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What's more important in a cofounder, trust or their subject matter expertise?

In the process of choosing a tech co-founder, what's more important for the success of the endeavor: trust in the co-founder or their expertise?

31 Replies

Alison Lewis
9
0
Alison Lewis Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO/Creative Director
Trust and problem solving go a lot further than just skills. You hire skills, you build something together with a co-founder. If I could write this in stone and hand it too you I would.

That said, having had the experience of having a co-founder that had all the passion, work ethic and trust and not the skill set, that didn't work out either. So, there is a balance. I mean you won't know everything either and co-founding requires skills you didn't even know you need and you need them fast - so adaptability is key.

You'll have to find out what skills they lack and they will need to do a lot more than just "tech" stuff if they are going to be your co-founder. It also matters what you are building.

I've worked with beginner electrical engineers that were awesome very trustworthy and hands on. They would figure stuff out. They were 10x better than the guy with experience and argued every 5 minutes about "his way." We got to MVP and shipped 25 samples, there was one costly mistake, but nothing worse than working with an expert you don't trust and can't talk too.
Michael (Meir) Silver
5
0
Michael (Meir) Silver Entrepreneur • Advisor
President at Molecular Innovations Technology
If you cannot trust a partner or co-worker, then it's time to find another partner or co-worker, no matter how smart he/she is. If I need to verify every statement, double-check the integrity of their work, then you are wasting precious time. Quirks and eccentricities in behavior can be dealt with; a consistent lack of integrity is a show-stopper. Sincerely, Meir Silver Sent from my BlackBerry smartphone from orange
Mash Bonigala
0
5
Mash Bonigala Advisor
Founder & CEO at SpellBrand.com
It depends. If tech is critical to your venture then you would need to bring in the tech expert with plenty of caveats and legal support in place to make sure your trust issues don't come back to bite you. I think all the trust in the world wont help a venture if there is no expertise - especially when it comes to tech.
Michael (Meir) Silver
6
1
Michael (Meir) Silver Entrepreneur • Advisor
President at Molecular Innovations Technology
I totally disagree with you. No one, without exception, is irreplaceable. When faced with a talented individual who cannot be trusted, the you say, "next!". There are too many talented individuals with integrity to waste time with dishonest experts. Meir Silver Sent from my BlackBerry smartphone from orange
Alex M Kim
0
0
Alex M Kim Entrepreneur
Tech @ Chatgrid
I think it's trust matter. start up life is long term project there are a lot of ups and downs.
I think trust is important than just subject matter expertise. (by the way, I am from technology side)

There are many things tech co-founder should be good at but at least, 1) seeing gaps, patterns behind customer's problem/issue description 2) clarify and really understand problems 3) diligently and creatively working toward to find solutions.

By the way, will he lead engineering team? ...

Alan Clayton
2
0
Alan Clayton Advisor
Roaming Mentor @ SOSV
Trust is the essential ingredient. You can't buy it,and it takes a long time to build it. When its gone, everything else goes with it.
Skills can be developed overnight (relatively) by nearly anyone - you get a certificate, you have a list of achievements - but that's history, and no guarantee the person will apply those skills 100% tomorrow for your company.
Skills are also transitory and depreciate in value - trust lasts and is an asset.

Andrew Crump
3
3
Andrew Crump Advisor
CEO of Mitoo, Advisor to some Startups
The question is a logical fallacy.

Both are fundamentally important, so it is irrelevant which is more.
Frank Devin
0
0
Frank Devin Entrepreneur
Specialist in Business Development, Sales & Product Marketing at Startups & Entrepreneurial Enterprises
SME is crucial and you can legislate trust into an agreement. However if your gut tells you that the other party is untrustworthy, stop and don't go forward.
Michael (Meir) Silver
1
0
Michael (Meir) Silver Entrepreneur • Advisor
President at Molecular Innovations Technology
You can't have one without the other (need both or there's no co-founder). Meir Sent from my BlackBerry(R) smartphone from orange
Triin Linamagi
1
0
Triin Linamagi Advisor
Startups, Digital Strategy & Brand Awareness
When choosing a cofounder you should think about quite a few points here: do you have the same level of commitment? same visions about the growth (building an empire or lifestyle business)? do you have different skillsets?
Trust and expertise are both important. Can't do one without the other. At a minimum a startup needs 2 people - one who builds a product and the other who sells the product. That would be ideal duo to start with.
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