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Finding a Cofounder for your Startup

Serial entrepreneur and business consultant Jeffery McMahon shared some key insights about finding a good founder for your startup business.

Starting a business is a heavy life, but having the right cofounders can help diversify the risk and increase the chance of success. Not to be a downer, but according to Harvard Business School, 65% of all startups fail in the first five years. And Founder Institute reports that only 56% of startups have all their cofounders working together after 3 years. So how do you find the right fit?

Look beyond just having similar interests and have deep discussions about:

  • Values and vision: what do you and your co-founder want to get out of the experience? Are you aligned on what goals you have for the company, including what success looks like?

  • Evaluate complementary skills: find a co-founder who excels where you struggle. Bad with numbers? Find someone who is great with financials. Do you hate to pitch? Find a co-founder who thrives in the spotlight.

  • Review work style and ethic:do you all thrive in a similar work environment? Will you be working 70 hours, while your co-founder only puts in 20? And are you aligned on ethical questions that may arise as you grow the company?

  • Assess communication preferences: Do you prefer to work side by side, or via zoom, Slack, text, or email?

  • Is the partnership one that will stand up to the rigors of building a business? When growing a company, you want to make sure your cofounder can handle the stress. Communication matters most when the stakes and stress are at their highest points.

As crass as it might sound, a background check can help bring out any undisclosed history that might influence future decisions. If you can pass these baseline assessments then you can move onto more formal discussions.

If you have questions about starting your own business, contact IDEAHub Director Maia Donohue at and learn more about IDEAHub at

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