5 Absolute Must-Haves For Co-Founder Compatibility

Here are the five most important things to consider when looking for your own co-founders.

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A group of successful startup CEOs recently asked fellow members in an online forum: when do you know that it’s okay to start a company with someone?

Half a dozen people chimed in, all with similar advice, namely: Start with someone you’ve known for a few years and several months at the last. And start with someone you’ve had experience working with.

I violated both points.


Founders At First Sight

If the founders above are like the guy who has a steady girlfriend for four years and then pops the question, I’m the girl who meets a guy in Las Vegas and takes him to the Little White Wedding Chapel to get married. And actually stay married.

Nanoly Bioscience, a company I co-founded, began at a college dive bar. I met my co-founder, Balaji Sridhar, at said bar and started working on a company together the next day. That was 2011. Three years later, we’re growing faster than ever.

Enplug, a company that develops intelligent software for digital displays, was serendipitously founded the same way by five strangers. One week after we all met for the first time, we moved into an apartment to live and work together. Two years later, we’ve grown to 35 teammates and moved our office from the house to a shiny building in Los Angeles.


Five Co-founder Love Languages

Rather than taking months to get acquainted, my co-founders for both companies accelerated the process of determining whether to work together through finding these commonalities.

Here are the five most important things to consider when looking for your own co-founders:


  1. Mutual admiration.

    This is an absolute must. Between my co-founders and I, there was always an instant sense of admiration and respect for each other. I was impressed that Balaji was an MIT grad, M.D. and Ph.D., and spoke five languages fluently. He thought it was cool that I had started a few companies in college.

    I felt the same way about my Enplug team’s accomplishments, like David Zhu, who dropped out of college and made seven figures from online poker. We viewed each other as equals. None of us had to beg for the others’ approval.

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