How to "date" a potential co-founder?


It's often mentioned in startup circles that partnering with a co-founder is a bit like getting married. You form a bound of sorts, and are in it together thick or thin. The importance of "dating" a potential co-founder is also mentioned a lot. Makes sense, I think, seeing as it's such a big commitment.

I'm wondering if anyone has any good ideas for how to conduct this "dating" period?

The first thing that pops into my head is trying to collaborate together on some related aspect to the startup you are thinking about building with them. But perhaps this implies some sort of obligation. And how would you deal with the resulting IP if "dating" doesn't work out?

How can you test a working relationship without obligation or any potential IP type implications?

Co-Founder Relationships

asked May 27 '11 at 15:12
404 points

3 Answers


Great question. How about doing some consulting together or maybe a project for a non-profit. It may be better to do the "dating" around work separate from the "company" you want to start. (otherwise you might work on the next Facebook together while "dating" the then break up and find yourself being sued by your ex-partner).

By working on something completely separate, you get to date and then it goes well you've built up the trust to discuss The Big Idea.

answered May 29 '11 at 14:38
Clay Nichols
737 points


It's a cool concept and great question.

I kind of fell into it as a "dating excercise" at uni by sitting around with friends and discussing options day in and day out with 3 or 4 people, then doing projects with them and in the end 3 of us started the business (14 years ago). We had time and no real expectations just lots of ideas and ego to thing we could do it mixed with the stupidity not to see that we couldn't.

Recently on this forum is have started finding others with a similar voice and concepts answering the same qustions I do ... Again I consider working with the
but without a direct pressure to make the first thing work... I just feel they will work eventually because of the similar interests, goals and stages in life.

Like dating keep talking till you click.

answered May 27 '11 at 19:42
Robin Vessey
8,394 points


In my opinion, finding a co founder has certain criteria attached to it like

  • look for people who have abilities you are weak in as they will complement you.
  • Discussion and sharing of ideas is a good start.
  • Once you are past that and find some chemistry building up and can get the ideas going in a sense that both can contribute to the ideas. go for lots of ideas, even discussing new idea every day isn't bad.
  • Next step would be to build a level of trust, its very important if the buisness is going to be successful.
answered May 29 '11 at 18:02
171 points

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Co-Founder Relationships