Founding with Friends, Founding with Strangers?

Is it better to start a company with someone you know well (friends, classmates, family members) or with strangers?

In my next post, I’ll return to “Rich versus King” and show some data, results, and charts that shed light on the phenomenon. For this post, though, I want to take a brief detour to explore a different issue. (At the same time, the issue is related to scenario #1 in the “Rich versus King” post. Or maybe I’m just seeing R-vs.-K tradeoffs everywhere I look these days!)

On Wednesday night, I moderated a Founders panel for the Boston chapter of TiE. Co-founder lessons ended up being a hot topic of discussion among the panelists. The topic is related to an upcoming research project of mine (see below), so I figured the timing was good to start getting some input on the project here, with the TiE discussion providing additional input and impetus.

As was the case for all four of the panelists, people often find co-founders among their friends and co-workers. For instance, in my “Ockham” case, the three co-founders worked together at a sales consulting firm before deciding to start Ockham Technologies together. (Even more extreme, in three other cases we teach, spouses worked together to either found, or take over and run, ventures.) Broadly speaking, we can call this the “founding with friends” situation.

In contrast, in our “Zipcar” case (and for at least one of the TiE panelists), the founders had never worked together or even interacted on a sustained/substantive level. (Call this the “founding with strangers” situation.) At Wednesday’s panel, the TiE panelist (who has founded multiple ventures) argued that his all-business relationship with a “relative stranger” co-founder was more effective than his friendship-based relationships with other co-founders, specifically because their relationship was “all business.”

Merging his comments with my own observations about the issue, reasons to “found with strangers” include:

  • A more diverse set of perspectives than if the founders have similar backgrounds. This might lead to richer discussions about business model options, strategic decisions, etc. In a related vein, it might yield a more diverse set of contacts, rather than having the overlapping networks that co-workers, friends, and families often have.
  • Clearer motivations (the core element highlighted by the TiE panelist during the discussion, and one echoed by two panelists after it). Emotion doesn’t cloud or slow down business decisions, in contrast to Founder-CEOs who might be hesitant to do what’s right for the company if it means their best friend will be fired. (Or, in the extreme, the “fire my husband?!” scenario.)

Reasons to be hesitant about founding with strangers often include:

  • You still have to figure out each other‘s strengths and weaknesses (“are we still missing important skills?”), working styles (“he’s a morning person, I’m the midnight type”), values (“wait — we can’t both be King!”), etc., on top of having to do everything else that goes into starting a venture.
  • You’re trying to build cohesiveness and trust at the same time as you’re wrangling over equity splits and what roles you’ll play. (Returning to the cases above, the Zipcar/strangers and Ockham/friends founders seemed to diverge markedly regarding this.)

I’d love to hear about your experiences (observations, stories — if sensitive, feel free to strip out any identifying info) with the pros and cons of each situation. How does founding with strangers or friends affect:

  • The team’s ability to work together to solve tough early issues?
  • The Founder-CEO’s ability to make objective decisions about staffing?
  • The team’s ability to split the initial equity effectively between the co-founders?
  • The team’s stability over time, and the company’s overall ability to grow?
  • Other key aspects of the business?

Most important, why does it have this effect?

(There’s an immediate, practical use for this: Your input will help me refine or augment some co-founder questions I added last year to my annual start-up surveys. Once I have this year’s survey data, I should be able to make some definitive statements about how founder relationships affect their ventures … to be featured in a blog post here, of course. So if you’ve been wondering about any other aspect of this issue, highlight it in your comment(s) and I’ll try to get data about it!)

Posted in co-founders
43 comments on “Founding with Friends, Founding with Strangers?
  1. Paul McManus says:

    In my opinion, those who found companies with friends will: a) lose the company, b) lose their firnds, or c) lose both. I strorngly advise agianst it and shy away from deals where the teams are too tightly knit to on the personal side. Blood (family relationships) is almost always a show stopper.I’m teaching the Ockham case Tuesday night, wish me luck!

  2. Amir Goldman says:

    I’m a big fan of founder teams that know each other and have worked together in the past. It’s true that it potentially creates conflict down the road when hard decisions might have to be made about cutting one of the founders loose. But I think that is vastly outweighed by knowing your partners’ dispositions and working habits, and most importantly, really understanding their capabilities. Friendship can be helpful especially during the vicissitudes of being a start-up, but I think that is less relevant than shared experiences. It’s just another risk mitigator from my perspective (ie, lower probability of the founding team “blowing up” when things get tough).

  3. Games Vendors Play says:

    I have to say, a good question. I have never founded with strangers, however, I have founded 2 times with friends. The first one didn’t go so well (including the friendship). The second one is going better, however..I will most certainly continue to read this blog. As an entrepreneur I am always looking for support and knowledge. thank you

  4. Anonymous says:

    Part of depends on where the money is coming from. If the money is from your friends or family, you stick with it even as the company is going through the valley of death, because the money at stake belongs to people that you care about.

  5. Wash0088 says:

    Definitely an excellent question that can spark so many emotional responses as well as solid debate. I have only worked with people I already knew, so I can only speak on that experience. To me, the largest benefit is the fact that the people I am working with are on the same wavelength as me. In other words, we have many of the same motivations, ideals, and morals. To me this is very important, especially at the onset. I do agree with the potential danger caused by the relationship down the road (e.g. changing equity structure or who has the most say in tough decisions.)

  6. Frequent Flyer says:

    Just my unscientific observation-i have seen several startups where star salespeople figure they can use their experience to build a successful company while pocketing an increased share of the profit. At first, sales take off, and the friendship continues. Down the road, they find out their best friends all share the same business skills and-unfortuantely-the same weaknesses. Sales are great, but other areas such as managing inventory or supply chain, or personnel issues necessarily suffer. Another potential pitfall of friends as founders is an inherent lack of any structure to modify or terminate partnerships if the good feelings, which brought the parties together in the first place, deteriorate

  7. Mike says:

    I had just finished posting to my own blog and this came up, courtesy of Blogger. Once I read your post I couldn’t help but reply.My experience is as one of six founders of a software company, formed in 1979. The six of us were technicians (programmers) who had worked together for a reasonably sized company for a minimum of 4 to a maximum of 12 years. We were all instrumental in the design and development of a significant mainframe based software system.Once the system was developed we were assigned to support the system while new blood was brought into the company to populate key management positions - our view was we had sweat blood for 3 years during the development and now others were reaping the benefit. Pretty typical story, except that we believed we could do better and so we split off and started our own concern.This new company was very successful and had an 11 year run but was ultimately sued out of existence by a competitor - I now work for that competitor, fyi. Small world.In either regard, we started our company with a well defined set of goals. We did deliver to those goals, one of the reasons we were sued (a long story).One of the eye openers was that once “we” controlled a revenue stream alliances were formed to attempt to make the slices of the pie a bit less than equal. Another eye opener was the weakness of some of the founders. One of the six couldn’t make a major decision and spent time agonizing over the brand of paper clips we should use.But to your points:Q. The team’s ability to work together to solve tough early issues?A. With the exception of the one weak founder we were able to work through some very tough issues, including a lawsuit that hit in the first six months. We were really able, drawing on prior relationships, to deal effectively and as a team with some serious issues.Q. The Founder-CEO’s ability to make objective decisions about staffing?A. Our early staffing decisions were for technical personnel and he as well as the rest of us were able to make very objective decisions as regards staffing. As a matter of fact, since we spilt off of a pretty strong software company that we’d all worked for, for a significant amount of time - we had left a lot of friends behind and wouldn;’t consider taking them on. That was because manyof our firends, some very close, were not of the caliber we needed. Our goal was to build a strong company and we didn’t think we could do so by simply bringing in friends.Q. The team’s ability to split the initial equity effectively between the co-founders? A. Was’t a problem. The problem came later when we had a significant income stream with minimal expenses, different alliances were formed to control the split of avaiilable cash.Q. The team’s stability over time, and the company’s overall ability to grow?A. Again, we only had one weak founder so our stability was amazing - common goals for most.Other key aspects of the business?Other - we really were so successful at what we did that our major competitor had to sue us because we ultimately developed a competitive product that they couldn’t touch. We went head to head on a sale (just as we were finishing the product) and beat our competitior, the same company we had spun off from. At the same time we had an infusion of cash, venture money, which was more than enough to take us to the next level. The suit hit the next day.

  8. R2K says:

    Welcome to the front page.I personally find that it is a double edged sword. While working with loved ones, family, or friends can allow for better communication, and more trust (they probably want you to do well as well as want the best for their own future).But when there are conflicts, it is hard to leave them in the office. It becomes personal, and the other edge of the sword can cut in. I would say, it depends on you, and who you know, and how you think you can work as a team.< HREF="" REL="nofollow">R2K..<>< HREF="" REL="nofollow">Bathrooms..<>< HREF="" REL="nofollow">Rocketry<>

  9. Julia says:

    I don’t mix friendship and business anymore. It’s turned out very uncomfortable in the past. It’s very hard to maintain a friendship after the business relationship turns sour. I wouldn’t found with a friend unless I had worked with them in the past for at least a year in a business situation.

  10. Rand Peck says:

    I started a commuter airline with a friend in 1982…it was a disaster. I’m not sure that the company’s fate would have been any different, but the friendship aspect surely made day to day operations much more difficult. Both ended poorly.

  11. Noam says:

    Thanks for the multi-startup view, Yankee Ent — interesting evolution. Two follow-up questions:1. You note at each step how many founders didn’t make it, but not the reasons why. Could you describe the core things that separated them from the founders that “made it”? (In a related vein, were they things you could have anticipated in advance — e.g., when assembling the founding team?)2. Just noticed on your own blog that you say, “Do not hire friends, friends of friends or associates from previous jobs until they have been thoroughly vetted and compared with outside candidates.” What problems have you seen arise in this area?

  12. Peter Matthews says:

    Dear Noam,I like this kind of anthropological approach to business issues. In my own case, I am trying to establish a “Research Cooperative” in which we is me, the founder, hoping here that somehow the vacant spaces will be filled by self-motivated people who happen to see and like what I am trying to do. I do not have the resources to head hunt for what is essentially a pocket-money, NPO enterprise (despite what I think are global implications for research and intellectual endeavour).So - in answer to your question, (1) the kind of business must also determine whether a friends or strangers approach is best, and (2) is it best to actively seek cofounders, or is it better to let them find you? There many ways to select or be selected. Active, passive, semi-active, semi-passive selection…? Incentives? Non-verbal signals? Has anyone invented a digital handshake, with all the biochemistry that is involved somehow replicated?!Best regards, Peter

  13. Click here to see Tornado Pictures says:

    It depends on the friends. It depends on the strangers. How big of a business are you starting? What kind? Are you the boss of your friend or a part of an equal team? Will your friend listen to you as a boss or will the friend ship make him unable to submit to leadership like a non-friend boss? Will you go easy on him or will he go easy on you because of your friendship to the down fall of the business or do you have an open relationship when you can point out each others faults?Proverbs 29:21 “If a man pampers his servant from youth, he will bring grief in the end.”If you pamper an employee because he is your friend, you will bring greif to yourself when he will not follow direction.

  14. CelMaTTos says:

    I guees it can be more confortable to found companies with friends. You have to be honest and make everything clear since the first conversation, a heart-to-heart. I would say you both will want the best for your companies and it just depends on you.In my opinion, it can be perfect with friends.You just have watch for money don’t become your enemy.I would love to be partner with some friend. Who knows someday? Best regards, Celeste.

  15. Yankee Ent says:

    Survival of the founder is a phenomenon that occurs when going serially through startups. I have started four companies thus far (none overly successful, but paying the bills). From these four startups there are a total of 8 different founders.Company 1 was founded by myself and a college roomate. This was a part time company that made some money but ended after a few years. We are no longer in touch but not because of the company. Result: 1 founder down, 1 still standing.Company 2 was founded by myself, my brother, a college friend and a grad school friend. This company lasted several years, was venture funded and made several million. Regarding family members as founders, it’s good to have someone you trust absolutely. The college friend founder didn’t survive this startup. Result: 1 founder down, 3 still standing.Company 3 was founded by myself, my brother, the same grad school friend, the finance guy, the CEO and the sales guy from company 2. This company is moderately successful, marginally profitable and still going. However, we have lost 3 founders along the way. Result 3 founders down, 3 still standing.Company 4 is currently in the works and has myself, my brother and the finance guy from company 2&3. We may bring in one or two outside people to complete the mix. The previous startups have been a good weed-out process for founders.

  16. Yankee Ent says:

    There were many factors that contributed to our founders not making it through a startup or on to the next one. I will document these often humorous details over time in the yankeeent blog. To summarize… The biggest factor for losing founders was their inability to stomach the ups and downs of startup life. This doesn’t make them bad people, they just got tired of the long hours without rewards and the occasional missed paycheck. Also, the lack of direction and management can be a problem for some people. In other words the ability to go on auto-pilot and let your boss worry about big picture stuff is not an option for a founder. There were also one or two founders that just didn’t cut it and had to be exited.Regarding the hiring of friends and associates after the founding (a common practice in a small startup due to lack of recruiting resources), we have had a horrible string of luck.The analysis of our recruiting history over the years showed that friends and associates were hired with some due diligence but not nearly as much as an “unknown”. Most of these people did not work out. There were also a few instances were friends were hired, as a favor, for a position that didn’t need to be filled. That’s a guaranteed disaster. In a startup you need highly motivated people who don’t need constant direction and who bring much more than the job requirements. In an average group of friends and associates there may be 1 in 10 people that fit this description. So the chance that a candidate from this group will succeed is small. Of course there are exceptions…

  17. yankee ent says:

    Now to answer your questions…Anticipating the success or failure of a founder is difficult. However, the one factor I would look for is lifestyle. Look for people that lead simple, frugal lives (unless they made 300M in a previous startup). This rule doesn’t always apply, especially with sales people, but can indicate a persons ability to weather the initial storm.There was one distinct problem with friends and associates that we hired outside our full vetting process. They usually couldn’t work without direction and management. Therefore, their roles became very small and confined to either something they liked or something in their experience. In a startup where there aren’t established systems and procedures, everyone has a huge role and must be able to adapt outside of their experience.

  18. Noam says:

    Found this blog-post (at that adds some thoughts…<>INTERESTING POST FOR STARTUP FOUNDERS<><>Friends and Strangers? - or Fiends and Stranglers?<>This is < HREF="" REL="nofollow">an interesting post from Noam Wasserman<>, a professor in the Entrepreneurial Management unit at Harvard Business School, about founding startups with friends or strangers. In my experience, I think the main issues are <>trust<> and <>passion<> - along with invaluable abilities. With those two things in place, you can take alot on the chin from colleagues. You trust them and they’re passionate. Any rifts will resolve without explosions. Hopefully everyone is passionate. Be error tolerant too. We ALL make mistakes. Someone needs to tap their finger on the table to get attention or decorum if it’s needed and everyone needs to respect that, without worrying about who’s < HREF="" REL="nofollow">‘King’<>. :)

  19. Anonymous says:

    I am currently in a situation where myself and two of my college friends are invested into a business we came up with. As it stands right now, my personal feeling is that it will go sour soon. The ability to divide workloads is tough especially when we all have the same talents.The ability to stay openminded about eachothers work and what will be best for the client, has been a frustrating one. A lot of butting heads as to “which one is better” or “i feel mine is better then yours” (this last one isn’t openly said BUT we all know it is there by our critques.I feel that this business would be beter sutied if we each had our own strong talents. Becuase we would all know what needs to be done and we wouldlleave the other jobs for the person to complete.As for decisions, we make them collectively BUT that has its problems when I feel that they should be done by one person.I also have noticed that we are all trying to jockey for the leader role.Also when there are times that all 3 of cannot meet with a client, the one person that does meet the client ends up taking the responsibilty role for making the client’s needs happen. While the other 2 don’t take the responsibilty as much.There is also the problem of “common goal” We each have a different opinion on where we want the company to go and how long it would take us to get there.All in all it really hasn’t been that great. SOemtimes it has its ups but overall working with friends is not a good situation. I feel that our friendships will be strained and possibly end in a matter of time. And we have only been in business for 1.5 years.Lots of potential business wise but nothing more then that.

  20. Noam says:

    Very insightful post, “Anonymous” — thanks for detailing both the core issues you’ve faced and your perspective on the reasons behind them. Love to hear more (if possible via blog-posts, but if you prefer, via email) as your venture continues to evolve; best of luck with it and with your co-founders!

  21. Paul McManus says:

    In discussing the friends/stranger/founder topic it’s important to make the distinction in the relationships between “friends”, “and “strangers”, and also include a third category of relationships that I call “co-workers”. Where, friends are people that are “favored companions” of one another. Strangers are people not previously known to one another. Coworkers are people associated in common action with another, in pairs or a team. Coworkers can develop friendships over time, but it is not necessary for their success as a team. The are many, many other factors that come into play but as an investor, I believe the ideal (lowest risk) founding team is a team made up of former coworkers. By working together in the past, these teams have developed and worked out critical professional/interpersonal relationships that will be critical to their success and, most importantly, have proven they can work together and get things done. The next most favored team is the team of strangers. The risk one takes on here is that while each member may be an all-star in their roles, they have no demonstrated track of success in working together. The least favored founding team is made up of people who were friends first, then decided to get into business together. This is most often a train wreck looking for a place to happen and therefore should be avoided whenever possible. (Rent the movie “” if you want to watch what happens right before your eyes.) Finally, one should never invest in deals with blood on the founding team, particularly sibling blood. Now, there are always exceptions to every rule, and these rules may not apply in very industry, but if you’re a vc, particularly with a larger institutional fund, they’re a good starting point.

  22. Raine Devries says:

    I would be very hesitant to found with someone that I didn’t know extremely well.I co-owned a tech company that had 15 employees and worked on projects for entities like the NFL & State of Texas. My business partner was stressful enough and that was KNOWING him before getting involved. The main challenge were our radically different management styles and approach to money — I was thinking of payroll in 90 days and he was living for the moment. Plus I was the only female and someone I found myself in the role of “bad cop” which was not fun. Upon deciding that I hated tech and selling the company I am happily working on building yet another company but this time in the media field.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I would not found with close friends, or hire family. After founding a software company with a friend who went and hired his family, my first hand experience is that the dynamics of friendships, and worse, family in a company can really create some miserable situations for people who are not part of the family power clique.I think you’re much better off founding with and hiring strangers, they’re easier to part with, easier to be “all business” with, and whether you like it or not will bring a lot more diversity to the company than family and friends. Make sure your company is strong at bringing new people in, even if short lived, they will teach you a lot that your stalwarts wont.<>The team's ability to work together to solve tough early issues?<>Working together, is, well, work, and in a start-up, there is so much work that you will trust friends to make the right decision with less of your input. This may make things easier in start-up mode, but in the long run you will regret not questioning your founder friend decisions.<>The Founder-CEO's ability to make objective decisions about staffing?<>See previous question. I made the mistake of trusting my founder friend to hire the right people for operatings. He oversold his family members abilities and I ended up in a company with people that are virtually impossible to fire and get paid far more than their skill set is worth. They also don’t want anyone rocking the boat for them.<>The team's ability to split the initial equity effectively between the co-founders?<>My founder friend wanted to be equal equity with me as he felt he had a similar skill set (too similar!), even though I was bringing more of an investment to the table. I made the mistake of accepting cash instead of equity for my larger contribution to the start-up. If you think you are worth more equity than you’re getting, do not sacrifice it!<>The team's stability over time, and the company's overall ability to grow?<>A founding friend relationship can have too much stability, not enough change to grow the company, or to grow with the company. The psychology of a family unit can really create an impasse in the growth of a company. Friendships can to a lesser degree as people try to balance being nice and being business.Great blog, good reading as I dump my current company and set out to start a new one!

  24. Dick Costolo says:

    I would only found with friends. FeedBurner is the fourth company I’ve founded with friends and there is one huge unsung benefit: the unspoken language we’ve developed after working together on three startups over the last 11 years allow us to move extremely fast, with incredible openness and honesty, and no hidden agendas. Everybody has a sense of what the other people really want out of the company. Everybody knows how the roles will play out as the team expands, everybody understands individual strengths and weaknesses. The one BIG issue about founding with friends for us comes in when we start building out the team. Early employees can be shocked by the brutal openness and the less than courteous exchanges between people who’ve worked together for eleven years, and you have to manage the introduction of these people with clear messages such as “if we start annoying you with verbal shorthand, just remind us that we’re not the only people here anymore and to please elaborate”, etc. The final great benefit of founding with friends is that there are always ALWAYS points in the startup’s life when things are going very very badly, and the stress can be unbearable. Knowing the other people in the boat with you can be very helpful in navigating the rough waters (to extend the metaphor!)

  25. says:

    Very interesting blog…Friends rock and roll on yah!

  26. hiphopentrepreneur says:

    I am currently in the planning stages of a tech start up with 2 friends from College and an associate (friend of a friend). This blog has helped give me something to think about because we are currently working out positions in the company and responsibilities…we know each others strengths and weaknesses, but we haven’t yet solidified a business making structure…my question is….Can you really have more than 1 CEO? We all have important product ideas that are a major part of the business so who should reign supreme? If the individual investments aren’t equal, how do we decide equity? Suggestions?

  27. Sridhar Krishnan says:

    Founders are people with passion, trust and expertise who share a common goal of making the company successful. Founders should have worked with each other before so that they understand the chemistry of the group. They’ll have to understand that there may be ups and downs. They should know to deal with it. In theory, the skill set of founders should be complimentary but in reality like-minded people may end from same background.I think the above criteria is critical. Back to your debate, Friends is okay, if they’re professional friends and ready to contribute full-time. Strangers - tough to get the chemistry going. Good blog. Keep it up.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Hi Noam,I’m a would-be entrepreneur from India and this blog is just what I’ve been looking for while I work on my plan. Being in start-up mode means that one cannot do without help from relatives and friends and the potential downsides have worried me a bit.Unfortunately I cannot contribute to this topic just yet, but I hope to take away a LOT of useful thoughts and ideas.Thanks and wish you the best. Am definitely making this part of my regular reading!Regards,Amit

  29. Anonymous says:

    I recently began planning for a company with a friend of mine.The plusses are,1) we already know each other’s subtle ways,2) we have a rather dynamic chemistry,3) our skillsets complement each other well, and4) it’s a great concept - since our first conversation, opportunities to grow this have been flying at us from every direction, seeming to come from thin air.My frustrations are…1) We’re both inexperienced. I’ve created an S-corp and a C-corp for fun, but nothing large-scale. My partner has a little less business experience than me. We’re both very smart, but green.2) Our motivations seem to be at different levels. I have nothing to lose and 16 hours per day to spare, and my vision is a multi-hundreds-of-millions-per-year worldwide operation. My partner has family responsibilities (and therefore limited time) and I don’t know my partner’s volume or scope ambitions.3) My partner, who came up with the idea, controls 51% of the company, based on an early conversation we held. However, I am providing the initial funding, and have done most of the work as of late, and feel a 50-50 split is plenty fair.4) Communication to resolve #2 & #3 has been difficult, and if we’re having communication troubles ALREADY………I sometimes feel that if I continue to push to make this business work, unless my partner begins to match my energy, and soon, then both the business and friendship will be over. If I walk away, I may lose my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to kickstart an effort that will really make a difference in transforming this planet…as well as lose what has been a valued friendship.This story is still in development…

  30. starbender says:

    Father of 7? God Bless You!I’m a Mother of only 5.<><>I can just imagine!<><>Where do U find time to blog?<>:)<>

  31. Samer says:

    While it may be ideal in theory, mixing business with family/friends will always be plagued with potential problems. But for those who can manage it, I’m sure the benefits are endless.

  32. Kamara says:

    I’m in a business where the most successful people are building their businesses with people who they have long term relationships with. It’s a help-me-help-you type of business and one gentleman and his wife have connected with nearly 200,000 people in under three years. Relationships are powerful and the exact same phenomenon is helping me right now.

  33. Eric M. Strauss says:

    Very interesting course of study. Thank you for sharing.

  34. Nick says:

    I enjoyed reading your in-depth study, keep up the great work. I also commented on my own blog using some information from your’se.Nicholas

  35. Noam says:

    Ah, the good old “Mission Impossible” approach: re-assemble the team to take on the next big challenge / opportunity / venture. :->

  36. Tim Connors says:

    depends on how much you value your “friends” vs the business opportunity. most businesses fail and having friendships survive through failure is sometimes difficult. truly great friends don’t come along as often as business opportunities.The best situation I’ve seen is founder teams who have worked together in the past in relevant companies to newco. Here the “friendships” developed out of mutual admiration for their commitment/capabilities/expertise/etc. This established mutual trust allows founders to know how each other thinks and works so the cultural fit question is taken off the table up front. This scenario answers positively many of your core questions.Multiple founders from the same family are fraught with peril. I would question whether the two perfect cofounders for a business could really come from the same family, or was it convenience that the two came together. I’ve heard some successes here, but if you think having a friendship fail out of business failure, imagine the implications if this is family as you only have one of those.

  37. Anonymous says:

    One point that wasn’t addressed concerns first time entrepreneurs. Few people have the personality to make it as a successful entrepreneur. It’s difficult to judge whether even yourself, much less a coworker/friend, will actually be happy in the stressful, uncertain, unstructured environment of a startup without actually having founded a company before. The glamour of doing a startup can blind people to aspects of their personality which don’t bode well for success in a startup environment. Instead of critical self-evaluation, they jump on board of an exciting idea by a group of friends and coworkers. Unfortunately, everyone on a founding team has to be pulling 110% of their weight, and when certain adverse basic personality traits surface, as they inevitably will, it can become a serious problem. This is less likely to happen when founding with a relative stranger in my opinion. We trust our friends too much at times, but founding with a stranger will force a person to critically assess both the idea behind the startup and what their own personal role will be. The startup will be viewed not so much as an exciting fun project with a bunch of old coworkers and friends, but as a business proposal with significant career risks.I am currently founding a startup with a coworker/friend. The experience is proving to be a very difficult one. Despite a promising start for the company, my cofounder is paralyzed with angst most days. It’s clear he’s not an entrepreneur at heart. Pride and embarrassment keep him going, but the wear is showing. I think it’s far easier to admit that you just aren’t hacking it and should leave when relative strangers are involved.

  38. Anonymous says:

    So, where do you find those additional founders to start your new venture?Paul Buchheit, former employee (#23) at Google and creator of Gmail, shares in a recent post an interesting way to meet potential co-founders: through other start-ups!See post here: < HREF="" REL="nofollow"><>Sure, attending industry conferences and panels can be rewarding in terms of gathering new contacts. But do you really have time to find quality people that could be potential co-founders in just a few hours or days? That’s another story.Following this logic, Paul argues that participating in a start-up may have certain advantages:1) Higher likelihood of meeting like-minded people with similar specific industry focus 2) Better targeting in terms of people actually ready to join start-ups (not attached to a high-paying corporate job elsewhere). Plus, you avoid problems like those cited by Yankee Ent in a previous post: “The biggest factor for losing founders was their inability to stomach the ups and downs of startup life.”3) Great way to learn and test out the real “start-up life” to see if you prefer a more unstructured environment.4) Ability to get paid by someone else while you network and learn about start-up and the specific industry. 5) More time to learn about your potential co-founders in project-mode (see how they operate and how complementary they are to your own skillset), and possibly more time for these “strangers” to become “friends”…Far from joining a start-up only to eventually poach its employees, this can be unique chance for the entrepreneur to learn about life in a start-up without all the risk.If the startup takes off, you profit from the growth. If it fails, you’ve learned valuable lessons and are ready to move to something else.Personally, I think Paul is on to something. With all the talent out there in young start-ups (who typically attract bright and entrepreneurial candidates), and with the high mortality rate of start-ups in some sectors, it’s very easy to see how the turnover of people and companies can prove a fertile space for budding entrepreneurs.I’d be interested in hearing more about this possibility, if ever someone went down this route…

  39. Anonymous says:

    <>Co-founders India Web Content Business<>I have many new ideas and looking for dedicated co-founders in web business who could help me go through these ideas, i am based in jalandhar, punjab, india. i have personal industrial family background for over 65 years (before independence). moreover, i am thinking registering my company in U.S as inc. or LLC. Preferably aged between 18-22. If interested contact [email protected]Moreover, i want funds for startup how to get funding external not from family.

  40. premblogger says:

    Anyone must be submissive, but not too fragile. I have worked on two small-scale experimental ventures with my professional friend. So far, we have met a few controversies and I could feel that he submits after discussions.As everybody commenting on this item say, its a tough job to maintain both friendship and partnership. But, that is quite possible if assertive communication prevails among the founders, atleast with one of the founders.This could even root to the nuclear family structure which was upheld in India until recent years. There were 20-40 persons in a family in a single house and they managed to be happy with occassional collissions. That is just because they communicated any issues as and when they arose, without hesitation.After all business can be rebuilt, but human bonds cannot be. This may sound sensitive but not the fact. I just advocate about assertive communication among founder-cum-friends.

  41. DanPrater says:

    Noam, until reading your post I hesitated letting it be known that I am searching for co-founders on CraigsList. I have almost found a few this way. They all fell through for different reasons. Usually it's the no paycheck thing - I think it's common to perceive CL mostly as a place to find a job, as well as contradicting of our belief that successful companies are founded by friends.

    Noam, I'm really enjoying reading your research. I'm so very glad I found your site.


  42. frontline plus says:


    I always thought that friends and business must be tight. like money and friends. this can bring many problems that exist in advance a relationship of friendship that uncomfortable in the business.

    Bailey M. Doherty

  43. Rob Benwell says:

    Friendship can be helpful especially during the vicissitudes of being a start-up, but I think that is less relevant than shared experiences. It's just another risk mitigator from my perspective (ie, lower probability of the founding team “blowing up” when things get tough).

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