Finding your founding team in college

An often overlooked struggle for many college entrepreneurs is the process of building the right founding team. Good founders are not easy to find and, contrary to what many may think, are not easy to find at college.

Colleges and universities are the breeding grounds or knowledge. You are there, hopefully, to learn and grow. They seem, and in many ways are, the perfect place to find partners on projects and to found companies. College students can be extremely focused and driven, yet there are many aspects and characteristics of college students that make it difficult to find the right partners to found your company and pursue your ideas.

In college, there are countless things to distract students from being productive founders of a company. There are lots of parties and there is a lot of school work. The specific school that you attend can often determine the severity of these distractions of school and social life, but they exist at some level at all schools. Many college students are trying to get their school work done so that they can be social- a nice balance. Some are working so hard at school that they cannot be social. A few are putting all of their efforts into their social life and zero into school. Others are not doing much of either- lacking motivation at all levels. You are forced to choose between these four types of students to help you, but three of them do not seem to have the time, and one of them has no motivation whatsoever.

You should look for your founding partners in the first category: those that find a nice balance between school and being social.

The reason you have to choose a partner from those that have a nice balance is that you have to ask people to make sacrifices for your company or idea. Those that have a nice balance show that they are motivated and still have some social life to sacrifice. Those that are only social lack work ethic while those that only do schoolwork cannot possibly be asked to sacrifice their grades and effort toward school.

Now that you are looking for people who find a good balance between schoolwork and their social life, the next question to answer is: Are they willing to sacrifice school, their social life, or sleep/health for their company? And if they are, which of the three are they willing to sacrifice? You do not want a partner that sacrifices either school or their sleep/health, these are both reckless and lead to bad things. Your potential partner will most likely have to sacrifice their social life to some extent to make room for the new company. They will not be able to successfully start a company if they are spending lots of time at parties, giving no effort in school, or losing sleep.

Your co-founder should be someone you enjoy spending time with. They should not be someone you THINK you like spending time with. They should be someone you KNOW you like spending time with. You have to trust them, rely on them, and spend countless hours with. If you don’t like a prospective partner currently, then you REALLY will not like them while working with them.

There are some basic things that you can look out for during the hunt for your co-founder. Look for people who read a lot. Look for people who are heavily involved in extracurricular activities. Look for people who are highly intelligent. Look for people who are easy to get along with. Look for people who can focus deeply on a subject. Most of these types of people tend to be self-motivated, possibly the most important quality in a co-founder.

Finding a co-founder in college is not an impossible task, but it does involve a lot of thought. If you do not put enough thought into the hunt then you are sacrificing your chances of success. Do not rush it. Be smart. Good luck!

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