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The complementary co-founder

More crucial than building the company itself, finding a Co-Founder is a difficult but key ingredient in the recipe of a company’s success. Because of that, I felt it deserved some more light shed on it. The “Founding Family” isn’t a topic that’s discussed often, but should be — just as often as marketing, product, and team building.

Over the course of almost one year now building Liberio, I’ve learned a lot and am fortunate enough to have a great Co-Founder. We’ve had plenty of discussions, meetings, and decisions that had to be made during that time. And although everything always runs smooth, I can easily see how and where a company fails because the relationship between its founders is not solid.

65% of high-potential startups fail as a result of conflict among co-founders — Noam Wasserman, Professor at Harvard Business School

Much like entering most relationships (business, friendship, and love), there are core principles and values they’re founded and based on which enable it to stand strong in tough times and flourish from it during the good.

The DNA should always be a match

If you look at it in a similar light to a family, you start to see the severity behind having the proper DNA for the company. The founders’ values, traits and beliefs are passed down and shape the rest of the company from the very beginning.

Employees who are eventually hired, share the same beliefs, helping to carry the company toward the goals already set out when it was first formed. The DNA is where the company’s success truly lies, turning its solid structure from a house to a home.

Drive in the same direction

Everyone knows when building a company, there are a multitude of ways it can branch off toward during its growth. From the beginning, it’s crucial to solidify thoughts and feelings toward major future decisions. So come decision-making time, it’s as seamless as it could possibly be. Some of the most renowned cofounders were able to build groundbreaking products solely because they wanted it the same as the other.

“Investors scrutinize the dynamic between co-founders just as much as a startup’s idea. A business plan and customer base can change, but a founding team doesn’t.”

When Nico and I first started working on Liberio, we knew that no matter what, if there was a problem that needed to be solved, we both set out to do so. We have a clear (mutual) understanding of what it takes to accomplish that goal and always keep it the forefront of our decision-making. At the beginning, we made it clear to each other where we saw the company going and the potential options we had for it. More than anything, the importance is our Authors and how they benefit from our actions.

An understanding of roles

It’s important to have a clear understanding of what each individual brings to the table and the roles you’ll play. Much like any relationship, it’s important to find someone who complements you where you lack, rather than compromises it. Where one lacks, the other picks up, with a mutually agreed upon “middle ground” to meet at.

One major aspect I’m continually grateful for is how seamlessly Nico and I fell into our roles. From the beginning, it was set in stone that he would handle the engineering and I would handle the product design. We’re still very small, so aside from engineering and product design, we both handle the bulk of other work as well — Nico focusing on a lot of the support and legal side and I handling all marketing which goes hand-in-hand with product design. Business decisions are always made together though, which is something that will always remain the same.

I’m still learning a lot but having a great time doing so, with a great business partner. How do you and your co-founder(s) work together? What are some core values that make up your company DNA? I’d love to know! Let’s chat about it on Twitter.

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