The Fastest Way To Lose A Friend? Make Him Your Cofounder

The Fastest Way To Lose A Friend? Make Him Your Cofounder 2
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This is very much against contemporary advice I hear everyday from many in startups, so much so that if Peter Thiel asks me for my contrarian statement about startups – this will be my answer.

How do you choose your friends? People who are on the same wavelength as you. In other words, someone who is similar to you.

This is dangerous in a startup. If you choose your cofounders (or hire) based on someone who you can chill with, that’s exactly what you will end up with. Chill.

How do you (suppose) choose your co-founders? Someone with different perspective compared to you. Someone who will argue with you to show you the opposite end of your view. If you are into the big picture, choose someone who is into details. If you are a product person, choose someone who can sell it. If you are into the business part, choose someone technical.

Why friends are not the best cofounders? As a lonely founder, you might think that it’s a good idea to work side by side with someone everyday that you can an have a meal or few pints with. You might end up giving a portion of the equity, and you might actually have fun working together at first.

But, what happens after the first 6 months? You will end up realising that you just have someone who have the exact same skills as you (i.e. someone who can’t add to your business) and worse, someone who is worse at the same thing you are good at. Now, you are in a tough situation. Are you going to your friend? or your best friend? How are you going to get back the equity (assuming you were dumb like me to not vest it in the first place)?

Worse still, how if you were the one who invested all the money (say you are 100k down) and he didn’t contribute anything? Say he backs down from your ‘new’ startup because he got a better job offer. Can you give up just like that?

Let me tell you what’s going to happen. You are going to drag him/her along with the startup, or you are going to fire him/her. Now, you have lost a cofounder, and a friend who had no business with you in the startup too.

So, trust me. If you are going to find a co founder, don’t pick them from your friends. Instead, spend sometime ‘hiring’ someone who you have no idea about. Get to know them while you are vesting the equity. Then, make them a cofounder.