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What/How to think when seeking remote co-founders in general and in other countries in particular?

I'm currently looking to find remote co-founders mainly from the US or the UK for a venture I started. I have come to realize that I won't be able to pull this off myself since I'm residing in Sweden and the product is mainly designed for the US market and/or the UK market. So I'm facing the problem of needing to find a remote co-founder that is likely to reside in another country.


What is there to think of in this situation? What problems are likely to occure being co-founders residing in different countries? What is the best way to find a suitable remote co-founder? Does anyone have experiences from similar situations?


Personally I have experience from running a quite successful business venture together with a remote co-founder for about 8 years. But in that case we knew each other from the university and we were both from Sweden and lived about 3-4 hours by car from each other. During that time we met in person about 2-3 times a year, but we had more or less daily contact online.


But now I'm looking to find a co-founder that I haven't met in person before and I might not even be able to meet this person in person before starting the partnership since we'll most likely be residing in countries far apart. I'm quite flexible in how to work it out, but I won't be able to move from Sweden.


In my case I have an already developed product that is ready to launch. So the competence of the co-founders I'm looking for should be mainly in marketing rather than being technical co-founders. Does this aspect make it easier to work as remote co-founders or not?


From my previous experience I think it has worked very well to run a business with a remote co-founder. But when I have hired remote consultants or remote freelancers to get help to develop a design or a software then it has often been problematic to strive in the same direction and get a desired result. That makes me think that is harder to work together during development.


I'm looking forward to hear your thoughts about this issue.

14 Replies

Max Loukianov
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Max Loukianov Entrepreneur
CTO and Co-Founder at Gimme!
I had a very successful experience working with the other co-founder remotely for about 5 years. First time we saw each other in person was about 3 years down the road; I was in Texas, he was in Philadelphia which is about 3,5 hours by plane. There was pretty much daily phone calls, emails, Yahoo chats during those 5 years. Ended up building a company in healthcare informatics space from the ground up. Let me know if I can answer any more questions about my experiences.
Charles Kraus
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Charles Kraus Advisor
Senior Product Marketing Manager at Limelight Networks
Par - Good morning. Some quick thoughts... I have had the experience of co-founding a company that was based in Vienna Austria, and was expanding into the US market. To succeed in the US they needed a small team based here. The process started when I met one of the Vienna founders at a cocktail party, and had a discussion about their business. Three of the founders were in the US to find and recruit someone to be the US based founder and develop the business in the US. I met with them in NY for a few days discussing approaches for the US market, and we decided to go forward with my joining their team. I think what you will need to do is use both the Founderdating network and maybe post the opportunity is the popular career sites in the US such as Indeed.com and Beyond.com. As this is a start up situation, there is a site here called startuphire.com that is a match making site for start up companies and people who want to join a start up. Obviously you need to find someone with experience starting up a similar Web or eCommerce business, Social Media skills, lots of self initiative and drive to succeed. I cannot judge your comfort level with partnering with someone without meeting them in person, or asking someone you know meet with them. Regarding the best way to manage the remote situation, what worked well for my situation with the Vienna company was daily communication of activity, frequent conference calls to discuss strategy and tactics, 2 or 3 times per year we would meet in person - I would go to Vienna for a week 2X per year, and some of the Vienna team would come to the US once per year. Charlie Kraus
BELLA BELGAROKOVA
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BELLA BELGAROKOVA Entrepreneur
Co Founder at DigitLab London
I think that depends much from the person you find, today we have so much different tech stuff that permit to organize remote work perfectly, so the man factor for me is the most important one in this question

Karl Schulmeisters
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Karl Schulmeisters Entrepreneur
CTO ClearRoadmap

most European startups that want to move to the USA that I know of, first develop the product here to the MVP level. Then they themselves move to the USA.

The other model that is reliable is that they build a product that is self-sustaining in the EU and then open a branch or division in North Am. This is the Phillips, BMW model

The third is to build a successful company here in the EU and then buy a smaller company in the US doing similar things.

Yes the fourth would be to find a US CoFounder. but since it is YOUR idea and not theirs - why would a truly motivated co-founder come on board? What are you really looking for? a US CoFounder or a US Sales branch?

Judit Fabian
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Judit Fabian Entrepreneur
Seasoned Finance Professional
Hi Par, I can relate to your issue, although my situation is a bit different. You don't really know whether the co-founder is the right one until you do some work with them. You might want to try out a couple of candidates on a project basis. That is what I have done, and I have to say I avoided some mistakes by getting insight into what they are really good at, whether there is a good working relationship, and whether it is a good match for your venture. I would like to say that it is more ideal to get introduced to good people by someone you know, but there is a reason why I am on Founder-dating - sometimes you run out of people who come with trusted recommendations and are available to work with you.

I do share the caution of some of the previous comments: you should have a good foundation in your home base before you set out to take your business overseas and take on a co-founder in another country. Inter-continental communication can be very challenging.

Also, you should be very specific about what you are looking for in a person, and what kind of structure you have in mind for the business relationship.

I hope this helps.
Liam Carolan
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Liam Carolan Advisor
Marketing Technologist
I will assume (safely) that Jumblets is the company you're presently speaking of. Regional and local strategic partnerships are critical to your growth and will mean the difference between mediocre performance or astounding results. I'd like to chat more with you about your growth strategy using remote co-founders and see if perhaps there's a fit.
Gil Allouche
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Gil Allouche Entrepreneur
Founder @ Metadata
Hi Par, Since you already have the product developed and you're looking the a co founder with business acumen who can penetrate the US market, I'd propose the following: 1.Build a profile of how that co founder looks like (age, sex, education, domain expertise) 2.go on LinkedIn and find that person (they may be working for a competitor of that new venture you're starting, maybe in sales, biz dev, marketing - maybe they recently left that company) 3.setup 10 skype calls- narrow down to 2-3 finalists 4.go to the U.S. and meet them (I believe that a physical chemistry meeting is a must) Decide on a comp plan: 1.how much equity are you willing to give 2.what kpis or goals are set in place? 3.how do you vest the equity (1 year cliff etc)
Katie Pang
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Katie Pang Entrepreneur • Advisor
Financial Advisor at Aegon
Hi Par, that's a topic I'm wondering about too. There is another discussion that I found great insights from that is similar to what you are asking regarding a remote cofounder.http://members.founderdating.com/discuss/683/Thoughts-on-remote-co-founders
It's best to search your topic before posting, the answer you are looking for may already be available.


Pär Iwarson
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Pär Iwarson Entrepreneur
Öppen för förslag - Erfaren och kreativ IT-entreprenör, projektledare, affärsutvecklare och systemutvecklare
Thanks for all the comments. I really appreciate your input. I will try to comment on some of your comments. :)

@Max
Well it sounds like you had about the same good experience as I did. Just wondering how you found your remote co-founder?

@Charles
My comfort level with partnering with someone without meeting them in person is quite big. I used to run a pretty big gaming site/community previously where I devoloped some very strong relationship with some users that turned into support crew with quite vast responsibilities. A couple of these I met in person later on. But I could very well have been feeling comfortable starting a partnership with these people without meeting them in person. The best is of course if I could meet the potential co-founder in person before starting a joint business. My experience is that the tools available today makes it possible to learn to know each other quite well without meeting in person. Did you face any problems with business laws or such? Was the company Austrian or American? Does that matter?


@Karl
Well in my case the situation is a result from a couple of miscalculations taking my previous venture in mind. My previous venture was an online game with a vast community with players from all over the world and we never felt the need to be present in any of the countries we had players in. My new venture is a different business and I have come to realize the need of being present in the countries that we want to approach or at least have co-founders with network in these countries. Another miscalculation was to think I could run this venture on my own. My co-founder in the previous venture were supposed to be co-founder in the new venture as well but he had to pass due to some personal issues. That way I ended up alone in this venture and that is no fun. The product is actually really good and it's great case. But it has worn me out on the way being too big of a project to pull off on my own. So basically I'm in the situation where I must find some co-founder/co-founders that can see the brilliance in Jumblets to continue. If someone acknowledge an idea as great then I would assume it doesn't matter if it is THEIR idea or not.

@Liam
Yes your assumption is correct. Jumblets is the company in question. I would gladly chat with you about it. :) ...I can send you a pm

@Katie Pang
Yes it's an interesting topic that I think will become more and more common. I did actually notice the discussion "Thoughts on remote co-founders". But since I wanted to hear thoughts about remote co-founders from different countries in particular I decided to start a new discussion. I do think that starting a partnership with someone from another country will impose additional concerns to the issue.


Charles Kraus
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Charles Kraus Advisor
Senior Product Marketing Manager at Limelight Networks
Par - What we did was create a US company incorporated as a subsidiary of the Vienna company. There were no legal problems at all. The major issue I had was the software was designed for the European market and was unsuitable for the US. I specified a re-design of the software based on my discussions with US customers, and had the new software developed here where I could manage the project closely. We were very successful here with the new US software. Interestingly, when the Vienna team looked at my software and showed it to several customers in Europe, they decided to offer it for the European market (we translated all the text screens to several languages) where it did very well there. The point of mentioning this is you will need to test your product with US users early on in case changes need to be made. I strongly agree with the comments of others, especially about specifying what type of skills and domain knowledge you need in your co-founder, and search LinkedIn for people fitting the profile. Charlie
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