One of the things I have learned when working to build a startup team is that if you run a recruitment process trying to find the right co-founders, there is a huge risk you will eventually get to talk to people basically looking for a job.
Like in a normal recruitment process? Duuh!
Saying this I mean absolutely no disrespect to the great people, I have met and talked to. Far from it. They are truly great.
What I do mean though is that when you’re trying to find the right candidate with co-founder potential for a startup in a very short period of time, the odds that you will run into the person, who is just deeply in love with the problem, you’re looking to solve – like yourself should be – is really really poor.
That – to me – is a lot of what separates a co-founder from a key hire but nonetheless a hire.
Meeting the potential co-founder during a recruitment process is most likely down to sheer luck. And it’s totally awesome if it happens. Absolutely.
But should you count on getting lucky?
What I have found you most likely will get instead are great people
(1) looking to buy into a very convincing pitch,
(2) comparing what you’re offering with the job they already have,
(3) looking for an economic incentive on the short term that looks like the one they already have in their present role and
(4) have a deep feeling of uncertainty about risking the jump from something they know well and which feels safe into something they know nothing about and just seems fraught with risk and pitfalls.
And it is super natural. Because they don’t know any better yet. And because they haven’t had time to fall in love with the problem, yet.
Start super early getting in touch with people, networking, sharing ideas and building that sense of needing to do something to fix a shared understanding of a problem.
In fact, you can probably not start early enough.
Don’t put expectations too high. Don’t demand anything of the people you connect with in the process. Let it grow on them and keep notes of those who look like they’re really getting to the place, where they need to be in order to make the perfect potential co-founder for your startup.
Share the love. Feel it. As deeply as possible.
Why is falling in love with the problem so important?
For a couple of reasons:
First of all, I have a deep sense that falling in love with the problem and – by extension – those who are experiencing the problem is fundamental towards developing and going to market with a killer solution for it.
Second – and this is perhaps the most important part for the individual – is that as times do get tough and not everything is easy, it is the love for the problem and potentially being on a course to solve it that will play a big role carrying you through the hardship – and help you and your team ultimately prevail.
Without it, you instead risk ending up deeply lost.