Finding fellow travellers for your business

One of the things I’ve experienced first hand over the years in starting businesses and observing start ups is that single founders are rarely successful. Partnerships or teams are always much better.

There is a long and pretty obvious list of examples — Bill Gates & Paul Allen (then Steve Ballmer), Jerry Yang & David Filo, Larry Page & Sergey Brin, Niklas Zennstrom & Janus Friis, Chad Hurley & Steve Chen, Pierre Omidyar & Jeff Skoll. Even Steve Jobs needed a Steve Wozniak once upon a time. In fact maybe the lesson is you need a Steve 🙂

It’s a rare business that succeeds with a single visible founder. In fact even in situations like Facebook where Mark Zuckerberg is front and centre, in background there is Dustin Moskovitz playing the role of co-founder. Jeff Bezos and Amazon is one of the few super-successful solo examples that springs to mind.

People need people and great founders need partners — and great founder partnerships need great teams.

Great partnerships are like marriages, they need a lot of common ground, strong mutual attraction and a willingness to work hard – especially through the inevitable issues. In fact some of them are like Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake.

This is not a post on what to look for, that’s been done well elsewhere and we’ll deal with it in later posts — as well as team-building.

This is some practical advice on what you can do if you have a great idea – for Seedcamp, or otherwise – and you want to go about finding a partner.

It’s not easy, but in this age of networks, here are some suggestions which grease the wheels.

You can start easily online:

  • Check out Seedcamp on Facebook – as it opens up, Groups and associated Events are becoming more powerful as networking tools
  • Get engaged in Seedcamp Forums – contribute to and check out ours
  • Use Linkedin – if you know what you’re looking for it can be a powerful tool for finding the right people

But there’s no substitute for the real world, so:

  • Opencoffee Club – now in almost 60 cities around the world from Boston to Zagreb. There are some really inspiring stories emerging of companies being started. You are likely to be close to one and if not, start one and see who turns up. You’ll find you can meet in person co-founders, fellow entrepreneurs and folks to build your team. You can also meet people on the forums.
  • Barcamp – a really inspiring phenomenon, a place to meet great hackers and people passionate about building products
  • Meetup – pretty much in every city, you can find experts on most topics, take your pick

Good luck in finding your partners – it’s worth it and your business will be better for it.

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