A lot of times people come to me and they'll ask: "Do I need a co founder? Who should I be looking for if I want to find a co-founder?"
There's a lot of research that indicates that solo founders tend to do less well than co-founding teams and that leads many investors to have a bias towards funding complete teams rather than solo founders. But, and this is a big "but," I always tell people it's a lot better to be a solo founder than it is to be a co-founder with a co-founder you don't trust.
That's why it's really important that you find a co founder who is a great complement to you. So how would you go about doing that? Well, first of all, you ought to look in your own network to find people that you've worked with before. When you're trying to find an employee, let alone a co-founder, there's a strong chance that they're not actually what you're looking for. Many times you will hire someone and it doesn't work out.
That's why it's so nice to be able to go to someone that you've worked with before, where you've demonstrated the ability to mesh your styles and accomplish great things together. This could be people who you have worked with at a previous job. It could be people you went to school with. It could be people that you even volunteered with. I've heard of teams that came together because they did the same volunteer activities, or maybe they played soccer together. Mark Pincus, the founder of Zynga, has talked about how a lot of his best people were found on the soccer field. Regardless of what happens, the goal is to find someone who you can trust.
The second thing is obviously you're going to look for someone with a lot of great qualifications. I think everyone understands that. But it's important to note that you want to find a co-founder who compliments you. Sometimes people go out there and they say "I want to hire someone who's just like me." Well, if you're hiring someone who's just like you, what's the point of having you around? It's difficult enough to build a great company but when you have a single person or two people with the same set of skills, that's a handicap you really don't need. It's like tying your hand behind your back.
So try to find a co-founder that's going to complement your skills. The ideal startup team probably includes a couple of different people. So there might be a founder and a couple of co-founders. Ideally, you're going to have somebody with business experience, you're going to have somebody with technical experience. There's classically somebody who is focused on external relationships, and somebody who's focused on keeping things running inside the organization. "Mrs Inside" and "Miss Outside." The whole point of this is that there needs to be a "yin and a yang" to the team.
What you want to do is have a team that covers all these different bases. It's okay if your initial team doesn't cover every single element. Maybe you don't have someone who's a specialist in operations or customer service. You'll be able to add some of that over time, but your basic team should cover as broad a set of skills as possible. If you don't have all the skills and experience necessary within your core team, sometimes you can supplement that team with mentors and advisors.
Focus consistently over time on building your network of advisors and mentors, and expanding your peer group of fellow founders, to make sure you have the critical connectivity you need to find complementary co-founders who share your passion and are a fit with the needs of your company.