How To Find The Startup Partner Of Your Dreams – 6 Qualities You Need To Look For

  One of the most basic problems that is faced by entrepreneurs venturing out into business world is a partner that always seems to leave them. Everything seems to be in the...


One of the most basic problems that is faced by entrepreneurs venturing out into business world is a partner that always seems to leave them. Everything seems to be in the right place; the idea is perfect, the execution plan is correctly formulated and work is going steadily. Except, everything seems to fall apart as your startup partners keep on leaving – one after the other.This is true with most startups – the rate of turnover of the co-founders is extremely high, which mainly leaves the founder in a state of dizziness and a very high level of demotivation.

This problem is faced mostly by early bird startups that have not yet produced a feasible prototype for their product to raise enough seed money to hire a team, so they go around to the second path – distribution of their startup equity in exchange for services – which basically means selling off parts of the dream to people in exchange for free work.

One of the most basic problems that is faced by entrepreneurs venturing out into business world is a partner that always seems to leave them. Everything seems to be in the right place; the idea is perfect, the execution plan is correctly formulated and work is going steadily. Except, everything seems to fall apart as your startup partners keep on leaving – one after the other.This is true with most startups – the rate of turnover of the co-founders is extremely high, which mainly leaves the founder in a state of dizziness and a very high level of demotivation.

Right from the start of that sentence the importance of belief is clearly evident – if those you are trying to sell off the dream to people that don’t believe in it then there is a very high chance of your best friend + business partner running off to find a “real” job at some point.

Learning from trial and error is simply not affordable for a startup and quick, workable solutions need to be implemented. If any problem is to be resolved the root cause of that problem needs to be determined;the root cause of this particular problem starts from the decision making process of the founder him/herself.


“Come work for us and we will give you a share; we can’t pay you because we don’t have any money right now”, said Mark Zuckerberg to Graffiti artist David Choe. 

Or actually he didn’t.

Choe was just smart and opted to go for shares of Facebook instead of a liquid cash payment for his work. Today, David Choe maybe worth $ 500 million. According to a New York Times article, David Choe was offered $60,000 by Facebook in its early days to add some color its concrete walls, at a time when Facebook did not amount to much. According to Choe, he decided to take the leap of faith, based mostly on his hope in the leadership of Sean Parker – the Napster founder that had joined Zuckerberg’s team during the early years. Looking at the case of David Choe, a basic framework for co-founder selection can be determined.

Ask yourself this question – how many people you know would have taken the $60,000 payment instead of opting for shares in the company? 

Now rephrase the question – How many people you have ever hired on an equity basis in any one of your startups would have opted for the $60,000 payout instead of going for the shares?

And there lies your answer. The equity distribution model is mostly present in startups that do not have a significant amount of seed money to develop the idea the’re working on in the first place. Generally, the model is prevalent in startups centered around a software product since hardware startups do require some form of early stage investment and rarely suffer from this issue. So what is the magical formula for hiring the right person on an equity basis?

1. Long tail Mindset

If you read the case of David Choe mentioned above, you would have noticed a certain peculiarity regarding the way he thinks. Again, many of the people that would have been in his position would have opted for the giant wad of cash that was being offered to him then. However, he instead opted to make a very risky decision. Then and there, he knew the work he was going to do for Facebook was worth a significant amount of money – $60,000 to be precise. He had already cut the deal and could have walked away with the money, but he didn’t instead chose to go for the long haul based on a hunch he had about one of the members of Zuckerberg’s team. People like Choe would have been branded as crazy by most of his friends and by almost all of the people that were to read his story.
And crazy people like Choe is exactly what you are looking for!

What most people dont understand is that Choe wasn’t and isn’t crazy. His art may be too wild for some people’s tastes but everyone is bound to have his own likes and dislikes. Choe simply had the “Long tail” mindset. He judged that the chances of him making a greater amount of money in the future were viable based on the faith he had instilled in Sean Parker, a significantly successful entrepreneur for those times.

Qualities like the ones found in Choe is what you would first be looking for in your soon to be co-founder. This is the first step in selecting the right person. 

Ideally, the person should have a long term vision and it is important the he/she looks up to you in some way or form. You need to outline your achievements to him or her and if the mental connect occurs then only the relationship is worth pursuing.

2.Passion and Drive

hqdefaultPassion can be a very difficult beast to tame. Many people drive themselves to absolute ruin over this emotion and some end up becoming highly successful. It all depends on how the emotion is channeled. A very bright example of a passionate entrepreneur of our time, that does not let the thoughts of others get in the way is none other than Elon Musk. Recently he stated that he believes that we are living in a giant video game simulation. Many people wanted to brand him crazy on that particular statement but couldn’t. After all, Musk couldn’t be wrong now could he? What makes Elon Musk unique is the fact that he holds insane amounts of passion and drive. When everyone had given up on the electric car and documentaries were out citing a giant conspiracy, this man was on his drawing board getting to work. Today you have Tesla, SpaceX and mission to send humanity to Mars! 

So if the co-founder you’re so intent on hiring thinks your idea is stupid then you are better off not wasting your time on him or her unless he or she provides you with a valid model on how you can render it feasible. Good entrepreneurs always works a way towards the solution and not towards creating mental roadblocks for themselves and their products or services. 


What is a common trait found in both the men that are mentioned above? Both of them, if it were not for the amount of money they had earned, would have most certainly be branded as a bunch of lunatics by the society around them. A study reads that 72% of entrepreneurs are affected by some form of a mental illness! Isn’t that a sign enough?

When looking for the person to work with, look for the guy or girl in your surroundings whose ideas people are rejecting and calling crazy. The madness in them is the key which leads them to innovate around the constraint of limited resources. You may think that the person with the insane coding skills will provide more of a benefit to you in the long run, but a good coder can always be hired. You are better off with the person who would help you raise the money to hire a coder than putting your product in the hands of an unreliable resource whose commitment cannot be guaranteed.

4.Persistence and Commitment

Persistence is a key trait in the long hunt for the fellow entrepreneur who would help you get to your first million dollars. The whole process of business revolves around the constant cycling of a particular process which is also known as a business model. The cycle takes time to understand and develop but once it has latched onto the right niche market then it is just a matter of rinse and repeat to gather more customers and increase the market base. To reach that point however requires a very persistent personality. Early bird startups face many problems during product or service development and will face glitches and failures on a regular basis. In all this mess, the warrior that always gets back after he is punched out by the burden of constant failure is the one that succeeds. Your ideal startup partner needs to exhibit in addition to the qualities mentioned above, this particular quality. Look for the guy or girl that struggled through high school in spite of their failing grades, or that person that kept on re-applying to the same university giving the SAT again and again until he reached the particular level of acceptance. The border line obsessive compulsive disorder is why these people reach the epitome of success, they simply dont take no for an answer and it is not long before success finds them.

5.Harsh upbringing 

The last characteristic you would be looking for in your ideal partner is not very ideal to go through for anyone. However, if the biography of most successful people is to be read a very striking similarity between all of them would be the fact that they came from a very difficult background and did not have large swathes of wealth locked up in their treasure chest to invest in their first businesses. While it is true that many rich folks today did have powerful backings of wealthy families, people such as Shahid Khan and Ken Langone worked odd jobs such as washing dishes and plumbing before making astounding amounts of fortunes. Such people while having all the above mentioned qualities can only see one way in life, they simply don’t want to look backwards and will work with an intense zeal to drive themselves as far away from their past lives as possible while those coming from a privileged background have little incentive to not go back to the lives they had. While having a hard childhood is certainly not something that one should wish upon someone else, the presence of it in the lifeline of these great people certainly makes the causality important to discern.  

6.No long term goals other than business

Various people have different career plans. It is the beauty of diversity and the democratic system that allows this feature to exist in society. As such, it is important for the startup partner’s long term goals to be clearly discussed with him or her before they are brought on board. If they have plans to go for higher studies to a different country or for work away from the same town or city that you live in then you are better off partnering with 60 year old Mrs.Lucy next door – at least she will not ditch you when you need her the most. 

When partnering with anyone always ask them for a minimum of a 1 to 1.5 year commitment. This will ensure that they stay right on track for a small enough time that would at-least allow you to look for someone new in case they decide on leaving you in the middle of things. 

A quote by the co-founder of GluedGripStudios serves as the perfect ending note to this topic

“Always look for people that are similar to you in terms of mindset , but different to you in the possession of their skill set, such they are able to complement your work and believe in your goals like you do”

Ensuring that the six qualities that are mentioned above are held dearly by your prospective partner is a very good indication of your future success with him or her; furthermore, any chances of them leaving you get reduced to little or none!




An artist that draws the world in squiggly lines.
11 Comments on this post.
  • Hassan
    19 June 2016 at 2:02 am
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    Brother i would say you said what was in my heart.

  • Goldman
    19 June 2016 at 6:21 am
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    Insightful. A very convincing article

  • Mobeen
    19 June 2016 at 7:40 am
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    Awesome, People need to read this. A must read for people like me 😛

    • Bilal Firoz
      19 June 2016 at 3:24 pm
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      Thankyou so much mubeen 🙂

  • Abdul Jhanzeb
    19 June 2016 at 10:34 am
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    brothr i m hve prblem startin g my Busines s cn U hlp. I m only sun wit 2 siss and 1 moter

    • Bilal Firoz
      19 June 2016 at 3:22 pm
      Leave a Reply

      Yes I will be more than willing to help you. We can communicate through email. Please drop an email on

    • Muhammad Abdullah Khan
      20 June 2016 at 7:45 am
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      Let’s get started

  • Maryam Sajjad
    19 June 2016 at 1:44 pm
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    Loved it…very inspiring

    • Bilal Firoz
      19 June 2016 at 3:23 pm
      Leave a Reply

      Thanks for the read mariam ! 🙂

  • Syed Ahmed
    22 June 2016 at 2:54 pm
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    Thank you Billal for sharing such a thought full information with us, this seems to be a real time problem for all Startups and It’s a good article for entrepreneurs.

  • Salman Tariq
    29 June 2016 at 12:30 am
    Leave a Reply

    Very informative, Comprehensive and Most importantly it discusses and suggest what i haven’t found in others. A really nice effort

  • Leave a Reply



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