April 10, 2019

What questions should I ask a possible co-founder to make sure I will like working with him or her?

Amando Abreu @aabreu

Are there some behavioral/temperament inclined questions I can ask to see if I'm working with someone who shares certain core values with myself? Do you recommend any books or blog posts on the topic?

Thanks!

#ask-ih

  1. 4

    It's not a question - but I would highly recommend working with a person first before committing to a co-founder position. When you work together you will get to know each other a bit and get a better feel as to whether you are a good fit.

    1. 3

      This is the right answer. Co founders are like spouses. You have to really know them well enough before making that sort of commitment. I also suggest you first try out a small project together and see if you can work with this person. I don't recommend getting into anything serious with people you just met. You can hire them as a contractor or even employee but not co-founders. It may work in rare cases but you just don't want to take that risk with someone you have recently met.

      1. 1

        Yes, so much this. I've made some stupid/bad decisions in the past. It took me a few times to get it right and I'm convinced it's because I hired the person for 2 years before handing over any ownership.

    2. 1

      like others have said work with them. There are no right questions to ask since people can lie. Working with them 1 on 1 is the only way to know

  2. 2

    @lynnetye outlines core values you may want to consider / talk through with a potential co-founder on her site https://keyvalues.com. She also has great blog posts on the topic — hope that helps!

  3. 1

    People are so interesting. The problem with just asking questions is that you will get responses based on them understanding WHY they are being asked the question. IE if they believe they will be a co-founder they will gear their answers to ensure they are positioned to be THAT co-founder you are looking for.

    I agree with others that working with them in some form or fashion will be helpful. Core Value alignment is also great.

    One more step to take it even further though would be to understand what your faults and pitfalls are in the business. Are you good with people but bad with money? Then maybe a co-founder who has more financial experience would be a better choice?

    I'd also understand how you work. Are you an internal or external processor of information? Do you like to talk about a problem out or meditate on it before chatting? Know this about yourself will help you to align with a co-founder who can best complement this way of processing.

    I actually just posted on this very topic.

    https://www.indiehackers.com/post/the-connection-between-your-ears-and-your-brain-069c7b8d58

    Feel free to give it a read and if I can help you on this journey let's talk!

  4. 1

    The Motley Crue book Dirt gives some insight on this. That band had 4 founders from diverse backgrounds that all worked well together.

  5. 1

    I have to conquer with a few most of the answers saying that there really is no right questions from the get-go because people often will say whatever you want to hear.

    That being said, you could do a little initial test in the beginning to gauge their commitment. Schedule a work session on the weekend or a time that is not super convenient. See how they response, and what level of enthusiasm they have to work during a non-conventional time.

    Often with your businesses and startups, you'll have to put in crazy long hours, and if your partner is unwilling to do that, then it might be time to search for a new one.

  6. 1

    If you have to ask this question the answer is no. Like a spouse, you know when you know. Do things together and this takes care of itself. Starting a company or getting married is something you hope to do a very minimal number of times.

  7. 1

    As others have pointed out, the most important thing is to work together first. There are all sorts of things that might pop up that you'd never think to ask about.

    Second to that is to make sure you share the same values. How do you treat others? How do you treat yourselves? Basically, what are some things that might result in the two of you coming to resent each other? There are lots of factors here. For example, you may think it's a crime to work more than 50 hours a week, while your cofounder may think you're betraying the business by not working 80 hours a week.

  8. 1

    Imho, ownership it is. It's a boring but sensitive topic. If you wanted him/her to join you, you should ask honesty how much do they want. You can realize how they respect you and how serious they are for this answer.
    https://joel.is/avoid-the-50-50-co-founder-model-heres-why/

  9. 0

    Do you like cats or dogs?