What's the difference between a founder and a co-founder?


I was wondering what the difference between a founder and a co-founder was.

I am the founder of a company and I have worked on the project by myself then brought on board a partner to work on the project with me.
I also have 3 programmers working the initial site.

The project has not launched yet.

What would my partner's title be and what would the 3 programmer's titles be?


Co-Founder Entrepreneurs

asked May 4 '11 at 04:08
81 points
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2 Answers


Founder is usually used to describe a business where a single person launched the entire business. This could be as programmer/marketing/sales guy, or as an "idea" guy/CEO who hired others to implement his idea (be it for cash, equity, or nothing).

Co-Founder is usually used when 2 or more people come together to launch a business. Typically they have complementary skills ("idea guy", "business guy", "programmer guy", "guy with rich uncle"), and 1 person may contribute multiple skills.

Launch (or lack of) is less important than phase of the project. If you put most of the architecture and initial implementation together as the sole lead, and are now bringing others on to handle increasing work load, I would say that you are the Founder alone.

If you intend for your partner to share a significant amount of the core decision making load, and that you intend to treat him as an equal and delegate a batch of responsibility to him, then he should probably be labelled as a Co-Founder. You could change your card to read Co-Founder, or leave it as Founder.

For the employees, it depends on what their role is. You should think about what you expect from the programmers over the course of say the next 5 years. Do one or more of them have the chops to be a CTO? A VP of Engineering? A Director of QA? A Manager of Comments? Only you know this. I would recommend that you don't hand out honorary titles just for the sake of doing so. Calling someone "VP of Engineering" today, when you know there is a 90% chance you'll have to hire a more experienced VP of Engineering in 12 months will just cause friction and drama later.

Titles for employees that are not externally facing (meeting investors and clients) are not super important. Titles for you and your partner are important only to the extent of giving clear signals to the people you are dealing with where questions/comments/etc. should be directed. At this stage few people will care if you call yourself Founder, CEO, President, Chief Technologist, or just "Andy".

answered May 4 '11 at 04:34
Brian Karas
3,407 points
  • Thank you Brian! :) – Andy 13 years ago


To sum it up:

  • founder = the single person who founded the company.
  • co-founder = a person in the group of people who founded the company together.
answered May 4 '11 at 04:39
Ron M.
4,224 points
  • what is the definition of "founded"? – Andy 13 years ago

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