swombat.com

daily articles for founders

How to evaluate a non-technical cofounder  

Nathan Hurst on how to evaluate a non-technical cofounder:

If you're joining someone else's company, the team has to be good enough for you to give up [100 - (your equity share)]% of the company. Let's consider the situation where there is a sole non-technical founder approaching you to be the other member of the founding team. How should you evaluate that person/startup?

The key points to look out for, according to Nathan, are:

  • Traction (measured differently for different kinds of startups);
  • Domain expertise;
  • Marketing ability;
  • Fundraising ability;
  • Product skill;
  • Respect for development;
  • Startup experience;
  • Relevant connections/following.

Really, joining a startup as a cofounder is like being a major investor in that startup. You should use many of the same metrics as any investor (as a bonus, this will teach you how to pitch your startup).

One meta-metric that comes to mind, in addition to this list, is whether or not the startup/founder really needs you to succeed. If the startup needs you specifically in order to have a ghost of a chance, then you're not joining it - it's joining you. And so the negotiations about share percentages should reflect that.

More from the library:
Four pricing principles
Toxic investment
What should you do if an experienced mentor tells you it's a bad idea?