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?

– Eminem

“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 a disproportionately huge influence in the early days of the company?

In my view, a co-founder is a full-time member of a team, who is instrumental in building a startup not just into a business, but into an institution for the ages:  

(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;

(4) who is willing and capable of making themselves into learning machines and keep their personal learning curve way ahead of the company’s growth curve. 

(5) who thinks “Hitting my numbers isn’t enough. I am failing if our mission isn’t succeeding”.

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 on your team will multiply your results, be smarter than you and will challenge you

by Roman Grigoriev

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