I have a passion for starting businesses. I love taking an idea, with all its unknowns, risks and uncertainties, and embarking on the journey to bring it to fruition. I thrive in uncharted territory, where every move is like a “choose-your-own adventure” that carries the weight of devastating failure or epic success. Where many seek the security of an established company, I flourish in the environment that predicates it; an environment that encourages, if not demands, fluidity, adaptability and spontaneity.
From 2001- 2011, I founded, three tech companies with a high-school friend. They were roller-coaster rides, each consisting of the quintessential highs and lows that follow any startup. They were also sparks, that over time we realized would be better kindled by companies equipped with the talent and capital to take them from early stage to the next level. So with that end-game in mind, all three of our businesses ended in acquisition within three years.
However, when we started our fourth company, we set forth with a desire to see it past the startup phase in order to taste what it was like to run a thriving, capital/revenue flushed company. The issue was that when we arrived there, I realized I had a passion for starting businesses, not for running them. So, when the time was right, I stepped down, allowing those with the drive, skill and desire, take my company to the next level.
Which leads me to today. Throughout my career, I mentored and advised many people who were embarking on their entrepreneurial journeys and in so doing, I noted that a particular theme kept popping up. Consistently I was being asked for advice on how to find the right CoFounder, how to keep the CoFounder partnership strong and how to fix problems that had arisen within. Because I had built four business with the same person, I felt comfortable sharing what had worked for us and what didn’t. I then began to explore this topic even deeper and realized that there was very little in the way of tools for helping business partners navigate this unique yet vital relationship. I came to the conclusion that someone needed to step up and fill in that gap.
And so my journey to assist those in a CoFounder partnership began. I interviewed multiple CoFounders in all stages of business, all kinds of industries, and who came from all walks of life. I learned that many were silently struggling with concerns and issues that couldn’t be brought to light for fear of the backlash from spooked investors, unpredictable employees, uninterested friends/family, and their already fragile partners. I spoke with lawyers, accountants, mediators, venture capitalists, you name it; people who knew and had seen the dark underbelly of the world where partnerships went bad and who mirrored my opinion that the strength of the CoFounder partnership had a direct effect on the strength of a business.
With all this under my belt, The CoFounder’s Handbook was written. The book is a collection of insights, musings, cautions and suggestions that come from not just my experiences but also from those with whom I have interviewed. It is a guide to assist those looking for the right partner, who want to build a strong existing partnership, and those who want to mend issues that may threaten their businesses. The book is a stepping stone for future tools and programs that will aim to foster strong alliances between entrepreneurs on the quest to bring their dreams into reality.