December 20, 2022

7 Dos and Don’ts of Choosing (And Keeping) A Co-founder

Eva Medved

Through the story of how Victor Chapela and Shai Rozen, founder and co-founder of Suggestic, met, developed a close professional and personal relationship, and grew the company from a direct-to-consumer app to a prime technology enabler for other companies in the health and nutrition space, we explore some dos and don’ts of working in this kind of duo.

Click here to listen to Victor and Shai discuss the challenges and joys of a co-founder relationship on the Building Health Solutions podcast.

A co-founder is a member of the executive team who has been on board of the company since it was just an ambitious idea.

 Having co-founders can yield great results for companies due to:

  • a shared vision and passion
  • a variety of skill sets that can be applied to different areas even before the first specialized employees are hired
  • solutions from different perspectives and viewpoints

Whether the company will blossom more with a solo founder or a whole team of passionate co-founders is largely dependent on personality. Some people prefer to work on their idea alone and keep more control of how the company develops, while others thrive with continuous input from others.

Here are the seven key elements that Victor and Shai discovered about why their relationship is so successful in the course of their conversation.

1. Do go with the flow when choosing a co-founder

Victor and Shai met while mentoring other startups. They realized they were both working with artificial intelligence in their previous companies. At the time, they were both also just selling these companies. The fact they were both free and being interested in the same thing led them to looking for opportunities and figuring out what can be done together.

Some famous co-founder duos were classmates such as Paul Allen and Bill Gates of Microsoft or Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard of HP, or family, such as brothers-in-law William Proctor and James Gamble of Proctor & Gamble. The common thread is that most of them found each other through a shared passion rather than a job listing.

2. Do share a vision

Feeling driven towards the same vision of what the future could look like is the key element for growing a business. It’s important to agree on whether you’re trying to scale to a multibillion-dollar company as quickly as possible or to slowly work on a lifestyle brand. This will set a pace that is sustainable for every stakeholder.

A shared vision is twofold:

  1. how you envision the world to be in 10, 20, or 30 years, and how your company fits into that vision
  2. how you plan to get there (deciding on concrete steps and management styles, e.g., traditional funding or bootstrapping, B2B or B2C)

While the co-founders might have different starting visions or they might change with time, it’s very important to recalibrate them to match. This vision is the north star, or guiding, metric for everything you do.

3. Don’t choose a co-founder with completely different lifestyle and values

Out of the many co-founders Victor and Shai have had, they only point out very few as “bad”, and these unsuccessful relationships all share a common disparity in lifestyle, habits, or values.

Victor recalls an experience of co-founding a business with somebody who was a college student, while he had already dropped out. While one of them was putting all his time and energy into the business, the other one only had a small amount of energy, time, and motivation left in the evenings after classes.

Shai remembers a similar situation where the difference in lifestyle made him unable to work with a friend. His co-founder wanted to live the kind of startup lifestyle where you wake up late, code until 5 in the morning, eat instant ramen, and not pay yourself anything, while Shai wanted a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. The decision to not work together, in this case, helped them stay friends to this day.

4. Do choose a co-founder with a complimentary set of skills

Having a complimentary set of skills will proveof the two co-founders proves to be more useful for the growth of the business. If co-foundersthey share the same set of skills, they may co-founders will clash on how to execute certain tasks, instead of building something bigger with their combined knowledge.

5. Do trust your co-founder

Trust, like in any relationship, is the building block of fruitful collaboration. This means trusting each other to be able to be very direct and respecting the other’s reaction.. This also means trusting each other that you are as serious about this venture as the other co-founder. And, finally, it means not hiding and concealing things from each other.

6. Don’t strive to split everything 50-50

One of the most common mistakes co-founders do is trying to split everything 50-50. It generates a tit-for-tat that can end up being detrimental forto the business – suing each other or losing the company instead of successfully growing it.

While iIt’s important to consciously define roles in the company  early on. Despite having defined roles (let’s say one co-founder is the CEO and the other CPO), it is also crucial important to be able to dynamically change hats especially in the early stages, help each other make decisions, and share responsibility.

7. Do self-direct and take responsibility

While this comes last on list, it is possibly the most important entrepreneurial quality for co-founders to share. A self-directed person makes their own decisions and organizes their own work rather than being told what to do by others or by a his co-founder. Self-direction offloads some responsibility and decision making fatigue foroff the other co-founder, freeing up theirhis time for creative solution solving and planning.


It’s not easy to find a good co-founder, so once you do, it’s important to appreciate the value of that relationship. Click here to get more insight on why Victor and Shai’s partnership is so successful.

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