Ep. #540 - Finding Startup Co-founders
In this episode of Startup Hustle, Matt and Matt are back for Part 7 of “How to Start a Tech Company.” Finding the right startup co-founders is a common hurdle for many. Enjoy hearing how Matt and Matt have successfully found co-founders for their ventures in today’s episode!
Covered In This Episode
Starting a startup is like going on an unknown adventure. And sometimes, founders need someone who has specific expertise or shares their goal in order to make the adventure successful. That’s why finding the right startup co-founders is vital.
To help aspiring founders find their perfect co-founders, Matt DeCoursey and Matt Watson share their thoughts on what startup co-founders are, what qualities to look for, and the best ways to find them. They also share some of their experiences in avoiding conflicts with their startup co-founders.
Join the Matts in this Startup Hustle episode to learn more about startup co-founders.
- What is a co-founder? (2:25)
- Co-founders vs. Co-Founders (5:22)
- How to find a co-founder (9:25)
- It’s all about networking (17:02)
- Having the same business goals (25:03)
- A fat dog won’t hunt (27:46)
- How did you meet your co-founder? (33:24)
- Best advice for finding a co-founder (38:57)
- Wrapping Up (40:52)
A co-founder can be a little different to a business partner. In some regards, it’s someone that is there. In the trenches with you early, there’s a big difference between an investor and a co-founder. An investor writes a check and give some advice and doesn’t always do a whole lot, sometimes more, sometimes less.Matt DeCoursey
You got to have the idea, and you got to sell yourself. And a lot of times, if it’s somebody’s gonna be your co-founder, you may have to talk them out of some high-paying job somewhere to come on this crazy adventure with you.Matt Watson
Don’t make your family, your friends, and partners if you value that relationship because if it doesn’t go well with the business and you end up firing your best friend, it’s probably not going to be your best friend anymore. And it’s the same thing with family.Matt DeCoursey
You got to network. If you’re looking for a co-founder in a specific industry, you know. Pull up LinkedIn and start messaging people that work in that industry. And maybe they aren’t the right person. Maybe they know somebody, but you just got to hustle like everybody else in startups. You got to keep hustling.Matt Watson
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt DeCoursey 0:00
And we’re back. Back for another episode of Startup Hustle. Matt DeCoursey here with Matt Watson. Ready to talk about part? Was it part seven? Or we’ll part seven of our 52-part series? Matt?
Matt Watson 0:12
I love it. Yeah, seven. I can’t believe it already.
Matt DeCoursey 0:14
Is it seven? Yeah, man. I’m gonna have to, I’m gonna end up having to take my shoe off soon to count how high we are on these episode lists. But yeah, so I’m glad to be back and talking about this stuff with you. And I love this series that we’ve been working on. And we’re it much like a great idea. For a startup, we are evolving in this series and moving down the line to try to figure out the things that we need and want to start a tech company. And we’re both big advocates of the co-founder.
Matt Watson 0:48
Matt DeCoursey 0:50
Or you’re my co-founder.
Matt Watson 0:52
Matt DeCoursey 0:54
And, and, and I am your co-founder.
Matt Watson 0:57
I am your other Matt.
Matt DeCoursey 1:00
Yeah, I always tell people that you’re always the other Matt to me. So there you go. Yeah. And and by the way, I noticed on Startup Hustle TV, you were you mentioned the other Matt said, don’t start your own TV show. And then you said, Oh, but this is this is going really well. This can’t be that hard. I know as the co-founder of Startup Hustle as well, that the road to Startup Hustle TV has been brutal for you. And thank you for all of it. I’m messing with you there. So co-founders dude. And you know, we’re going to talk all about that. We’re both big advocates of it. I wasn’t always. But before we start, I want to let you know that this episode, Startup Hustle is brought to you by Silicon Valley Bank. SVB has been supporting innovative founders, companies and investors with targeted financial services and expertise for over 35 years. Matt three, five years, Silicon Valley bags built for what’s next learn email@example.com link in the description. Matt, talk to me about co-founders. What do you know?
Matt Watson 2:04
Well, I think as a first time entrepreneur, I think you almost have to have a co-founder, you know, when you’re when you if you’ve never ran a startup before, never never been an entrepreneur before. Co-founders are probably pretty important. So you need to find somebody as crazy as you are to go on this adventure.
Matt DeCoursey 2:25
So yeah, I think we need to talk first, before we get too far into, like, what a co-founder is and a co-founder is how I mean, it has a lot. Well, how do you define a co-founder?
Matt Watson 2:38
Well, it’s usually somebody who was there when the company started when the idea started, right? I mean, in some ways, you just say, Oh, well, somebody is a co-founder, are they a partner or a shareholder or whatever? Like, can kind of all similar in a lot of ways, right? But usually somebody’s the founder, if they were there at the very beginning, and it was partly their idea. I guess I would say so does it?
Matt DeCoursey 3:00
Does it mean that you have to own part of the company?
Matt Watson 3:04
Um, I would think so.
Matt DeCoursey 3:07
I feel like that’s implied. But I feel like you could still be referred to on some level as like being on the founding team. Sure. Yep. Is that fair, so you could be on the founding team that you might, but I think when you get in the ER, of founder, founding and founder can be a little different to me, a co-founder as, as, as a business partner. And in some regards, it’s someone that is there. In the trenches with you early, there’s a big difference between an investor and a co-founder and investor, writes a check and give some advice and doesn’t always do a whole lot, sometimes more, sometimes less, like, so let’s talk about us as co-founders, you’re the co-founder of Full Scale with me. And in the beginning, we did this, we traveled around the world together, we used our expertise, our businesses, our connections, and everything to work together, highlight each other skills, strengthen each other’s weaknesses, and try to build something that mattered. Right?
Matt Watson 4:09
Yeah, absolutely. And I think the other thing to point out there is we don’t all have to contribute the same to the business either, right? Like you work full time for the business. I don’t really work for the business at all anymore. You know, in the past, I’ve worked, you know, more or less at different times. And there are a lot of early-stage companies that happens where you know, one of the founders has a full time job and other one doesn’t and they you know, bring different things to the table and and that’s where people end up owning different equity and stuff too. So just because you have co-founders doesn’t mean you all have to be like 5050 owners and it either it could be well you you had another co-founder with Giga book right?
Matt DeCoursey 4:49
Yeah, and now well, a couple and those okay, yes and no. So I technically started Gigabook with within other business that I owned, we were using the resources and the capacity of that business to create what we created. Now when we turned it and at that point, it still wasn’t its own business. It was. And we’ve talked about that in some of the episodes in this series as a lot of great startups start their births within other businesses, for a number of different reasons. I didn’t have to raise capital, I didn’t even have to do anything with it. I built gigabit because in the business that it was birthed out of it was really seasonal, like you weren’t in the events business. And you know, like, you think summer would be busy in the ticketing business. But no, because the tickets went on sale in February, that’s when the most demand was. So we’d have these big lols I wanted to keep people busy, I thought there was an opportunity to do it. Now when we turned it into another business. Yes, I technically had co-founders like Darryl Darryl Blackburn, the CEO of Full Scale, was one of the co-founders. And he and you know, Darrell, is an operations guy does sales stuff and things like that with this. And then I had a technical co-founder guy named John Berman, who was who worked full time. So he was like a hybrid he was, I call him a co-founder, because he had such an impact on the way that we shaped the business going forward. He basically was like, Hey, Matt, look, from what you’re telling me you want to do and what you’re doing, they’re very different. And if you want to get to here, you need, you’re gonna need to make some changes in this changes in that, like, I’m not gonna get too far into the weeds. But he said, what you have here is not scalable.
Matt Watson 6:27
Well, and I think, yeah, I think my point is, you know, these were individuals that kind of came out and a little bit later, and they weren’t, you know, they didn’t own the same amount of stock, as you did, you know, everybody was at a different place and brought different things to the table. And some were part-time, some were full time. And, and that’s okay. I think that’s my point, right? It’s like, how these things come together, as always a little a little different.
Matt DeCoursey 6:48
Yeah. And then this in the timing of it can be different. And, you know, we mentioned earlier the, well, I wasn’t always a co-founder kind of person, I didn’t have a great experience. And the first business I owned, where I had a business partner, I ended up buying him out. And that kind of that was kind of salty about that, to be honest, I didn’t feel like I needed everyone else. And on some levels, well, I don’t know. I, I, I mean, take this, how you may, I’m hard to keep up with because when I’m really on to something, I really go, go go. And that can be frustrating for me. And I think that that’s one of the things when it comes to co-founders a lot of people run into is, oh, why isn’t this person contributing the way that I am? Or the way that I want them to? And there’s a lot of things that can go wrong with that. Now, you know, we mentioned this episode being brought to us by Silicon Valley Bank, they actually have an article on their site, and we’ll put a link to that in the show notes as well, that says picking the right business partner takes it takes work more than luck. Yep. And and that’s, I mean, and that’s the thing. So, I mean, as we get into the right, and the wrong ways to do that, as long as as well as giving some input and advice that our group at the Startup Hustle chat on Facebook contributed. I mean, do you have any co-founder overarching co-founder stories or advice?
Matt Watson 8:03
Um, what was it one of our guests on the show said that the only kind of ship that doesn’t float as a partnership?
Matt DeCoursey 8:14
But yeah, yeah, but
Matt Watson 8:15
I mean, that’s the thing. Any kind of partners, co-founders is always tricky. It’s always hard. I mean, that’s I’ve had mixed, mixed mixed success myself. So you know, you just never know. But
Matt DeCoursey 8:27
right. And the one thing is we get into this, I do want to say that whenever you have a business partner, like you really do want to choose that wisely and go slow, and figure it out and make sure it’s the right person. Because getting rid of your business partner is harder than getting rid of your, your your spouse, like you can literally get rid of your husband, your wife, your partner faster than you can a business partner. And you need to think about that, because they can can have a big impact and doing stuff. So all right. The right way to find co-founders. Our research team has our co-founders on this episode that put some notes together for us to look at mentioning, preparing our idea. Yeah, how do you get somebody? Yeah, you can’t. You’re not gonna find a co-founder. Some of them want the founder that wants to buy into what you’re doing. If you can’t even define or explain what it is you do.
Matt Watson 9:25
Yeah, you got it, you got to have a good story, you got to know the business problem you’re trying to solve. And, you know, this was this happened kind of a stack file, you know, I had the idea and I was the founder. But even with my first couple employees, which they weren’t co-founders, but they were, you know, as you would say, basically part of the founding team, and it came down to them relating to the problem. They’re like, Hey, I totally understand the problem you want you’re trying to solve and I really want to be part of this. And a lot of times you’re looking for a co-founder, that’s that’s what you got to do. You got to find somebody who is interested in the same problem that you’re trying to, or hopefully they bring some skills that are that are needed, experience, networking connections, whatever industry experience, that will help solve it. But yeah, you got to have the idea and you got to sell yourself. And a lot of times, if it’s somebody’s gonna be your co-founder, you may be having to talk them out of some high paying job somewhere, to come on this crazy adventure with you.
Matt DeCoursey 10:21
Yeah, and once you were mentioned in there was having an understanding of the skills and that you need. And that’s where that’s where some co-founder relationships become imbalanced, because I’ll give you an example. For those listening at Full Scale. So I’m a nontechnical founder, Matt’s a technical founder, we’ve both been successful at doing a lot of different stuff. And we both have different passions, skills and abilities. And that becomes that is I have a much greater respect for that after being your co-founder of Full Scale, Matt, because, I mean, I there was a lot of stuff I didn’t have to do, I didn’t have to learn how to do and I had someone there to ask that have had the answer for it. And, you know, some of the other things like and honest, I think we both know this, there’s some things that I excel out that aren’t really the you don’t necessarily like doing or aren’t, it’s not your superpower.
Matt Watson 11:19
Yep. And I think that’s the key is finding somebody who can be your, you know, Robin to your Batman or whatever.
Matt DeCoursey 11:26
And Batman on board, man, Jordan and Pippen,
Matt Watson 11:29
whatever your analogy, but the key is, you’re gonna find somebody,
Matt DeCoursey 11:34
you’re closer to Bruce Wayne than I am. So I guess I’m Robin, maybe I’m Alfred,
Matt Watson 11:42
you got to find somebody. And the key is, you gotta be able to trust them. Right? You got to be like, Hey, I’m gonna give you ownership of this part of the business. And I trust you to make it work. And so I can go focus on this other part of the business. And that’s, that’s really key is it’s got to be somebody you can trust.
Matt DeCoursey 11:58
And with that trust factor, and that is important, trust is as I think trust is sometimes a misunderstood word. Because people often think of trust when it comes to oh, that person wants to steal from me, that doesn’t mean they’re gonna work hard. Yeah, it really doesn’t. That doesn’t that does not those are not the same thing. So trust in a co-founder, well, yes, you want someone that’s going to not steal from you, that’s good. But you need to trust that people are going to are going to do what they say they’re going to do have a level of reliability. And also I think consistency.
Matt Watson 12:34
Well, and you got to think about it like you’re going to war, right? And like, do I trust this person to be standing next to me on the battle on the battlefield? And are they going to be there? Or are they going to run and turn their tail and run away in the middle of the battle? So yeah, it’s all about finding the right person you trust you. You know, if you’re betting the farm on your startup and raising money, and you got money from your rich uncle and all these things, you sure better trust your business partner, that this all isn’t going to go sideways. So it’s more about the work and finding the right person, the right people on the team, not just anybody you can find.
Matt DeCoursey 13:14
Now, there are some ways to lock some of that trust in and that has to do with the way you set up the business. You know, there’s there’s this old saying that good fences make good neighbors. And that and I think that that is paramount when it comes to getting set up with a co-founder. And what I what I’m talking about is creating a well understood set of everything, like a good contract a good a good agreement that that outlines some expectations and includes what’s going to happen if anyone including you, doesn’t deliver changes their mind or I mean, if things don’t go well, good agreements have sunny and rainy day outlook in them. And that’s and that’s the best way to do it. Because we see this a lot. It the agreement either doesn’t exist, or it has no rainy day contingencies. And now it’s a rainy day. And it can it can ruin your business.
Matt Watson 4:17
Yeah, a great way to do this is vesting, even have the founders basically vesting, so it’s like, Hey, you have to work here, three years, five years, or whatever to get your 50% ownership or whatever it is. But if you leave or, you know, you have to be fired for cause or whatever it is. And also keeps people hungry. One of the companies I invested in one to do this, just to guarantee their early founders and key employees were going to stay around. You know, I mean, once you sign the original operating agreement and all that you’re like I own 50% of the company. There’s nothing that keeps me from just walking away.
Matt DeCoursey 14:53
Right. And by the way, these agreements also extend to situations that expand past that person’s participation in the company. So I will the marital Joinder? Yep. Okay, so let’s talk about let’s talk about that for a second. So, and I had actually participated in multiple businesses before I ever saw this, but a marital Joinder is something, okay. So if if you get if someone that owns shares in a company gets divorced, technically, the people get that they may have to split those shares, you may end up being forced to be a partner, or kind of a co-founder of sorts with someone’s ex-wife, or ex-husband or whatever. And marital joindre describes how that can or could occur and gives options for the company usually gives options to the company, or the other founders to purchase or acquire that ownership in lieu of it going to someone that theoretically could even be hostile towards the company.
Matt Watson 16:01
Yep, absolutely. Protecting a rainy day scenarios.
Matt DeCoursey 16:08
That’s that’s a rainy one for sure. So that how do you find a co-founder, you know, and that’s, I mean, that’s the thing that we really, yeah, we’ve set all this up. But where do I look like what’s the best place for like, how do I find them? Where are they? Is there an app for that?
Matt Watson 16:25
You can use Tinder?
Matt DeCoursey 16:28
Is there actually an app for that? There might be like, there, there isn’t? Will someone build it? Because it’s a good idea?
Matt Watson 16:36
I think it’s LinkedIn.
Matt DeCoursey 16:39
Right? Well, man, I think the first thing is, like you said, just let ask on social media, like join some groups. There’s a guarantee there’s a group for startups or entrepreneurs in your region. How did we meet? Through a Facebook group called KC startups or startup KC?
Matt Watson 17:02
It’s all about networking. You know, I joke about Tinder because it’s not really any different than if you’re like, I want to find a guy or a girl. Where are they? There’s the bars, go to the bars, it’s run center, go to Tinder. If they’re at entrepreneurial events, startup events, the startup accelerator, entrepreneurship day at the ballpark. That’s where you should be wherever they are. That’s where you need to be right. And it’s all about networking. It’s, you know, finding people that know other people and networking, networking, networking, you never know, when there’s one thing it’s always learned, like, you meet with people, and you don’t think you’re necessarily gonna get something out of it. But you never know. You never know who this person knows who their neighbor is, who their long lost, you know, elementary school friend was like, you just never know.
Matt DeCoursey 17:50
I know one thing. You want to know what? What, if you don’t ask, you’re probably not going to get the answer. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s the end. That’s the key thing, like take action, you know, it’s opportunity doesn’t come looking for people. People go looking for opportunity. And, and that’s the thing. So be open and vocal about the fact that you have the opportunity or or that you’re seeking it. Yep. And especially, especially if you’re technical. I mean, what a man, if you are a tech person, like you can find someone that wants you as their co-founder, trust me.
Matt Watson 18:32
Well, and we all prove that Kevin Bacon proved what we’re all six or seven degrees away from Kevin Bacon, right? And with most entrepreneurs stuff and your own city, you’re probably two or three degrees away from almost everybody in your city. You just don’t know it. And so you gotta just ask around and hustle.
Matt DeCoursey 18:53
I think one last thing we should throw in there is there’s there’s so many organizations, groups, I mean, programs that are built in cities and by nonprofit, other entrepreneurs, like any of them, that literally exist to incubate, start or develop business entities in and around wherever you’re at. The government wants you to start businesses, it’s the biggest driver of employment we see. And they’re out there. And these places exist to get you and someone else together potentially, and sometimes help you find the resources or other mentors or whatever to get it done. Now, that by the way, if you do find those funding resources, Silicon Valley Bank is a good place to park that cash. They and I love what they do for founders because they think differently. They don’t think like a typical bank. There’s a link in the show notes. sbb.com There you go. I did it on air. All right. As I asked him out before we recorded if I should announce sbb.com In that way, and I think they’d love it. So if they did or didn’t, it’s too late at this point. How about the wrong way, man?
Matt Watson 20:14
Well, you know, one of them, that’s not even on our list here, I think we got to add to the list could be just picking random family members to be a co-founder. I think that’s number one on the list of like, okay, my wife’s a co-founder for like, no reason, we’re gonna be co-founders, like, working with them. I
Matt DeCoursey 20:34
didn’t pick picking the first choice, just picking the first choice, because it’s there. It’s the same thing. Yeah,
Matt Watson 20:39
family and businesses was never good. So be careful with that. It can work for some people it works, but may not be your first choice for a co-founder.
Matt DeCoursey 20:51
I worked with my wife every day for six years, and we pulled it off. And we did really well. And I would tell people that and that, like 95% of people would either say, I could never work with my husband or wife, or how the hell do you do it, or something like that, like, it was really an anomaly like it’s and and, and so the reason that it’s important to kind of not consider your friends and family as they’re probably not as passionate about it as you are. And if you value the relationship, and I actually, like, this was one of the Million Dollar Lessons in my book, million dollar bedroom, was, Don’t Don’t make your family, your friends and partners if you value that relationship, because if it doesn’t go well with the business, and you end up firing your best friend, it’s probably not going to be your best friend anymore. And it’s the same thing with family. So, I mean, really, that’s kind of a rule of thumb, and people are gonna do they do it all day, every day anyway. But some are gonna work out some don’t. But if you value that relationship past the business, that’s a good reason to not look at it. So what about situations where I mean, we want to avoid a gross imbalance and investment and resources?
Matt Watson 22:10
Well, absolutely. It’s, as you as you mentioned earlier, in your example of Giga book, right, like you had somebody who was working part-time for the business, and they were, you know, maybe they work five or 10 hours a week, right? Versus you’re working 60 hours a week, and maybe you brought a bunch of capital to the business or the customers or industry experience or whatever. That’s something else that you got to watch out for, and bringing different different things to the table, and it can be way out of balance. And then that can be fine. But that also comes down to how you split the equity or should somebody really be an employee and not really a founder.
Matt DeCoursey 22:47
So if you’re on the live stream, there are several people commenting, looking for co-founders on this episode. So there you go. And by the way, we were talking about Pippin, and Jordan. She said, I’m BJ Armstrong, which was the the shorter point guard that you that team was not probably didn’t win championships without him. So that happens. You know, the resource thing is, you know, that I see people give away equity and in batches that they it’s stupid, like they undervalue the equity, they overpay to bring someone in, that isn’t providing any other value other than the work that they’re doing that and that same work, could be very easily replaced. And this happens a lot with technical, right, like, Oh, my friends, a programmer getting 40% of the company, and he worked has a full time job. So when you have people that I’ve learned this lesson, the hard way, when someone has a job, when they’re splitting time, they have a full time job somewhere else, especially if they have a wife or husband and have kids, you are going to get very little of that person’s attention. Because they’re going to go to work all day they’re going to work, they’re going to come home, they’re going to be with their family gonna be with their wife, and then they’re going to probably do at best about an hour of work at at what I often refer to as the butthole of the day, because it’s like 11pm to midnight, you know, and it’s just like, and it makes things move really slow. So I see situations where they’ve given someone like this 40% of the company for the replacement value of something like pretty miniscule at that point. Well, and it’s like so what how you with the equity and the resources that come in, they should be commensurate to to the replacement cost. Like in that situation I just described. You can hire a developer at Full Scale for not a whole lot and have a full time person plugging away. Instead, you gave away what could have been $400,000 worth of equity for 1/8 of the effort,
Matt Watson 25:03
so I think there’s a couple a couple of things think about there, as you could say, look, you’re doing $5,000 worth of work a month. So, you know, based on that we’re, you know, we’ll say the company’s worth half a million dollars. And so we’re going to come up with some percentage or whatever, like, you know, you have to figure out a way to do that. But the challenge is, if you don’t have any money, like, if you have money, you’re like, hey, yeah, I can go hire somebody. And I don’t have to give up equity. But there’s a lot of companies that just never get off the ground for that reason, they don’t have equity, and or they don’t have cash, and they don’t have a coach. And a lot of times, that’s the only way they’re ever going to succeed is to go find that technical co-founder that can make it happen. And that’s a great scenario. A lot of times, I mean, think about the Winklevosses and Zuckerberg, right, like, there are a lot of the lot of Winklevosses running around the wincle by that, that need a coder that need Mark Zuckerberg to get the business going. And if you can’t afford to pay him, the only thing you can do is give them equity. And that’s that’s just the reality of it. So but you can figure out how to structure
Matt DeCoursey 26:06
you don’t have you don’t have to overpay Yeah.
Matt Watson 26:09
Yep, you can give them less. You can do vesting, you can do different things.
Matt DeCoursey 26:14
So the inexperienced often want to chop these things up based on how many people are involved. Yeah, oh, there’s three people, we should all have a third. I mean, shut? Yeah, yeah.
Matt Watson 26:25
Another really Shuja, another big problem with co-founders is not having the same business goals. And a good example of that is, say, we want to start, you know, whatever kind of software company is just gonna be a lifestyle business, it’s just gonna be the two of us, and we make, you know, 10 grand a month, and we’re happy and it’s cool. Or do you like want to ring the bell on the Wall Street? Right? Like, you want to go public and IPO and do all this craziness, where I’m like, Nah, I just want to golf every day and make, you know, a few, a few grand, those are totally different goals. And so you’ve got to have alignment on, you know, where this business is going? Are we going to raise capitals? It’s gonna be a lifestyle business, is it gonna be a big business? Those are important things to figure out. It’s kind of like going on a date, like, are we gonna get married? Or we just haven’t dinner? What are we doing? figure these things out?
Matt DeCoursey 27:17
I’m not going to I’m not going to refer to your prior statements about tender on that one. Just say, you know, so. Is that predefined? I don’t even I never even been on the app. Anyway. You talking about having a great fit in? You’re right, Matt, like, sit down with your potential co-founders? And it’s pretty simple. What are your goals? Like, what do you want out of life? Like, what would what do you want out of this business? What stage are you at? Right? Because a lot of there’s a there’s a saying that says a fat dog won’t hunt. Right. And the reason for that is well, a it might it because it doesn’t have any it doesn’t have any reason to. And this is something that that happens is some people get a little tiny, better success. So now I used to be a sales manager for a real retail chain. And I had, it was so predictable, I had so many salespeople, that would have a great month. And you could just count on the fact that they weren’t going to sell shit the next month, because they were complacent and happy. And once they hit like a minuscule amount of comfort, they kind of quit trying or they get and money is a really weird thing. And some people when they get it, it changes them dramatically. And their head is off in the clouds, or I mean, I mean a lot, a lot of crazy things can happen. And you know, so here’s your business partner, and all of a sudden, he’s got a little bit of money now and he’s on his boat every weekend. And or every day, and you’re not or on the golf course, or, you know, so that that people and know what and where and how and like, just talk it out. And I mean, that’s really the next day. And that leads right into this next item on our list is you can’t have a lack of communication. Matt, how many? Okay, if we’ve been at business partners at Full Scale for 1000 days? How many of those days do you think you and I have had some degree of communication about Full Scale?
Matt Watson 29:27
It’s got to be at least half of them for sure.
Matt DeCoursey 29:30
Dude, that’s low. I think it’s I think it’s probably like 90% I mean, the first almost two years of the company, we shared offices together, we would see each other there’s things like like messages on Slack or you know, any of that and and that’s the communication and the understanding about what’s needed. And when we’re talking folks like sometimes it’s updates. Sometimes it’s like, Hey, man, like, if we keep seeing this problem, what are we going to do to fix it? You know, like a lot of different stuff. And sometimes it’s also important in that communication to celebrate once, we’ve been having a great month at Full Scale. That’s what we were talking about. Right before we hit record, because we were communicating about that it’s important to celebrate the wins, too. Absolutely. I mean, Matt, if I didn’t communicate with you, because we aren’t in the same office, and because of the pandemic, you might not even know we’re winning. Do you want it? Do you want to know when we’re winning? Right?
Matt Watson 30:27
Matt DeCoursey 30:30
I think without that, you’re gonna run into conflicts?
Matt Watson 30:33
Absolutely. The conflicts with business partners are always interesting. I, we had one than solutions. That was a big problem, actually a couple but you know, some that just like, oh, okay, they’re my business partner, not necessarily co-founder, but their business partner. And just the work that they’re doing. I don’t agree with the work they’re doing and that I don’t agree with the way they’re managing the company. And like, all that sort of stuff, like, Oh, my God, but but how do you avoid that conflict before you become co-founders?
Matt DeCoursey 31:09
I mean, I think if you already have conflict before, you’re about to co-found something with someone that’s just dumb. Because what’s going to change? Why is that going to get any better? I mean, in our, in the instance, related to, to us being co-founders, I mean, we had a pretty well written operating agreement, we understood that we had some experience we know when some bad experience too, but who’s going to make decisions? How where, why all of that? What are the boundaries? Yeah, what are you know, and whatever. And it doesn’t mean we always then that we don’t always agree. No, but sometimes you don’t in some, and we’re and we are, you know what, let’s talk about that for a second. Because now I think one of the things that’s made us great co-founders is you and I can bitch at each other about stuff we’re not happy about. And we aren’t, we aren’t hurt about that. past the end of the conversation, like some of avoiding conflict is getting past it. As you mentioned, this is a battle, this is a war and emotions come out sometimes, and that’s fine. So get past it and get back in, you know, and like, it’s fine. It’s healthy like that I had some ways just defined a type of disruption. Friction starts fire. And you know, and that’s okay. So I don’t want I don’t want to say avoiding conflict is a must, because sometimes the best results come out of that, but you won’t get any results if it by the way. And when we disagree on stuff. It’s not us just being stupid, out or to each other. It’s about stuff that that that matters, or is important. And we’re just sometimes, well, let’s refer to it more as a heated debate.
Matt Watson 32:49
Sure. I think another another thing to think about when you say avoiding conflict is when you first start the company, as co-founders is just understanding what each other’s responsibilities are. Right? You mentioned that earlier, kind of out our operating agreement, but it’s like, Hey, I’m in charge of sales, you’re in charge of development, stay out of my lane, and we’ll be fine. Right? We’re where if you had two people that think they’re both the world’s best salespeople, and then they just fight all the time, because they don’t agree with each other strategies or whatever, like, you’re just gonna have a lot of conflict. So it’s, you know, just trying to identify those things upfront.
Matt DeCoursey 33:24
So I want to share a little bit of info from the Startup Hustle chat on Facebook, because we asked, I asked everyone in there, and you know, there’s a couple 1000 people in there. Really great input. So I said, How did you meet your co-founder. And these were some of the responses first off from Kyle, Steffi, who is our fellow cast member, on Startup Hustle TV, if you haven’t checked that out, go to YouTube and check out Startup Hustle TV, a blind date at a bar. Then they got married later, and co-founders went to school together. They were my clients, then we started a business together. I think that I could see that being common Fiverr Fiverr. That was we probably probably ordered a small gig. Yeah, I did it again, and then ordered a third one to say, Hey, will you contact me? Yeah. And then this one, this last one on here, as I think really common, we were colleagues at a corporate gig and went out on our own together.
Matt Watson 34:27
Absolutely. That’s one of the best ones right there.
Matt DeCoursey 34:31
And I bet and I bet that business assuming that they were still doing it within the expertise that they have learned, probably did well. They’d already worked together
Matt Watson 34:42
for my VinSolutions days. That happened at least three times, after after, even after we sold them solutions, or at least three different groups that went and started other companies that had worked together at VinSolutions. So and that’s where he talked about like, you know, the tree grows and drop seeds and other things. Bro like that happens a lot with with startups that come out of other things. And that’s one of the best ways to find a co-founder is people you work with.
Matt DeCoursey 35:09
And you aren’t you how likely are, then that’s why I said they work together is strong, because that’s what a new business says it’s a lot of work and you know what you’re getting, I think anytime you know, what you’re getting are, you have a pretty good idea of it is, is a good, that’s, that’s it, that’s a good, that’s a that’s in the plus column. You know, so Alright, so a few key takeaways here, you know, you don’t have to find a co-founder,
Matt Watson 35:39
you don’t have to. And when I started stack five, I didn’t want to, I didn’t want partners, I didn’t want a co-founder.
Matt DeCoursey 35:47
And that’s I mean, that was the same way I was with a lot of different things now, sometimes co-founding and you know, like, if done well, and done, right? It’s really strong.
Matt Watson 35:59
Yeah, and looking back, it could have been the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. If I could have found somebody that knew the industry really well, and, you know, was good at sales and, or something might or might have made a big difference. Never know.
Matt DeCoursey 36:13
I think that another key takeaway was, you know, be honest about what your weaknesses are, what you’re not good at, and try to fix it. You know, like, if you have three co-founders, and they’re all good at the exact same thing, then you’re while you’re guaranteed, you’re gonna have to hire some people pretty quickly, or add some people that do the stuff that you’re terrible at, or you’re going to have other people doing something that they’re probably out of their depth on. And they’re going to be spending a lot of time learning, you’re gonna have to learn a lot anyway, if you started a new business, but I mean, then I think one of the more mature qualities of advanced entrepreneurship is just owning what you’re not good at not what are you good at? What do you not good at?
Matt Watson 37:00
My least favorite things have to do with operations and managing people and processes. And I don’t not really care a lot about sales and marketing stuff. You know, I love being an engineer. So I love everything about engineering product, and then all the rest of it, I’d kind of rather just like, go hide in the basement somewhere and write code. Let somebody else.
Matt DeCoursey 37:19
So that’s it. That’s what you should be doing. Yeah. Because when you’re doing anything other than that, inherently, on some level, you are not happy.
Matt Watson 37:28
Yeah. And I’m not the best at it.
Matt DeCoursey 37:31
Also true. I mean, just saying like, in general. You know, like in the end, but by the way, I want to give another shout out, you should check out the slicing pie, slicing pie.com. I have no I have no vested interest in and, and that’s Mike Moyer. He’s been on the show, go back and listen to that episode, because that is the coolest app I’ve seen for making cofounding equitable for everybody. It literally helps you to find input-output value, and it basically vests in and it’s, it’s really amazing that it’s really cool. It’s like two it’s like 20 bucks a month. It’s just super, super easy to use. And I just think it’s I think it’s great. So, you know, that as we as we arrive at the end of this episode, and we move to the founders freestyle, which, once again, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is brought to you by Silicon Valley Bank SVB. I’m allowed to do that. But I
Matt Watson 38:29
think there are more times just a couple of us, we
Matt DeCoursey 38:35
have to charge them more if I really get into it, you know, so no, I’m just kidding. But no, SVB has been supporting innovative founders, companies and investors, they give targeted financial services and expertise for over 35 years. By the way, reach out to them, maybe they can help you find a co-founder. And it’s everywhere. And be.com. And I
Matt Watson 38:57
think it’s important to note that you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to use Silicon Valley Bank. They service.
Matt DeCoursey 39:03
Oh, true. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, for example, our contact there is in Denver. So by the way, for unique blends, listening and commenting on the live chat, you mentioned that one of us looks like third base. Is that me? I’m not sure. Thank you. My dad. And man dad is a rapper I haven’t heard of since about 1992. So I think she’s probably talk. I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe she’ll let me know. So all right. It was worth it. What’s What’s the best advice that you can give? She confirmed on the I do apparently look like third base. Google. The guy’s a rapper. Yeah. Hey, I’ll take that as a compliment. You know, it’s better than like, a lot of other people I could probably look like. Okay, so Matt, what’s the best advice you can give for finding a co-founder? Based on what we’re talking about there?
Matt Watson 39:55
Yeah, I think if I think if you’re a first time entrepreneur, I think having and co-founders is probably really important. It’s much harder to do this, if you’ve never done it before, trying to find a co-founder who’s done it before, or at least you got two or three of you that are all in this adventure together that bring different skills, which is kind of what I had to go through the first time, we had no idea what we were doing. But at least there were multiple of us along the journey. You know, if you’ve done this before, maybe you don’t need a co-founder, or maybe you’re like, hey, I don’t want business partners, I’ve done this, I have the money, I can hire people, I’m gonna hire the right people, you’re in a different situation. But if you’re really looking for a co-founder, the most important thing to do I think, is just networking. Just you got to network, you know, if you’re looking for a co-founder and a specific industry, you know, pull up LinkedIn and start messaging people that work in that industry. And maybe they aren’t the right person. Maybe they know somebody, but you just got to gotta hustle like everything else was startups, you got to keep hustling.
Matt DeCoursey 40:52
Yeah, and you covered so much of what I wanted to say or what I’ve said, so I’m not going to repeat all of it, I think of overall, like, have a plan, have a vision. Write it down, announce your intentions and your opportunities, and go out and start talking to people. I mean, I already do it online, do it talk to people and like the more noise you make, the more you’re going to be heard, especially with this there is a there world, there’s a huge list of people that are looking for opportunity. They’re looking for things to do they want to be entrepreneurs, they want to participate in this kind of stuff. And if you’re alright, so I’m often told, Hey, you’re an if you’re an ideas guy, you’ve got all these ideas. Okay? Look, there’s people that aren’t the, quote, idea, person, but they they’re they want to be entrepreneurs, or entrepreneurs, and they’ve got tools and experience and everything, and they’re waiting for you to get to have that idea. And so like it’s but if you don’t ask, you’re not gonna get it so man, I’m gonna go because I know that if you don’t ask for the sale usually don’t make one. I’ve been selling a ton of stuff this month. So I’m going to ask you if it’s okay, if you end this episode, so I can get back to selling. I’m gonna let you sign off.
Matt Watson 42:14
Absolutely. I’m gonna go put some more money in
Matt DeCoursey 42:17
Matt Watson 42:21