In the past, I wrote about hiring for startups and raising money. It’s one of these things that you must do right. Hopefully, on the first try. It’s also, easy to say and really hard to do. There are a lot of things to consider and in most cases, it’s during a time that you are extremely busy with building your product and finding answers to daily fires.
If your core team is not a great one, your chance to build a great business is low. It’s important at the start, when you wish to find a co-founder that will be a good match. This post is aimed to founders and investors. It contains the aspects that I would look for.
Let’s start from the end, the most important aspect for a founder will be determination. Some recognize it as passion or enthusiasm, but I guess it’s going more to toughness and the ability to run this ‘ultra marathon’ with all the crises and issues that will come along the way. It’s the ability to move forward when all odds telling her something else. She should be unstoppable. It’s not stubborn! If the data shows her that she need to change, she will. But it won’t stop her. When the doors are being shut down in her face, she will find the courage to climb from the window and present the idea or close the deal.
Another quality is resourcefulness.
The ‘honeymoon’ will come to its end sooner rather than later and only with resourcefulness, you know that she will know how to adapt. Good examples here are the ability to build a lot on ‘free tier’ and save as much as you can (e.g. using desks out of doors at Amazon etc’).
You also want to see a certain strength in the domain you wish to execute in. It might be part of her intelligence or experience in that domain. These are the strength of the company so it in this early stage, you want to founders to have it. When you interview a potential co-founder, one of the things you might want to test will be the ability to listen and respond to changing environment. In other words, when you encounter founders that are hard to talk to, it’s a great sign to pass.
Communication skills are critical. The founder needs to be a master at communicating their product and convincing it’s a great one. They need to be able to listen and have the courage to change their mind and actions. In other words, she needs the ability to argue like she is right and listen like she is wrong.
Here is a talk I did two years ago. It’s still got a lot of points that are relevant to founders.