Finding A Co-Founder: Making It A Snap

Thanks to guest blogger Orion Parrott (EMBA ’14), Founder & CEO of Lendsnap 

I founded Lendsnap to solve one of the biggest pain points in buying a new home—the time spent on mortgage loan paperwork.  I’ve applied many of these same principles to one of the most painful and time-consuming parts of founding a company—finding a co-founder.

My initial strategy was to go completely Lean and get as far as I could on my own.  This worked for while, until it didn’t.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve had in-depth, lengthy discussions with 10+ potential co-founders, both from referrals and other sources.  The biggest hurdle I discovered is that while many folks say they want to join a startup, they’re simply not prepared to make the leap.

Another mistake I made was in doing things serially.  Early on, I engaged with one candidate for seven weeks.  He had me draw up agreements, review them with lawyers and negotiate equity.  After getting everything he wanted, he bailed.

After months of frustratingly similar experiences, I discovered AngelList and found my dream co-founder!  This has freed me up to focus on sales and securing funding.  As a direct result of this new activity, we’ve signed our first LOI with a mortgage lender.

I used a similar process for reaching out to folks on both FounderDating (100+) and AngelList (150+).  In my case, I received a higher yield and quality of candidates on AngelList, although I do have respect for FounderDating, especially their community of high level folks and their excellent blog.

Here are some lessons learned for building a founding team or hiring with AngelList:

  • Spend time and effort on creating your personal and company profiles.
  • Post a position or founder description (without equity details), but don’t solely rely on this.  Remember, your goal is to search for the person you want and actively invite them to connect.
  • Click on Recruit, sort by your criteria and click on “Yes, Get Intro”.
  • Follow them for good measure. This also builds your network of followers.
  • Don’t be shy! Remember, it’s a numbers game—I requested an intro to 150+ people and received 60 responses.
  • Create and manage a recruiting pipeline—just like you would for sales prospects.
  • Start with an email to find if they want equity or pay, and if they are available for part time/full time. Then, a phone call before an in-person meeting.  Follow that with two interviews with two different advisors or colleagues that you trust.  Finish with an in-person interview.
  • I found that it’s best to raise the compensation/contract discussion early; however, don’t talk percentages until you know you want them and understand exactly what value they’re bringing to the table.

Of the eight folks I considered as potential co-founders from my AngelList search, most were eliminated quickly as a result of poor fit, chemistry, shared goals, etc.

In addition to finding my co-founder, I’ve also discovered that AngeList is the BEST site for recruiting the rest of the team.

So, whether it’s a developer or dream team you’re searching for, get and keep yourself out there.  Happy hunting!

Find out more about Orion and his team at Lendsnap.com