Calling All Student Entrepreneurs: Tell Us About Your Startup

People matter: why you should have a great co-founder

Jun 6, 2012

Start-up is a lot of work. Down the line to underpin your world together you must have support and a co-founder can be the best source of energy and sauce you need. Any start-up typically takes two to three years to stand, this time can vary both in up and down, and throughout the path it is like riding a roller coaster, once you got up you just wait to stop and to get out. Having great people who can handle both the speed of roller coaster and support each other is important.

PayPal co-founder Max Levchin said it quite fantastic in his interview with Jessica Livingston in the book Founders at work: Stories of Start-ups’ early days:

Try to have a good co-founder. I think it’s all about people, and, if you are doing it completely alone, it’s really hard. It’s not impossible, in particular if you are a loner and introverted type, but it’s still really hard. One of the ways PayPal changed me is that I used to be really introverted, and I sort of still am, but not anywhere near to the extent that I used to be. A big part of it was that I had run a company before PayPal, alone, and I thought it was fine. I could deal with it. But, you only can count on energy sources and support sources from yourself. There’s really no one else who you can go to and say, “Hey, this thing is going to fall apart any minute now. What the hell are we going to do?”

The thing that kept us going in the early days was the fact that Peter and I always knew that both of us would not be in a funk together. When I was like, “This fraud thing is going to kill us,” Peter said, “No, I’ve seen the numbers. You are doing fine. Just keep at it. You’ll get it.” On the flip side, when Peter would be annoyed by some investors or board dynamics or whatever, I was usually there trying to support him. That sort of sounds touchy-feely, but I think you have to really have good people. If you have a good team, you are halfway there. Even more importantly, perhaps, you have to have a really strong cofounder. Someone you can rely on in a very fundamental way.

Even though we are quite informed about the importance of a great team but when we start we look for someone our close over someone close to our ideas. The fatal side of having someone close on board is that you could not exercise power. Having great people in your team is like getting half the task done. Be selective when you are getting ready for your journey with somebody.

Max Levchin also founded Slide and also Chairman of Yelp.

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Ruhul Kader is a technology and business analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at

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