Here is another question our team gets asked frequently, “How did you find your co-founders?”. Where we found each co-founder varied based on the position that needed to be filled. Here is how we found our co-founders.
Finding Your First Co-Founder:
Likely to be a Friend & Industry Expert
When EllieGrid CEO, Abe Matamoros, first came up with the idea to build a smart pill box, he started to reach out to friends and family who knew more about the space. Matamoros reached out to Regina Vatterott who was a high school friend that he heard was working for a marketing company called Patient Conversations Media. She worked in marketing, communications and social media management for thousands of independent pharmacies all over the country.
Matamoros reached out to Vatterott because she knew more about the healthcare industry and marketing consumer healthcare products.
Review your old classmates and friends who had similar interests. Most importantly, find someone you trust, is hard working, and self-motivated.
Finding a Chief Product Officer:
Time to Make Friends with the Engineers
While Matamoros and Vatterott were off to a good start with business plans and simple prototypes, they knew that they would need a Chief Product Officer to help them build the hardware. Nic Dhanam and Matamoros had both been NOVA Fellows at the University of Tulsa. The NOVA Fellowship is a community of students “who are interested in innovation, and want to do something truly unique and meaningful in the community.”
Matamoros and Dhanam had worked together in this fellowship and one day Dhanam announced in a meeting that he was looking for a new engineering project to be a part of. Dhanam was studying mechanical engineering at the time and had a background in aerospace engineering working on cost reduction for manufactured parts, a valuable skill in a hardware startup. Since they were both on campus, they could work on prototyping at odd hours throughout the school year.
We suggest you consider looking for a co-founder who is either still in college or is about to graduate. The reason is because these students are the most open to learning new things in their field of study. In our experience, the older engineers we spoke to tended to be more “set in their ways”. When your building a product that requires new technologies, being set in your old ways is not always a good thing. Try personally introducing yourself to the dean of local engineering universities and ask about their top students. Google if there are any local engineering fellowships or clubs with a heavy emphasis on innovation and real world applications.
Finding a Chief Technology Officer:
Since EllieGrid also required electronics, the team needed to find a CTO. The team started networking at tech meetups at Capital Factory in Austin, TX where Vatterott was attending university. Matamoros and Vatterott liked to work in teams of two for a divide and conquer method. Matamoros would typically ask if he could pitch his idea during the meeting and mention that he was looking for a CTO. Vatterott liked to sit in the back and observe the crowd. This helped her spot who seemed most interested so she could introduce herself later in case someone might be too shy.
During a hardware meetup, Vatterott & Matamoros hit things off with Hieu Nguyen. The first conversation starter was that Nguyen was wearing a Monsters Inc. t-shirt. Soon the team realized that Nguyen would be a perfect addition to the team. Nguyen had a background in electrical engineering, IoT, firmware, embedded systems, and software. Jackpot! The best part was (and we would argue the most important part is) that they all got along well. If you cannot get along with a co-founder, you are sure to run into issues down the road.
Find local innovation hubs and co-working spaces that host weekly or monthly meetups in the tech space. If you already have at least one other co-founder, try the “divide and conquer method” described above.
Have any other advice for finding co-founders? We would love to learn about where you found yours so we can include it as an example when people ask our team. Please comment below with your tips!