What to Look for in a Cofounder? – Modus Podcast // Ep. 3

Modus VC · The One Thing You Should Look for in a Co-Founder

Episode Overview

What is the most important thing you have to look for in your co-founder? On this 3rd episode of the Modus Podcast, Kareem Elsirafy, managing partner at Modus Capital, speaks his mind on the key points to consider when choosing your co-pilot on your next business venture.


Kareem Elsirafy: Website // LinkedIn

Episode Transcript

Hey everyone! Kareem Elsirafy here, managing partner of Modus Capital, and this is our third episode of the modus podcast coming to you from Cairo, Egypt.
Today we’re going to talk about co-founders, things to look for in a co-founder. Whether or not you need one, things to agree upon with your cofounder before getting started and how to communicate and resolve problems as problems will most certainly arise. So a lot of people think that you actually need a co-founder. It’s not really necessary. Um, most of the time what you find are colleagues that have worked together in a bigger corporation are, are, uh, went to school together, understand a problem. And what they do is they go out together and they have an idea for a business venture and begin it on, on their own. So this is usually the way it happens very organically, but it’s not necessary.

If you have an idea or a concept, don’t feel like you need somebody to be there to help validate it or to be able to support you. You can find these different types of support through mentors, through friends, families, spouse. There’s a lot of other channels for you to be able to find specific types of support.

So if you do make a decision to bring on a co-founder, I strongly recommend that you don’t rush. It’s not a race. Take your time and be picky. Be overly picky!
This is somebody that you’re going to probably spend more time with than anybody else in your life over the next several years. Working through difficult problems, challenges, both personally, professionally. It’s important that you bring somebody in that you mesh with very well, that complements you. Try to find somebody that has a different skill set than you, a skillset that the company needs.

This is important because you get a different perspective on the problems that you’re encountering. You get different perspectives on possible solutions and that you can complement each other in a way that makes you guys whole. This is important for a senior management team because everybody’s strategy is different. Everybody’s personalities different, especially as you continue to build your team and as senior managers, you’re going to have some people on your team and different personalities resonate with you and you’re going to have some that will resonate with a different type of personality as well. So you want to be able to have a very well balanced, well-rounded management team.

So you’ve made a decision to bring on a co-founder. You found somebody that is going to be a well-balanced co-founder to again provide the right type of skills that are going to fill your gaps and be complementary to your skillset.

It’s really really critical at this point that you’re very, very transparent and you put a good structure and you agree on that in a way that is agreeable by both parties and you solidify it. Too many times have I seen founders who begin a venture together. They don’t decide or define on who is going to have what equity and who is going to be responsible for what. And as you continue to get traction and the company continues to grow, you start having friction between the two and you’re essentially back at the negotiating table when this is something that you should have really clarified from the beginning. So make sure that everybody is transparent, that everybody’s incentivized properly and that everything is very clear. Everybody understands their responsibilities, their expectations, and what is going to be given for the time and effort that is being put in.

Last thing is to establish a good framework on how you guys will communicate and how you will resolve problems. One of the biggest things that can really cripple an early-stage company is not being able to resolve conflict in an amicable way, not having a good framework to be able to discuss things, and most importantly not communicating well.

Communication is critical from the bottom of your organization all the way up to the top, and it’s extremely critical between co-founders and the senior management team. Make sure that you have an open-door policy, never make it so that one co-founder or anybody in your organization feels scared or hesitant to be able to come with you and communicate a problem. This is only going to cause problems down the road. Make sure, again that you have very clear open lines of communication. Make sure that you guys stick to that.

And the easiest way to do that is by asking, ask more and more times than you don’t on what are some of the challenges? What are some of the things that you’ve been encountering? Just have a chit chat once a week, once a month, where it’s an open dialogue for discussion where everybody feels safe, they feel like they can communicate. And what you’ll find is that you’re surfacing things that are critical and integral to the success of the business and you can both strategize and find ways to approach and overcome these issues or address them.

This is the end of the episode. Thanks a lot for tuning in and we hope that you found this valuable. Please don’t forget to follow our social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and we’ll talk to you on the next episode. Signing off. Have a good day!

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