In a past life, I was lucky enough to be a Director of a chapter of the Founder Institute. I ran the program here in Perth for a little over 2 years, but had to make the hard call to step back from it when I became co-founder of\u00a0Appbot. Last night I attended the first event run by the new FI Directors.\r\nThey had full house of budding entrepreneurs. Over a glass of wine I chatted with about a dozen attendees at the end of the event and one theme came up over and over\u2026\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nHow do you find your perfect co-founder?\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFinding the right co-founder is really hard to do, and as one of the few entrepreneurs I know with a really epic co-founder relationship I found myself thinking about it throughout the rest of the evening. As our company,\u00a0Appbot, has been growing I have been really feeling the true value of working with Stu. We\u2019ve got each others\u2019 backs, and stressful as it all is, it\u2019s amazing fun too.\r\nLast night I was reminded how rare this is\u2026 Had I stacked the deck in my favour somehow in order to partner with\u00a0Stu\u00a0on\u00a0Appbot? Was it just amazing luck? Could I figure out any replicable things that other founders could try, in order to improve their own odds of finding the best person to work with? Given that I now have that glorious thing, 20\/20 hindsight, how could someone else test whether their co-founder relationship was going to be awesome?\r\n16 hours later and this post is just bubbling out of me.\r\nI have to share it.\r\nToday.\r\nSo here goes\u2026\r\n\r\nTest #1: Do you trust each other?\r\nIf the answer is anything other than an unequivocal \u201cyes\u201d, you should be reconsidering working with this person. You should be able to answer this question in a nanosecond. Hesitation is your enemy, gut-instinct is your friend.\r\n\r\nTest #2: Do you laugh at each others\u2019 jokes?\r\nStartups are hard, even when they\u2019re easy. There will be days where you feel overwhelmed, exhausted, confused, lost or demoralised, and on those days laughter is your bestie, believe me. Being able to lighten the mood for each other is, IMHO, an invaluable trait.\r\n\r\nTest #3: Do you have BIG respect for their previous work?\r\nThis isn\u2019t just about the work itself, although that\u2019s important. What did the people that worked with them previously think about working with your co-founder? Try to focus on non-verbal queues here\u200a\u2014\u200awhen your co-founder came up in conversation with people who\u2019ve worked with him or her before, did the commentary feel warm and respectful? There\u2019s a lot of temptation to focus on what the other person can do but HOW they did it, in the interpersonal sense, is probably more important if you\u2019re going to have a really positive co-founder relationship.\r\n\r\nTest #4: How do you compare on risk aversion?\r\nIf you\u2019re a mid-spectrum kind of person, you probably want to find a co-founder who is similar. If, like me, you\u2019re relatively comfortable with risk, I recommend working with a co-founder who is more conservative and vice versa. Stu and I balance each other really well on risk, and it gives me multiples of confidence that we make better decisions together.\r\n\r\nTest #5: Are your personal situations similar?\r\nThis test is about empathy; about being able to understand each others\u2019 personal challenges, strengths, priorities. Personally, I reckon having a co-founder whose personal relationship is in good shape is pretty important\u200a\u2014\u200ahappiness at home is contagious, and in my experience the reverse can also be true. If kids are part of the picture for you, having a co-founder who also has those kinds of responsibilities is really awesome (and provides a heap of solid material for point #2 \u263a ).\r\n\r\nTest #6: Are your skills complementary?\r\nBeing awesome at really diverse stuff is a big advantage\u200a\u2014\u200aif you each have different strengths your company will thrive on multiple fronts and you\u2019ll be happy working on different aspects of the business simultaneously. That\u2019s not to say you can\u2019t both love some of the same stuff, just not ALL the same stuff. Make sure you know what kinds of things your co-founder procrastinates over, and check that list against your own. Overlaps on the \u201cstuff I put off\u201d list are best avoided.\r\n\r\nTest #7: How does your co-founder cope with stress?\r\nArguably the hardest thing to make a judgement on when you first start to work with someone, but a factor you can\u2019t afford to ignore. In situations where you don\u2019t have first-hand experience of your co-founder under stress, think about whether you know anything about how they\u2019ve handled really stressful stuff in the past\u200a\u2014\u200awar stories they\u2019ve shared, or personal stories. Past colleagues often give you clues about this too.\r\n\r\nTest #8: Are you like-minded on big issues like employee equity,\u00a0fundraising and exit strategy?\r\nWhen Stu and I decided to work together we talked about these issues and many others to see if there was any area where we had a major disconnect. These big philosophical points don\u2019t \u201cjust work themselves out\u201d, and they have the potential to derail your working relationship and therefore your company if you really, deeply disagree on them. If you\u2019re raising money or negotiating an exit you\u2019ll be stressed, overworked, and not in a position to focus on working these things through, so make it a priority at the beginning.\r\n\r\nTest #9: What are the lines of communication like when you disagree?\r\nI think communicating in the face of disagreement is something very personal. Basically, you need to be able to do this without upsetting or offending each other, and my take is that having a similar communication style makes that more likely. I think that the first point about trust also relates to how your disagreements play out; if you have a high level of confidence in the other person it will make it easier to trust in the absolute validity of the other person\u2019s point of view, and go with their preference over your own when you need to. It also means you move on quickly, and trust me, you\u2019ll be too busy to want to dwell on anything too long!\r\n\r\nTest #10: How do you each feel about documenting\u00a0your working relationship?\r\nA willingness to write stuff down is not to be underestimated. After all, if you plan to behave honourably towards the other person, why wouldn\u2019t you be happy to have that documented? Steer clear of \u201cgentlemen\u2019s agreements\u201d (urgh, so sexist!) and \u201chandshake\u201d arrangements. Personally, I\u2019ve found those things to be code for \u201cnon-commitments\u201d \u263a\r\n\r\nTest #11: Are you equally passionate about the product?\r\nStartups exist to solve problems, usually complex ones, in new ways. If you\u2019re going to solve a difficult problem together, you\u2019d best be passionate about the subject matter.\r\n\r\nTest #12: What\u2019s the vibe like when you work together?\r\nDeciding to become someone\u2019s co-founder is a massive call. Like getting married, in a lot of (way less romantic) ways. Becoming a co-founder deserves a test-drive, at least. Working together for even just a few days will not only give you insight into the other person\u2019s work ethic and how productive you are together, but it\u2019ll help you get a gut feel for whether you have a good time hanging out. If you feel like you\u2019re making better decisions by working together, consider it a really good sign. If you really look forward to going to grab some lunch and chatting, even better. Enjoying each other\u2019s company is key, you\u2019re gonna be spending a lot of hours together.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWhat if you\u2019re struggling to find this mythical creature, the Perfect Co-founder?\r\nClearly, it\u2019s not so easily done. If it were, organisations like Founder Dating just wouldn\u2019t exist. Being a digital marketer, you won\u2019t be surprised to hear that I think finding your ideal co-founder is a numbers game. I\u2019ve got two pieces of advice to offer here\u2026\r\nFirstly, meet as many people as you can, and don\u2019t expect meeting the right co-founder to happen quickly. It took me 3 years, and I know many who have taken longer. Hang out with people who know a lot of people. Go to tech events (and enjoy this bit while it lasts\u200a\u2014\u200aonce you\u2019re head down on your startup you\u2019ll probably be too focussed to maintain the same level of involvement), do some Startup Weekends, and keep half an eye on social media.\r\nSecondly, look for opportunities to lead something, anything, in your local startup ecosystem. Taking a visible lead on a project makes it more likely that smart, motivated, experienced people will seek you out, and that makes the first point a lot easier. For me, running a chapter of The Founder Institute in a city with a small, nascent entrepreneurial community made all the difference. I didn\u2019t meet Stu directly through Founder Institute, but I did meet the person that introduced us that way.\r\nSo that\u2019s it\u200a\u2014\u200aI feel lighter!\r\nThanks to\u00a0@stuartkhall\u00a0for being my co-founding muse, as it were. Thanks also to those Founder Institute attendees last night for the inspiration.\r\n\r\nPlease share or hit recommend if you found this helpful.