Syllabus

The Holloway Syllabus on Finding a Co-Founder

90+ resources you need to learn the ins and outs of finding a co-founder.
Haley S. Anderson
▪︎ 13 minutes read time
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This post is part of The Holloway Syllabus series. We’ll publish new Holloway Syllabi twice a month, and you can read and search the contents of all of them in one place in The Holloway Modern Work Library. To create this Holloway Syllabus, we put in more than 30 hours of research to pull together and vet great resources. We believe this is the most comprehensive and authoritative list (over 90 resources!) to help you master the ins and outs of finding a startup co-founder.

Introduction1 links

Ideas can pivot and evolve as they grow, funding can always be found somewhere else, the market will always change with a never-ending supply of competitors. But the team that brings it all together forms the company’s DNA.Jonathan Chan, “The Ultimate Guide To Creating The Perfect Founding Team”*

Spoiler alert: Founding a company is demanding. You need not only the idea but an enormous range of skills to turn it into something real. Creating a successful startup requires almost unimaginable amounts of time. It demands drive and grit. It certainly causes stress, sometimes outright depression, and it can take a toll on your personal relationships. Do you really want to do it alone?

For many, the answer is working with a co-founder. A co-founder can lessen the burden in many ways, but this arrangement has its own challenges. What makes someone the right person? Where do you find them? How many co-founders should you even have? When you’ve found your person, what details do you need to agree on? How do you avoid nasty disputes down the road? Should you have a co-founder at all? Read on for answers to these questions and more.

Co-Founding Overview5 links

If you don’t read (or watch) anything else on the topic, take a look at these.

Are You Ready to Found a Startup?6 links

Exercises for answering the question

What it takes

Do You Need a Co-Founder?12 links

Not necessarily

Co-founder pros

Co-founder cons

How Many Co-Founders Do You Need?4 links

Choosing the Right Co-Founder19 links

General advice

Shared values and complementary skills

Specialization

For non-technical founders

For technical founders

The Logistics of Finding a Co-Founder4 links

Key Conversations11 links

How do you split equity?

Paperwork6 links

contribute Beyond the Usual Suspects

Many of the resources in this section were written by people from a similar privileged background. The challenges of finding a co-founder may be very different for people who face additional barriers, particularly those who have been historically barred access to certain networks. We are actively seeking to publish more perspectives on this topic; if you’d like to talk please reach out. And if we’ve missed anything major in this syllabus, we hope you’ll let us know!

Further Resources33 links

Books

  • bookHatching Twitter — Nick Bilton — A cautionary (and somewhat gossipy) tale about co-founder conflicts
  • bookCreativity, Inc. — Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace — Especially chapter 2, “Pixar is Born,” which tells the story of how the three Pixar co-founders found each other and decided to go into business
  • bookFounders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days — Jessica Livingston — Interviews with thirty-two founders of successful businesses, including many co-founders
  • bookCofounding the Right Way — Jana Nevrlka
  • bookThe Founder’s Dilemmas — Noam Wasserman — Tradeoffs founders confront when deciding when/with whom to found, how to split equity, how to divide roles, etc.

Interviews with co-founders

Communities for founders

Co-founder services and opportunities

Disclaimer: Holloway has not tested these services and cannot speak to their quality. But since you’re already here, we thought we could save you a Google search.

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