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The art of (not) picking the right cofounder

Lars Markull
Lars Markull
1 min read

They say picking your cofounder is like picking your spouse and I guess one of the parallels is that many don’t marry their high school love…

I mentioned in my last blog post that I am working on my own FinTech venture. The idea was an online service for SMEs to obtain and manage corporate credit cards. An acquaintance had contacted me a few months before and discussed the problem his company was having with corporate credit cards. We delved into the problem, checked available solutions and decided early this year to build such a service. We made good progress and at the end of April I left figo to focus full time on this idea.

Last week I informed my cofounder-to-be that I will drop out of partnership and not pursue the idea with him together. What happened? I came to the realisation that both of us are not the perfect match required to build a successful startup.

This was not an easy decision. We worked together on this idea for a few months, made good progress and started to get other people involved as well. But recently, it became more and more obvious that sooner or later our relationship will break. It is not that one person was doing something ‘wrong,’ but our mindset and approach to tackle challenges were very different. I had minor doubts already a few months ago, but brushed them away during busy days focusing on product progress. Now it was the last time to pull the trigger and I took some days to focus on research and introspection. My discussions with friends led me to the decision “If it doesn’t feel right, keep looking” (the other two online resources I can recommend are Harvard Business Review and Elad Gil’s blog post on this topic; but discussions with peers were most helpful for me). It would have been easier to just continue, but deep down I knew that he was not the right cofounder for me to develop into the person I want to be in 5-7 years.

At this point of time, I have not yet decided what will be my next step. I still like the problem we were targeting but decided to put the plans on hold. I will be doing more research, help others with their startup and keep looking – who knows, maybe I will find the right co-founder 😉



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