Image by laurenfarmer via Flickr
“We’d like you to come on board as a founder.” After the first few seconds of excitement and dare I say, exhilaration, reality sets in. “Can you explain to me what being a founder means?” Does being a founder mean, like a parent, being present when conceived? And will it seem much like a parent, largely thankless, picking up things behind your offspring and acting as a source of funding for them? Sure you feel good about that first finger-painting up on the refrigerator, or the #1 Dad doodad on your office wall. But when you are up mopping their vomit or worse and staying up all night hoping the fever will subside is it worth the trouble?
My answer is a resounding yes!
And its always better to found a company with others than by yourself. With that said, it’s worth keeping in mind, your co-founders are likely where you will get grief when you least expect it. In almost every startup I have been part of, founders falling by the wayside has been a feature. Before you conclude the problem was me, I am in good company. When Paul Graham spoke at the recent Startup School 09 – he pointed that all the entrepreneurs he spoke to felt picking the right (or rather not picking the wrong) co-founder was the most important lesson they learned.
The toughest lessons I learnt about co-founders, was there can be so many unstated expectations, particularly when it comes to issues around your own evolving roles. Founder, partner, core team member, executive management – words that initially are used interchangeably and seem just so many words. Yet they have so many different meanings and nuances, as I learnt the hard way. Having been a part of five start ups, two as founder and three as early-to-late senior staff or management member, I have been at all ends of this expectation spectrum.
I’ve loved being a founder and will share the ways I have found to deal with the finding, keeping and savouring co-founders in my upcoming post. Share with me your experience with being a founder, what it meant to you and why you would or wouldn’t do it again!