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What are the red flags when looking for a co-founder?

Ryan Amin

Jason Greenberg of the Leonard N. Stern School of Business led a co-founder issues discussion with Stephen Cary, Elliot Cohen, Lesa Mitchell, Elizabeth Iorns and Jonathan Bloom at a Life Science Ventures Summit hosted by the Kauffman Foundation(0:12:15-0:21:05).

The first two questions Greenberg asked the group were about how to approach early-on experiences with co-founders:

  • How do you identify, evaluate and "date" potential co-founders?
  • How do you deal with "lost in translation" issues – tech/business or business/tech?

Here are some of the comments made by the panel:

"Too often people make a decision in their head that they are founding a company or not founding a company, and they actually haven't done enough pre-work to decide if they really have cause to believe," said Cohen. "That ends up causing a lot of problems down the road."

"For my technical co-founder – he would often struggle to communicate with me why things are more difficult than what I could envision," said Iorns. "I tried to learn a little bit about how to code, so that I could just have a basic understanding of the technical challenges that were involved with running an actual online marketplace."

"The hard discussions are the ones you should start with, not end with, because you are going to get there sooner or later, so you might as well start sooner," said Mitchell. "Sixty-five percent of founding teams literally fail because of the founding team structure."

Weekly Wisdom from Kauffman is a regular feature on eMed highlighting helpful advice from the Kauffman Foundation.

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