Why a Co-founder Can Make All the Difference

“Whatever I do, I always have a partner in crime.” – Ashley Fontenot, Ep. 11

Batman & Robin

Ironman & War Machine

Captain America & Falcon

When you’re going into the scene of battle, it’s best not to go alone.

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A common trend we’ve noticed about our guests here at Everyday Superhumans is that none of them go alone. Ashley had her two best friends when opening her business, and for the Cooper Life Fund she had her husband. Donny had AJ. 1 Misty & Tysman had each other. Having a partner in crime is essential in going out in the world and making a difference. This podcast would have never have happened if it wasn’t for Caroline and I going into it together.

Having a co-founder is necessary for balancing out your strengths and weaknesses, setting goals, and keeping each other in check.

Part 1: I know podcasts, and you know journalism

There’s a dirty secret we have over here at Everyday Superhumans, only one of us is a podcast listener. I, Kyle, am a huge fan of podcast and podcasting. I’m the kind of person who’s always on the go, or always doing something, which makes podcasts the most accessible form of media for me. Caroline is not podcast listener, and that’s perfect, in fact it might have been beneficial that she wasn’t aware of the typical formats of podcasting. This unique combo gives us both an insider and outsider point of view. What she does know is journalism and social media.

With her skills in journalism she brought to the table things I could not, such as social media marketing 2, picking out interesting guests, editing3, and knowing which questions to ask. Where as I would do more of the background stuff. Things like managing the website, designing our first logo, and operating the mixer during our interviews. Our unique backgrounds and interests helps us balance out our tasks in accordance to our strengths.

Having a co-founder whose strengths are opposite of your is an enormous advantage.4 There are very few solo founders out there, and even if they were solo in the beginning they needed the help of others to get their products off the ground. It even works if you don’t have the technical skills in the area you want to go into.

Say you work as a personal trainer for a local gym. The job pays well and you enjoy spending time with your clients every day. However, as you’re spotting one of your clients during a bench press you’re struck with a genius idea: wouldn’t it be nice if there was an app to help motivate people and teach them proper form? It’s a great idea, but there’s one huge hurdle: you don’t know anything about app development, or programming. Well that’s no biggie, the world is full of developers, what you have is the knowledge of training people to live a healthier life; your co-founder should have the knowledge of how to make an app.

You got the idea, and you have your strengths, and they have theirs. Now it’s time to get to the drawing board and setting up goals.

Part 2: A shared vision

When Caroline and I started the podcast we had one vision for our show: to inspire others to go out and make a change in their community through the stories of others. Visions are easy, goals are a little more challenging.

When we started Everyday Superhumans we had a huge list of things that we had to get done. A few that come to mind are:

  • Find people to interview
  • Buy equipment, a phone mic wasn’t going to cut it
  • Know how to operate said equipment
  • How to edit
  • Pick a name for the show
  • Logo design
  • Theme music
  • Figure out how to set up an RSS feed
  • Figure out what exactly an RSS feed is
  • Build a social media presence before launch

And so on. There were a lot of small things, but having a partner in crime allowed us to prioritize and plan accordingly. This helped me personally a lot because I can get hung up on name selection to a point where I will not move to the next step until I have the right name. Caroline decided that it doesn’t matter if we have a name or not at the beginning, what we did know are the kinds of people we want to talk to and the messages we wanted to promote. So we recorded our first two episodes without an actual title of the show.

Having a co-founder prioritized our goals and gave them more direction in the process. The small stuff can easily consume a single person, but having a second point of view allows you to easily overcome that obstacle and keep you focus.

Which brings me to the most important reason why having a co-founder makes all the difference in the world.

Part 3: Mutual motivation

Procrastination is the bane of us all. We all do it to some extent or the other. (I consider myself a fairly disciplined person, but I will put of icky & boring tasks like going grocery shopping). Having somebody there that’s just as driven as you can make all the difference in the world when it comes to putting things off. Because when you put things off, you’re also getting in the way of them, and if you’re in the way of them you’re hurting your shared vision.

Overcoming procrastination isn’t the only thing having a partner in crime is good for, in a team everything is a shared experience. If you’re happy, your co-founder will be happy too. If they wake up early every morning to complete a task, you might start doing so too. It’s contagious.

If you’re going into a venture solo, and it’s a bad day, it’s hard to break that negative cycle. With somebody else on your side it’s easier to overcome negativity, and set forth into the world together. Like Frodo and Sam from Lord of the Rings, they both were responsible for keep each other motivated, if Frodo went solo he probably would have turned back the moment he left the Shire.

There’s just one final question left: how do you pick a co-founder?

Part 4: The right match

Going into a new venture is like a marriage, you want to be sure that you and your co-founder are a great match in more ways than just one. There are many ways to tie the knot of business with someone, you can start an exciting new adventure with a friend, or a coworker. Meetup groups, especially those geared towards entrepreneurs or your interest, are a great way to meet fellow self-driven and like minded people as you. Reddit also have plenty of business and startup related subreddits, such as /r/entrepreneur, and /r/startups. And finally, if you want to take it to the next level, there are co-founder “dating” websites, such as CoFoundersLab, and my personal favorite: Founder Dating.

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Building something together is one of the most rewarding experiences. Whether you’re going into it full time like Donny & AJ, or running a part-time charity like Misty & Tysman, having a partner in crime is the essential to making a difference in the world.

So get out there, and save the world! And, as always, remember not every hero has to fly, so grab your cape and let’s go.

  1. Not mentioned in the interview, but as big fans of the bar I really got to know the two.
  2. All her posts perform so much better than mine
  3. I had to play catch up with her
  4. Side note: there’s this really funny SMBC comic about what would happen if only engineers marketed their products. As an engineer by profession, I found this to be so honest it hurts.