The Toad@JFDI: What is the secret to finding the perfect co-founder?

With an idea in place, one needs a dream team for it to work. However, finding compatible and competent co-founders can be a challenge

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How do I find a co-founder I can trust? This is a common question founders ask when they have a brilliant idea that they want to actualise, but may not have all the necessary skills to execute the plan alone. In order to run a startup, you need to be able to design it, commercialise it and develop it, involving sub-categories of skills in order to be fully competent. As reported by Forbes you need three people for the team to be strong a Hipster (creative), a Hustler (the one with business acumen) and a Hacker (technical).

In Singapore, hackers are on a tight supply, as reported by e27 in this article – Singapore, where has all your talent gone? Hence, there is a real challenge for non-technical founders to recruit hackers into their teams. Developers are also well-aware that their skills are sought after, but not all of them are willing to work under a co-founding agreement, unless they see great prospects with a startup idea.

In Thailand, perhaps the case is quite contrary. According to Surawat “Sam” Promyotin from Stylhunt, the issue is that startup teams are often comprised of too many engineering talents and none with expertise in sales, marketing and design. The same he said is the problem in the United States.

Also Read: [Updated] YOYO Holdings secures US$1.3M from 3 Japanese venture capital firms

Talking about his experience with Stylhunt, Sam said that the young entrepreneurs Phiraphon “Bird” Penmas, Pitchapon “Big” Penmas, Methee “Koo” Trewichian and Kongkiat “Kong” Supagitijongjalearn were introduced to Sam through a friend while he was still working with Groupon Thailand. He was at first impressed with the passion, attitude, and thought process of the group, but did not join them immediately. They kept meeting for the next few months. This gave him the opportunity to assess their compatibility over time until he was convinced that he should leave his corporate job and join the startup as their full-time CEO.

Sam said that they do not follow the norm of having three or less members in the startup group. The members are assigned functions according to their capabilities. Every contribution then becomes valuable. Though the members are not proficient in the English language, each one has demonstrated their commitment and passion by pitching to public audiences at one time or another.

He remarked that in addition to working with them for a while to observe their temperament, there are certain attributes that would make a good co-founder. One of the indicators is their attitude towards problems; how they deal with issues that would inevitably come up. According to him, active listening and willing to learn attitude is much better than a defensive one. This is because communication is often a big issue with organisations, and being authentic is important in getting things done.

One last testimony to the team’s harmony and synergy is that they have even taught each other how to play musical instruments, allowing them to rock out on drums, guitar, and bass between meetings when they worked at Sam’s condo in Bangkok.

Theon Leong

Theon is a skeptic who believes in possibilities after learning that three thirds of a pie does not add up to one and that cats can be dead and alive at the same time. He writes about business and technology, and is particularly interested in deconstructing complex ideas into bite-sized chunks. His favorite novel is The Little Prince, and spends his free time on chess and video games.

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