Entrepreneurship & Silicon Valley

Don’t Marry a Stranger: Pick the right co-founder

October 7, 2020

This is part of a series 7 Lessons To Pick A Co-Founder. This is for the Romantic Comedy addict business owner. Think of it as girls’ night out meets Business 101. It was originally produced as a chapter for a book by Tim Draper and Draper University. Don’t marry a stranger in Las Vegas: Get […]

Don’t Marry a Stranger: Pick the right co-founder
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Angie Carrillo

Entrepreneur, advisor, and futurist. Host of Going Forward Podcast and creator of Forward, Inc. I'm a business coach for visionaries, ambitious women and movers & shakers.

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This is part of a series 7 Lessons To Pick A Co-Founder. This is for the Romantic Comedy addict business owner.

Think of it as girls’ night out meets Business 101.

It was originally produced as a chapter for a book by Tim Draper and Draper University.

Las Vegas Co-founder
Photo by Snapwire from Pexels.

Don’t marry a stranger in Las Vegas: Get the right co-founder

Imagine going to Las Vegas, meeting a stranger that worked in tech, having dinner, and then heading off to the Elvis Presley Wedding Chapel.

While you listen to “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” sung by the pastor dressed up like Elvis… you both say, “I do”, and live happily ever after…


You wouldn’t do this in real life, so why would you become business partners with someone you just met?

I know what you are thinking: you are the hero of the movie, the exception… or perhaps brainwashed by podcasts, and blogs that only showed you the fun side of startups.

I have seen entrepreneurs all over the world quickly becoming business partners without knowing each other.

People in social media groups posting that are looking for a technical cofounder or asking anyone at events or hack-a-thons.

Or even at incubators asking after a week or two if they wanted to be cofounders.

And even when I knew about this…

I did it.
And It took a while to recover from the hangover.

Confusing Summer Flings With “The One”

I quickly became co-founders with people I didn’t know and approached it as the real thing when it was indeed a summer fling.

I met two guys over a summer and thought that by living together and hanging out all day it would speed up things. As if there was a way to speed up knowing someone.

I put my brand, my network, my reputation that took years to build. I put up hundreds of hours of working for free; I stopped all my other projects only to realize months after that we weren’t a match.

And just like that, I was back at square one.

My advice? Date before you marry your co-founder.

Date, date, date

By dating, I don’t mean romantic involvement with your business partner. Dating can be a project you work on, an event you plan, having uncomfortable conversations, splitting bills.

Pay attention to the small things: Do they tip? How do they treat the waiter? Are they cheap? Do you enjoy their company? Their ideas?

When you are building a venture, your co-founders become the people you see, talk to, and exchange ideas every day. Your co-founder becomes your business wife or husband.

Their thoughts become your thoughts. The ideas become actions and actions become your reality. Be very intentional in what reality you want to create for yourself and be with the right people.

The Honeymoon Phase

Oh, the love! In this honeymoon phase, dopamine and serotonin are infusing all your body and it’s best not to trust your biology, but trust the patterns.

When you first meet someone, everything seems perfect, they exhibit all the right qualities and say all the right things. Or maybe is our brain tricking us to believe that.

In this stage, you wonder if they are “the one”. Time is important because everyone can show their best part of themselves for a while. But with time we all let our guard down and let our true colors come out.

It’s not until your first disagreement, the first fight, the first disappointment that you know them well. Then you can work things out and keep on growing or not.

In my story, it wasn’t until the first investment came in that I got to know them well. Not that their mindset changed. But when dealing with money, people’s fears, beliefs, and egos come out.

Do you love your co-founder or love “the idea” of having a partner?

Until you recognize their good qualities but also acknowledge the things you don’t like about them. The things that they need to work on, their lack of expertise that you can say you know someone.

Because, let’s be honest, no one is perfect. It’s not until you recognize that side of your potential partner that you know them and accept them as they are. Hopefully, the good things outweigh the bad, and you can start a long-term relationship.

Society has taught us to think very well before signing one contract: marriage. However, when it comes to business, we rarely apply the same terms.

We confuse one-night stands with long-term love.
Doing business with someone you don’t know is like rushing into a relationship and ending up in a marriage with bad sex. Not good.

If you like this article, don’t miss the Lesson 2: The Single’s Dilemma.

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