The very title ‘cofounder’ is a powerful asset – and can help you negotiate with potential candidates
When you’re starting a company, do yourself a favour and make sure your cofounders don’t have overlapping skills – you don’t need three master’s degrees in business administration (or MBAs) to start a company (in fact, that’s probably a recipe for disaster and PowerPoint suicide). In the early days you need someone to take care of the product and business side, and someone to build the software.
business side, you’ll need to stretch yourself to develop a product that users really want to use, and then seduce a great software developer to work alongside you. If you’re a great developer, make sure you hunt for someone who is dedicated to producing a great business model and a great product. The key team skills that you’re looking for are the ability to discover, design and refine a great product concept (and business model) and the ability to translate that vision into actual software. With those bases covered, you’ve cracked one of the toughest parts of getting started. PASSION. Being an entrepreneur is a vocation. If you’ve ever been stuck in a
job thinking you could do your boss’s job better, or have said to yourself, ‘What the hell is the CEO thinking? I’d never do that in his position’, then you should test yourself and start a business. It doesn’t matter whether your cofounder comes from a business or marketing background, or an engineering or software background, but it does matter that you both have the same level of passion. Make sure your cofounder has the same drive to solve a big problem, to change the status quo. Without the passion, without the drive, you’re never going to overcome the myriad challenges that will appear on the way. Some founders are more equal than others Before you start looking for a cofounder, you need to think carefully about how much control of your business you are willing to give up in order to bring a partner on board. At some points your startup may feel like George Orwell’s Animal Farm. I have definitely experienced the situation where some cofounders bring more to the table than others. If you’re on the more experienced side of the equation, then remember that you don’t always have to go 50–50 into a business. If you’re bringing a well-developed idea, money, or the basis of an app that already has traction to the table, take advantage of your position. Retaining equity where and when you can will pay off down the line. This is a lesson that I have learned from a number of serial entrepreneurs. They know that, as you grow a company, you will invariably need to raise money to help you grow. And, in exchange for money and investment, you will have to give away equity and control. So give away only as much https://rksloans.com/title-loans-la/ equity as you need to – and no more. Hailo early days I joined the Hailo team when there were only a handful of people on board.
If you’re great on the
There was no app yet, only a name, logo and enormous vision. The vision was to enable anyone to hail a taxi in any city in the world via their smartphone. It was a simple – and universal – proposition, but, as you might expect, monstrously complex to deliver. Hailo was the brainchild of Jay Bregman. He was 32 when he founded the company. In Part I, I talked about Jay’s first company, eCourier. Jay is an energetic visionary – his brain runs a million miles a minute. He knew that he needed someone a bit more measured, methodical and experienced by his side. So it was no surprise that he lured Caspar Woolley, the former COO of eCourier, to his new venture. Caspar brought the grey hair, bringing years of experience managing operationally heavy organisations such as Avis, the car rental company. Next, Jay wanted someone with some deeper financial experience and clout. He was introduced to Ron Zeghibe, a seasoned executive who had been chief executive of Maiden – an outdoor-advertising company – and spent much of his earlier career in the private-equity world. Ron had had a very successful career and was by no means in search of something to complicate his happy life. Jay, however, can be very convincing, and within a few weeks a founding team of three was in place. Six is better than three Jay’s vision was big – from the onset he wanted to revolutionise an entire industry. On the surface it was obvious that taxis were used in more or less the same way around the world. In order to capitalise on this enormous market – quickly – Jay realised he needed to get deep into the minds of taxi drivers. This laid the way for the other three Hailo cofounders (yes, there are six cofounders in total) – three London cabbies. Not only did it make sense to have taxi drivers as part of the core team to ensure the product was focused on delivering a great experience for drivers, it would also communicate an air of credibility: that this app and this company really understand their users. It’s worth noting though, that six cofounders is an exception; two or three is more the norm. Once this founding team had been put in place, it was a relatively simple process to get out there and talk to countless drivers and validate the idea. It was a huge advantage from the very beginning. And later it would prove to also be a fantastic public-relations tool.