Where to find a co-founder

Starting a company or executing on a business idea is hard. Many say it is even tougher if you are alone. Many, whom I have interviewed in my podcast Techskaparna, who have started their businesses alone say that it probably would have gone faster had they taken in someone else onboard. However, it is also difficult to find that person or persons. It is a super important decision - it could definitely be a "make it or break it" one, and you need to match on so many levels.

I get a lot of questions on this topic and that is why I felt compelled to share my knowledge within this area and help anyone if I could. I have written a lot of other articles on related topics, such as Why have so many entrepreneurs previously been freelancers?, What is an MVP and how do you build it and have my own podcast Techskaparna in which I interview tech founders from Sweden. Therefore, I feel experienced enough to guide others. I would say that a lot of different factors influence which approach to finding a co-founder would be the most successful for you. Just to mention a few of those factors:

  • How far you have come in starting to build your product - your progress and current status. It could range from everything from not yet having decided the problem you want to tackle or you might already have a product up and running with users and sales and need help with taking it to the next level.
  • If you have formulated your idea - in what industry your problem space is in - for example in tech, food, retail, gaming, finance, medicine, recycling or, if we slice it in another way, what platform your problem space is in - native mobile apps, web apps, third party developer app platforms or anything else along those lines. If we slice it in yet another way - what part of the distribution chain you are in - wholesales, manufacturing, retail and finally if you are selling B2B or B2C or even B2B2C.
  • What preferences on financing you have going in - whether or not you want to bootstrap (self-finance) or take in risk capital.
  • If you are looking for a technical co-founder or a business/salesperson, for example - but either way you are probably looking for someone who compliments your own professional skills and personal characteristics.
  • Whether or not you want a person geographically close to you or if that does not matter - if he or she could be from all over the world.

There are a lot of factors which weigh in, but nevertheless, let us go straight into how to find a co-founder. Here I have gathered the different ways I have heard that people have found their co-founders through. Hence, these are proven approaches that work - knowingly or unknowingly. If we break it down, finding a co-founder is just meeting a person with a shared interest and that you can do in so many different ways. However, new approaches seem to pop up all the time and there could also be other established approaches as well that I have failed to gather here.

With that said, here are the different ways of finding a co-founder:

  • School

    • The absolute majority I would say meet in school and particularly on university level. They start working together on a project and the rest becomes history.

  • Your employer

    • Many also meet via their current employer and go off and build something together - perhaps even in the same problem space as their previous employer. This approach, just like the school approach, is of course great since you have already worked together.

  • Common contacts

    • By talking about your idea - the problem and proposed solution - with people you send out signals. People are going to start trying to hook you up with their contacts within that same problem space.

  • Incubators or accelerators

    • You can meet your next co-founder through a local incubator or through a global programme.

  • Stand alone courses/programmes

    • Attending a course or programme could be a particularly good way of meeting new people with a shared interest.

  • Meetups

    • The meetup culture might have peaked, but I have heard of A LOT of people who have met their co-founders this way.

  • Conferences or events

    • Physical or remote happenings in which you share a common interest.

  • Closed or exclusive communities or groups

    • Slack, Discord or Telegram communities or even Facebook or Linkedin groups are particularly good at connecting people with a shared interest.

  • Co-working spaces

  • Web forums or blogs

    • Such as Indiehacker, Stackoverflow, Reddit or any website with a chat/commenting section.

  • Social media

    • On Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and so on you can simply write a post or create an image or video and share it with your friends/followers.

  • Advertisements such as buying an ad on Linkedin or on any other jobs market

    • You can create an advert. We see job advertisements everyday on different webpages or even in the newspaper. A co-founder advert is really like a job advert.

  • Advertising on your on webpage(s)

    • If you have your own personal webpage or have created one for your startup - you can advertise your need there.

  • Co-founder matching services

    • There are a lot of websites and services that match co-founders.

  • Podcasts

    • Some podcasts start as podcasts, but grow into communities with physical or remote gatherings and events for their listeners.

  • Meeting apps

    • It could be Clubhouse, GoFrendly (for women) or even through Tinder. Some mobile apps are created to connect people. For example, if you are new in a city you can find friends that way or if you want to find someone to date. This is of course also an opportunity to find someone to work with.

In conclusion, in order to find a co-founder you need to expose yourself and express your needs and wishes to other people. If you start doing that, the rest will follow. In this list, I have not been too specific, but rather mentioned the different ways of finding a co-founder on a high level. You can Google to find specific accelerator programmes, for example. I have not valued them or said any specifics, but if you want my tips on a specific podcasts or matching services, or have any other question, please write in my web forum.

Best of luck in navigating the startup jungle - with or without a co-founder by your side.

/Anna Leijon

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