I’ve been spending a good portion of the last few weeks networking on the local scene in an attempt to find a co-founder or technical lead to help me build out a prototype. I’ve met a lot of great people, from really talented students already thinking about how to start companies to programmers fully entrenched in multiple startups, but I haven’t found anyone up to my challenge. What am I looking for that’s so hard to find?
Originality. If you’re going to launch a startup with only a few people on your team, you need to find people thirsty for something original. It needs to be in their blood. I don’t want to hear about how fast you can turn code out or how many projects you’ve worked on, I want to hear about what you’ve done that no one else has done before.
Integrity. Anyone who comes on board as a co-founder (or, to be honest, up to employee fifty), needs to be above all scrutiny. This is why so many first time entrepreneurs launch companies with their friends, spouses, or former business contacts, but in lieu of having one of these on board, I need you to be one of the most upstanding and honest people I’ve ever met. I’m looking for the salt of the earth.
Passion. The Founder Institute puts a lot of stake on passion during the application process, but until recently I didn’t understand why. It doesn’t matter how detailed our project specs are, they will change. As will our business plan, revenue model, customers and employees. The difference between a good team and a great team is based on a shared passion. I don’t expect everyone to agree all the time, and I don’t expect anyone to back down easily or gracefully, even if proven wrong, but I do expect everyone to bring passion that will bring all of use back tomorrow and the day after with new ideas and a greater sense of purpose.
Skill. In all my working experience, one attribute above all others has made me happy to work next to, break bread with, or celebrate accomplishments with a coworker: talent. You might be self taught and full or enormous potential, or you could be a veteran with 20 years of industry experience, but you’re most definitely competent in all things you undertake, excited by the prospect of the unknown, and able, neigh, delighted, to explain your successes and failures to others. In short, once you’ve set your mind on something, you know it is achievable.
These attributes aren’t just what I want from a co-founder, they’re what I want from my friends. The goal here isn’t to find a co-founder, or to hire a lead developer, it’s to build a company I’ll be proud to work for in ten years. If you could look down the road, what values would you most want to see in your work place in ten years? Would you work for a company built on the above values? What others would you add?