Alex Karetin is CBDO and Executive Partner of Overgear, a worldwide gaming marketplace. Since 2014, he has been focused on advising on the gaming industry, investing in different projects in this sphere and strategic planning.
We spoke to him recently about his startup experience with a particular focus on what you should look for when trying to find the ideal co-founder.
Why are co-founders important?
It is extremely difficult, almost impossible in business to make a breakthrough and create something great alone. We are all limited by our mindset, skills, knowledge. Therefore, extraordinary companies are created by the synergy of several people. Solo-founders are often limited to one idea, project.
Taking my own example, I will share the principles of choosing co-founders if you want to create a company that will grow into a whole ecosystem. I’m a co-founder of Overgear, the worldwide gaming marketplace that provides users with a wide range of services.
Is it important that a co-founder complements your skillset?
The key point is that you need to look for a person who can fill the gaps in your competencies. A very common problem for startups is founders who are quite closed people. They can create an outstanding product, but no one will ever know about it, since they don’t represent and promote it properly. To solve this problem, they need to find a person who has a particular set of skills, who are able to tell the world what masterpiece was created.
In the case of Overgear, at the very beginning of the project, I understood that I want to be engaged in strategy development and investments, and I do not see myself as an operational co-founder. In the future, this gap was completely covered by the CEO of the project, Anton, as he took responsibility for financial operations, the legal part, the team.
What comes first: idea or founders?
Partners are not always picked up for the idea. In my case, firstly I met my cofounders and then we got the idea. I believe if you do not have a great idea, but you have people who together make up a perfect combination in terms of the business, you have more chances.
You can start to work on ordinary business products close to you but do it on a high level, and then make the pivot. In general, you need to understand that having an idea is good, but the most important thing is people, your team. It’s much easier to find a project for a team of good specialists than a team for your idea.
How should you share responsibility with a co-founder?
Having an idea and business model at the start, you should assign roles. It will be the wrong way to share responsibilities base on what core competence the partner has. Here you should understand your current business’ needs. Try to figure out and decompose tasks that you need to perform and then assign them to particular persons.
Each part of the business should be assigned to the person who takes the responsibility for it. Only in this case, you will be free from micromanagement and can focus on the development.
There is always a risk of overestimating your time or opportunities, try to take it into account and discuss possible solutions. Otherwise, you can face misunderstandings. For example, cofounders thought that they would devote a certain number of hours a day to the project, and then suddenly more work could come up. This part of the work is assigned to nobody and you’ll have to negotiate and share responsibilities one more time. And it happens because people did not think about in advance and were not prepared for such a turn of events.
Do you have to like your co-founders?
Take into consideration his/her personality. Your co-founder should be absolutely a person with whom you can get along. It is simply due to the fact that we all are different people and different worldviews. It’s easier to work with people who have similar opinions, thoughts that are close to you.
Sometimes something goes wrong, and it is important that the co-founder is open for a discussion and doesn’t stop communicating with you completely. You should have an understanding that in a conflict situation, he/she will not let you down.
There are always some risks, but you should have in mind that you’re together for great goals.
Should co-founders be as invested in a project as you?
Each co-founder should depend on the success of your project. If not, then the project is likely to fail… The efficiency and results come from the understanding of each person that if the project does not work out, then he/she will suffer financially or have reputational losses. It doesn’t work otherwise.
Where can you find co-founders?
Creating the right surroundings around you is one of the most important tasks for any entrepreneur. You always need to think about how to network with more ambitious and experienced people around you. For that purpose, you can also use some digital services.
There is a number of platforms that help to find co-founders, investors, and expand networking. For example, Founder2be, CoFoundersLab, Founders-nation, Starhawk, and more others.
These platforms cover almost all areas and services that are needed for creating a startup. You can find there a team, co-founders, investors. I highly recommend you to try these services and look how it will broaden your horizons.
If you are looking not only for a co-founder but also for the specialists for your team, then Founder2be can be useful for you. There people launch, get users, raise funding, find developers, web designers, marketers, and more.
If you feel that you seek for mentorship or a person who can help you on your way, then try to register on CoFounders Lab. It is a network of over 400,000 entrepreneurs and mentors from 140 countries. Its membership allows you to get there access to potential co-founders, team members, and advisors, monthly workshops, free startup templates to help you grow your business.
If you know exactly who you are looking for, then you’ll find Founders-nation extremely helpful as it allows you to find co-founders from a specific location with a specific skillset.
The last one that I want to advise you about is Starhawk. It is a platform that creates a community where entrepreneurs and co-founders can meet and discuss their ideas. Starhawk has a search algorithm and filters to make finding a match as easy as possible.
Remember that any business starts with setting goals and building a team. The idea is important, but it is even more important to find your team, especially the right co-founder. Good luck.