20 Co-founder Vetting Questions

20 Co-founder Vetting Questions

20 Co-founder Vetting Questions



Founding a startup is a bit like setting sail on a stormy sea – the right crew can make it a smooth voyage, but the wrong crew can cast you adrift. Your co-founder is your ultimate shipmate, and finding the one who embodies your vision, work ethic, and complements your skills is no small feat. It’s about more than just shared interests or an impressive resume; it’s about aligning values and ambitions to create a partnership that can weather rough waters and bask in the sunny skies of success.


So, whether you’re about to dive into your first venture, or you’re a seasoned entrepreneur, it’s time to ask the questions that will help secure a co-founder who’s truly ready to raise the anchor. Here are 20 essential co-founder vetting questions, each a compass point to help navigate the complex seas of startup partnerships.


Co-founder Vetting Questions




  1. Why Entrepreneurship?
  • Do they have a genuine passion for building something from the ground up, or are they just enamored with the idea of startup glamour?


  1. What Drives You?
  • Seek to understand their core motivations. Are they driven by money, power, or a cause they genuinely believe in?


  1. Shared Vision or CV Filler?
  • It’s one thing to say you’re aligned on the startup’s vision, but have they demonstrated a commitment to it in their past endeavors?


  1. Risk Appetite
  • How comfortable they are with high levels of uncertainty and the potential for failure can be a make-or-break factor in the partnership.


  1. Work Ethic
  • Will your prospective co-founder be beside you burning the midnight oil, or is a 9-to-5 more their style?


  1. Deal Breakers
  • Are there any red lines in terms of business practices or personal values that they won’t cross?


  1. Temperament and Conflict Resolution
  • Can they keep their cool under immense pressure, and are they open to resolving conflicts constructively?


  1. Deep Dive into Experience
  • Detailed questions about their previous roles, projects, and the highs and lows they’ve experienced can reveal crucial insights into their character.


  1. Skillset Analysis
  • Are their strengths your weaknesses, and vice versa? A co-founder should complement your abilities, not replicate them.


  1. Reputation Matters
  • How do they leave an impression on those they’ve worked with? This can provide illuminating insights into their professionalism and leadership style.


  1. Financial Alignment
  • Ensure you both have the same expectations and strategies for managing finances, including personal sacrifices during the lean startup years.


  1. Network Value
  • Beyond their individual skills, what is the value of their professional network to your startup?


  1. Innovation Focus
  • Are they more inclined towards efficiency and execution, or are they innovation-driven?


  1. Deadlines and Decision Making
  • Do they have a track record of meeting deadlines and making timely, well-informed decisions?


  1. Learning Curve
  • Are they willing to embrace the unknown, continually seek growth, and pivot when necessary?


  1. Cultural Fit
  • A good culture fit doesn’t mean ‘liking the same things’. It’s about shared principles, resilience, flexibility, and adaptability.


  1. Communication Style
  • Open, honest, and unfiltered dialogue is the bedrock of a solid partnership. Can they provide and handle constructive feedback?


  1. Commitment Depth
  • Is this a short-term fling or a long-term commitment? Ensure your timelines match up.


  1. Life Outside the Startup
  • Understanding their personal life and hobbies can provide a 360° view of your potential co-founder, helping you assess their work-life balance.


  1. The Big Why?
  • Why do they specifically want you as a co-founder? This soul-searching question often reveals much about the depth and authenticity of their interest in you, beyond simply your skills.





In Conclusion



It’s not a checklist to be ticked off; it’s a journey of thorough inquiry. Finding a co-founder is like finding a soulmate for your business – and much like in romance, the right partner can elevate you to incredible heights.



Bringing on a co-founder should be done with the same care and consideration as bringing on a life partner. They will be your rock, your soundboard, and your motivation when times get tough. So don’t shy away from the heavy questions – it’s better to have an awkward conversation in a coffee shop than during a standup in your startup’s boardroom.

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