I’m looking for a co-founder

At this point, it looks quite likely that I’m going to really work on my startup in earnest. Now, this might seem odd, since my startup has been around, in some sense, since I released my first iPhone app back in August 2008. But I was still a student back then, and my tremendous success to date– well over 5 million downloads via the iTunes App Store– was just me, hacking and tinkering on my own little projects. The fact that I can make a full-time living from these apps might due to luck just as much it’s due to skill.

So it’s time to take it to the next level. I think the startup culture would suit me quite well. I love talking with entrepreneurs. I enjoy dreaming up new businesses and new solutions to problems. And every time I visit Silicon Valley, I want to go back.

The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups

Paul Graham years ago wrote an article with this title– The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups. Topping the list: “Single Founder.” Right now, I am the only founder of GreenGar Studios, unless you count my dad (but he does the finances; he doesn’t really work on the business). I doubt my dad would want to move to Silicon Valley. And he’s not a programmer. Here’s the relevant passage from Paul’s essay:

Have you ever noticed how few successful startups were founded by just one person? Even companies you think of as having one founder, like Oracle, usually turn out to have more. It seems unlikely this is a coincidence.

What’s wrong with having one founder? To start with, it’s a vote of no confidence. It probably means the founder couldn’t talk any of his friends into starting the company with him. That’s pretty alarming, because his friends are the ones who know him best.

But even if the founder’s friends were all wrong and the company is a good bet, he’s still at a disadvantage. Starting a startup is too hard for one person. Even if you could do all the work yourself, you need colleagues to brainstorm with, to talk you out of stupid decisions, and to cheer you up when things go wrong.

The last one might be the most important. The low points in a startup are so low that few could bear them alone. When you have multiple founders, esprit de corps binds them together in a way that seems to violate conservation laws. Each thinks “I can’t let my friends down.” This is one of the most powerful forces in human nature, and it’s missing when there’s just one founder.

So is it the case that I couldn’t talk any of my friends into joining me? No. I didn’t really try, because there isn’t a good fit. My friends here in Los Angeles are wonderful friends, but they’re not startup founders. I’m sure if I really pushed, I could get them to join me. But it wouldn’t be good for either of us. In some cases, starting a startup is not what they want to do. In other cases, they want to pursue a different line of business, like web apps, or contracting and consulting. I want to do a startup in the mobile space, and that requirement means that most of my friends don’t fit the bill.

That got me thinking: how would I describe my ideal co-founder?

What I’m looking for in a co-founder

I’ve come up with a list of 5 things. This is not meant to specifically exclude anyone, or to be so comprehensive as to include anyone who does match. It’s just a way of helping me to focus my thoughts and figure out just what it is that I’m looking for. And if my future co-founder reads this post, maybe this post is just what they needed to read to determine that we’d be a good fit.

1. Passionate about mobile

I’m quite certain now that my startup will focus on the mobile space. By that, I mean doing something specifically related to mobile devices like the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android phones, Palm Pre/Pixi, etc. My co-founder must be similarly passionate about the present and future of mobile.

2. Entrepreneurial

Dedicated to the startup, to startup culture, and to the startup lifestyle. My co-founder would want to start a business and make it grow. He or she is not satisfied with a normal job. They want the excitement and opportunity of a startup, and they make things happen fast.

3. Similar worldview

We need to get along and see the world in a compatible way.

4. Technical

Programming background. No need for it to be formal; learning how to program on your own, or being taught by someone outside of a traditional schooling system, might actually be preferable.

5. Enjoys travel

We would almost certainly move to Silicon Valley. And we might even travel beyond that, as I’d like to explore new cultures and figure out ways to work with people in, say, Vietnam.

Do these five points resonate with you? You might be the co-founder I’m looking for. Get in touch (I’m sure you can figure out how. Facebook, my contact form, a comment below– all have a decent chance of reaching me).

7 Responses to “I’m looking for a co-founder”

  1. Ben says:

    Are you still at SC?

  2. Vakul Malhotra says:

    Search for a co-founder….I’ve been told it’s harder than finding a wife/partner.
    Oh well, is your search still on?

  3. Alec Dobbie says:

    I’ve just launched a free service to help find co-founders. Give it a go, its at http://foundersfarm.com. If you have any comments please let me know.



  4. brenda says:

    Are you still looking for a co-founder? Please let me know. Thanks!

  5. John S says:

    I’m in the same situation, mostly because I’ve been moving too fast and working too hard getting this out of me and on paper and funded – now have to do those surveys, help! is all I can say. Co-founder needed now, in Charlotte, NC

  6. Rob says:

    You guys should take a look at this new site called http://www.mergeskills.com. They allow you to be matched similar to eharmony to another entrepreneur or skilled professional.

  7. nde Frankline says:

    Hi i have just open a locale computer school in a rural area in my country and am in need of founds to make the locale people enjoy it,is to help the poor,and the under privilege ones,joint me let make this program a susses.

Leave a Reply