Will the real co-founder, please stand-up


May I have your attention, please? Will the real co-founder please stand up? I repeat, will the real co-founder please stand up?


“What is my definition of a startup co-founder?” I got asked this question twice yesterday. I thought it must be a sign, so I decided to clarify my take on this interesting topic.

A textbook definition of a co-founder is a person who, in conjunction with other individuals, is instrumental in starting a business, charity or some other enterprise. Believe it or not, but employees nr 1, 2, 3, 4 and even 5 are also instrumental in starting a business, so this definition is not quite right.

A simpler definition is – a person who founds or establishes something with another. Quite straightforward, but it misses the WHY? Why (and whom) should you get as a co-founder? And what about people who come later, but have disproportionately huge influence in the early days of the company.  

In my view, a co-founder is a full-time member of a startup team who is instrumental in building it into a business:  

(1) by multiplying results of other co-founders/team members;

(2) to whom other co-founders/team members go for advice;

(3) who pushes everyone outside of their comfort zone and can & will challenge the CEO.

As you progress from a startup to a business and you have sufficient capital to hire the best of the best, then hopefully every executive in your team will multiply your results, be smarter than you and will challenge you.

But until then – your only option to attract the best talent is by enthusing them with the grand vision and getting them onboard as co-founders, either on Day 1 or Day 10.

However, as Jeff Bezos loves to say – in the startup world every day should be Day 1.


by Roman Grigoriev