But instead of discussing Justin Bieber’s latest haircut, we passionately discuss the challenges and opportunities in our businesses as well as stories from our daily endeavours.”

3. Trust

Out of all the characteristics of a co-founder, trust is the most important. This seems rather daunting in the sense that it can be hard to trust someone from the start. The key is to judge your potential co-founder’s passion and abilities. Make sure that they have a record of following through on their tasks, and that their passion for the task at hand is strong enough to move a project forward.

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Assembling a dream team can seem quite intimidating. A strong team can skyrocket a startup to success—while a team with too much friction can cause a company to crash and burn. What we need to realise is that we will be spending most of our working hours interacting with these people, so pick someone who you feel that, in any other situation, you would be proud to call your friend.

Philip Trampe
8 Oct 2014

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