I am in my 4th year of startup life, having jumped ship from the tumultuous life of finance. I’ve learned more in these short years, than my whole life, with limitless learnings to come.

Some people seek relationships, secure jobs, ‘reputable’ careers or even high salaries. I’ve experienced them all, left unsatisfied. Until now, I have been lost and uncertain of what to do with my life. All I knew was that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. It was only until I found the co-founder of my dreams, where my passions, mind and clarity all came together.

All I knew was that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Click To Tweet

Over the years I have had my fair share of co-founder stories. I started my very first startup, as a sole founder, which was like going out to sea on a broken boat. Excited for the adventure at first, but soon, lonely, lost and barely able to steer it. Even though I attained $100,000 in investment, I ended up returning around $55,000 back to the investor as I knew that no matter how much backing I had, I was never going to make it by myself. As an amateur sole founder, it was just too hard.

I had joined forces with a talented iOS developer for my next venture, to create a fitness community app. I quickly realised that he had no passion for the idea, prompting me to drop focus on the startup. I wasn’t going to waste any more time trying to build a company by myself. I was on the hunt for a great team. I ended up winning Sydney Startup Weekend with a group of guys, to create a cool social app. Unfortunately, there were conflicting visions which caused the team to stall and divide quickly.

Finally, I connected with an awesome Android developer. We got along, had similar views and ended up creating a beacon based competition app service. We were getting traction with clients and had some big prospects in the pipeline. However, we soon discovered our visions and dreams were not the same. We both lost interest and threw in the towel, despite the promise we were experiencing.

I then spent just over 2 years working at General Assembly and developed a newfound appreciation of education. Although the company was doing amazing things, I felt like there was so much more opportunity to add purpose to education. To educate with meaning and thought, to really make an impact in the world.

Although the company was doing amazing things, I felt like there was so much more opportunity Click To Tweet

It was only until I met the co-founder I never knew existed – but always hoped and aspired to find – did this vision become what we now call Academy Xi. Together, Charbel and I founded Academy Xi (pronounced ex-eye), a digitally focused education campus that provides custom learning for teams and career-transforming courses for individuals. Open to anyone wanting to expand their knowledge and skills in design, business and technology. Our true vision, however, is to empower people with skills to make positive social impact and collectively change the world.

What I learned through building up Xi is; when visions and perspectives align, everything aligns. After working with Charbel for only 3 months (at the time of writing this article) we are now best friends, business partners, brothers and to the startup world; co-founders. Academy Xi has grown beyond us, and has created the strongest bond of trust and cyclical passion. Although we have complementary skills, it’s the fact we see eye to eye, and have the same beliefs that every day is a day of excitement and delight. We also have endless amounts of mutual respect, which breeds trust; a strong component of a great relationship.

Running a startup with a co-founder allows you to live and share your dream every day, and with the right co-founder, can make you unstoppable.

Finding the right co-founder takes time, but here are my top 10 tips I hope will help you find your perfect co-founder:

1. Friendship

Ask yourself, can I spend 3 years on a deserted island with this person? Do I enjoy being with them? A co-founder is someone that is going to ride the ups and downs with you, make sure you can picture spending endless amounts of time with them, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure.

2. Vision

Do you share the same vision? If you don’t have similar perspectives, it’s likely you will experience conflict. When your goals are aligned, there is nothing to stop you both from powering towards success. Different goals can lead you on separate paths. Don’t fall in love with the idea, fall in love with the same vision.

3. Commitment

It’s vital to have both parties fully committed or contributing in a balanced environment. It’s incredibly easy to feel a sense of judgement for thinking your partner is not working hard enough, this can create a sense of bitterness and demotivation. No one wants to feel like they have to drag the other person along. You want to feel stronger together and always know they have your back and you have theirs. This will make the hard times easy and trust me, there will be plenty of times where you will just want to give up.

4. Mutual Respect

Make sure you both have respect for one another, you need to believe your co-founder is amazing. You’re sharing your dreams with them, you should motivate and believe in each other. This is more powerful than you can imagine. “You create your own reality with love and wisdom always”. If you believe in each other, you will create the reality of your company’s success.

5. Trust

Can you trust this person, does it feel right in your gut? Distrust is contagious. Transparency is key and will make everything smoother from completing your shareholder agreements, to actioning expenses. Worrying will only be a blockage and prevent progress. No one wants to live with the feeling that their partner could screw them over, or that you can’t rely on them.

6. Criticism

Can your co-founder take constructive feedback? Do they acknowledge, absorb and action, or do they ignore? You no longer have a boss or peers. If you can’t help each other improve, then no one can. Give up now, if they repel your advice.

7. Passion: Sharing the wins

What makes your co-founder excited? Do they jump up and down when you have a small win, or do they say “that’s cool” and get back to work? Remember, part of the process is the adrenaline that drives you further. You don’t want to get upset because your partner is emotionless towards your excitement. Ride the momentum to success.

8. Complimentary Skills

You need to be stronger together, make sure that your skills or capabilities are not too similar. Be diverse and work autonomously “to get shit done”. But you also don’t want to be stepping on each other’s toes. Make sure that between you and your co-founder, you have the majority of the capabilities to execute your idea.

9. Clarity: Have the Talk

Make sure your co-founder knows what the agreement is from the start. Ensure you measure your commitments and expectations. Who puts in and gets what; equity, time, money, etc. Are you willing to quit your jobs and when?

10: Personal Values and Beliefs

If you have the same core values, then no matter what you do, a resolution will always be seamless. Be authentic to your values and ensure that you both have similar core beliefs.

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I would love to hear your co-founder stories. Reach out if you need a sounding board!

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