Finding the right co-founder

silicon valley 2

My startup dream team: Four male co-founders and me with no funding.

I have never dreamt of having four male co-founders. It just so happened that way and it has been absolutely amazing.

How did I meet them?

I met my co-founders through a friend, a family introduction, and at a startup event. When I tell people that I didn’t have to pay any developers to build products because I have technical co-founders, people would say “oh! you are SO LUCKY.” I answer nonchalantly, “Yes, surely I am lucky.”

But truth is, I was looking for technical co-founders for three entire years. In the past, although I had full-time jobs, I knew I was interested in the e-commerce sector, and wanted to build something. I taught myself basic skills and finally got to the level where I could understand enough to speak with developers and differentiate between good and bad developers.

As of now, my three years of learning and effort paid off. I met two smart web developers (Cornell CS grad, they were graduate school roommates) and not too long after, I met a kick-ass app developer. (MIT grad, genius iOS guy) I sold them my idea and they became my co-founders.

DearMissJ recently launched its iOS app and website. Last night, I was writing an email to the entire team (now, we have seven people in total). I wrote a long email sharing updates. At the end of the email, I wrote “thank you everyone, I am totally blessed to have you guys around me.” And it hit me, “Wow, I do have so many talented people that believe in me, and I love working with them.” It was the best feeling I had since the moment I finished the incorporation of my company.

When I was the other side of the table (previously, I was working at an M&A and a VC firm) I was always very curious about how the founders met each other rather than their business model, and I wondered, “If I ever start my own company, what kind of people will be my co-founders? Or to be more precise, what kind of people do I WANT as my co-founders.” Now, I’ve realized that finding a right co-founder is like dating and marriage. It is not just a cheesy metaphor.

Here are some reasons why: 1) Dating doesn’t guarantee a marriage. You work on something together and win a hackathon together, but that doesn’t guarantee that you guys will co-found a company together. 2) Love at first sight works, sometimes. One of my co-founders decided to work with me after one dinner meeting. 3) Timing is everything. All of my co-founders were looking for something new before I pitched my idea.

Summing up

I found co-founders by always keeping an eye out. When I found someone I liked, I would aggressively sell them on joining my team. In SF, the top talent developers are always poached by recruiters or they are already working on their own ideas. I had to convince them that I had a cooler idea and that I was the best person to execute the idea. I feel blessed to have talented, hard-working and cool guys as my co-founders. Just like any other married couple, we might fight a lot but I know I picked the right guyS.

*I wrote this post last November. Now, we have a great investor and a nice office. Our founding team members are still together & working harder than ever!

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