How I found a great startup co-founder… in Egypt



Lately I see so many entrepreneurs looking for a co-founder. Especially a tech one. You are probably in this “co-founder search mode” too. Boy, it’s not easy! He/ she needs to have the right expertise, be a good match, believe in the business and be a “job dropout” up for the startup journey.

Available options? Search inside friends and colleagues circles, search at startup events and post announcements on job boards. After trying the first two options myself, I discovered a much better alternative. If you are in this “co-founder search mode”, you might find this useful.

Hide and Seek – How to find a co-founder

Do you remember the saying: “Chances are you are not the only one with this idea in the world”? Well, here is the key.

Instead of feeling at war with all those trying to pursue the same ambition as you, why not search for those that have the same vision and are open for expanding their founding team? Of course, you need those that you are complementary with, in terms of what you can bring to the table.

I discovered this alternative by chance. I am now happily working on splinter.me with my tech co-founder, Ahmed, that I’ve found through a less predictable way.

After I have flirted with the idea of a revolutionary recruitment platform for a while, one day I decided to quit being an employee for a living, to quit my other entrepreneurial inceptions (one of them another startup in recruitment) and just pursue my big dream – this vision of helping people showcase their true talents and matching them with work opportunities that really fit them, and thus helping recruiters be faster and better at hiring.

Luckily, I decided to make just one more stop before trying to find a tech co-founder and start working seriously on it. I dedicated 3 months for interviewing founders and investors about how to run a business in its beginnings and then writing a book based on the discoveries. A few of the interviewees were founders of recruitment startups. And one of them was him!

I found Ahmed on AngelList and I approached him for an interview for my book. During the call, I was shocked by the coincidence in what the two of us want to pursue, in how we want to do it and by our complementary backgrounds. He was already working full time for 3 months on it and had developed a web platform with a few features that was online in public beta. And, most importantly, he was looking for a business co-founder. Match made in heaven!

But here came a challenge: we were 5000 km apart. I was living in Belgium, he was living in Egypt.

Truth or Dare – How to work remotely

Not knowing each other from before and living on two different continents implied a lot of risk in joining forces, indeed. That is why we decided to have a trial period of working together. Everything went great with the trial and two months later, we officially joined forces. The magic happened 4 months ago. And we are still working remotely.

This requires an appropriate attitude and adequate tools. The tools part is easy – there are plenty of them. But the attitude makes the difference. Here are our ingredients for succeeding in working remotely:

  • We are almost always available for each other. We get replies from each other very quickly. We talk daily. Some days we spend hours together. I’ve been in remote teams before and noticed that broken communication can definitely kill the team.
  • We are very open and honest with each other. Might sound complicated, but we found that we are two very straight-forward people by nature. The secret is to always ask instead of making assumptions.
  • We are matching personalities. Oh well, we work in recruitment, so we had ways to assess this (and our platform will help others check team matching too).

In the end, why not working remotely when running a global business? We have beta users from 49 countries on 6 continents, we have our first strategic partnership with a company in Argentina, our Business Angel lives in the US etc. So at the end of the day, most of the work in a global startup would still happen online/ remote.
Remote happily ever after?

It is easier and cheaper for us to work remotely for now. With the money from our first business angel and saving through our remote working, we were able to invest in hiring first, and we added a great talent to our team a few weeks ago. Marwan works with Ahmed in Egypt for the moment.

But our plan is to move together in a startup hub as soon as we have consistent investment. Or at least start in an accelerator. Expanding the team will require us to be next to the employees and set up a cool organizational culture for the startup to thrive.

Feature photo credit: Egyptian highway, Daveness_98, Flickr

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About the author

Adelina Peltea

Adelina is Co-Founder of social recruiting platform splinter.me and author of Customer Seduction, a book for tech startups at pre-seed and seed stage. You can follow Adelina on Twitter.

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