When Your Co-Founder Steps Down

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The thought of not having a co-founder never crossed my mind.

By Karla Amador (Founder & CEO, Event Finds)

She said, “I’m not going to be moving forward with the company.”

My world was suddenly turned upside down.

We launched Event Finds November 2011. I never thought that my co-founder and I would break up.

We stood out at all the tech events we attended, we were one of few women in technology in Orange County, California. I thought our bond was strong. This was our first technology company, and neither of us knew what we were getting ourselves into. I previously owned a service company, but technology – it’s a different beast. The path has been difficult. Painful at times.

At a recent dinner with fellow entrepreneurs, the women consoled me, saying that this was very common in startups.

The thought of not having a co-founder never crossed my mind.

If you find yourself in this very situation you may not know what to do next. If you are not in this situation, you should still consider this a possibility. I have been in the tech startup world for a little less than one year and have seen other start-ups break up and let me tell you, it isn’t pretty. It’s better to be proactive than reactive.

Here are some things to consider during this process.

  1. Take a time-out and reflect on what your next steps will be. Will you move forward with the business? Will you close the business down? – Whatever you decide, don’t make any hasty decisions. Make the decision that you know you will not regret a few years down the line. I decided that I would continue pushing forward, even if it meant this was a set back.
  2. Do not bad mouth your ex co-founder. Believe it or not, it is a small world and the last thing you want is an angry ex-co-founder who can make this process a lot more difficult.
  3. Let’s hope you had an agreement in place before the business was started. If you don’t you’ll need to consult with an attorney, especially if the company has any assets. Both of us had funded the company and we both worked on the business for over a year. Consulting with our attorney was important.
  4. If possible, try to work out a mutually benefiting agreement between you and your ex-co-founder. It will be much more costly if you have to hire lawyers, assessors, etc.
  5. Sign and come to a final agreement.

Once you have come to terms, there is another list of things to do.

Get working on these as soon as the agreement is in place:

  • Change passwords to all accounts (Facebook, Twitter, credit/bank accounts etc.)
  • Remove the ex co-founder from accessing bank accounts. They will most likely need to be present to remove them if they were a signer on the account.
  • Retain and collect property, materials and information from them.
  • Notify customers/partners of the change formally.

There are more steps to take depending on all of the details of your business, but this is a start.

Lastly, there is light at the end of the tunnel. In the beginning you may find it hard to concentrate. You may be in pain and even cry, especially if you and your co-founder worked together for a long time. Breaking up is a hard thing to do. Either way, keep your head held up high and keep working on your business. Remind yourself of the end result. As time goes by things will get easier, I promise.

Just remember “whether you believe you can or you can’t, either way, you’re right.”

Women 2.0 readers: Have any advice for how to break up with your co-founder? Let us know in the comments!

About the guest blogger: Karla Amador is Founder and CEO of Event Finds. Karla started her first business, Amador Events, in 2008. After planning events for more than three years, she recognized a problem in the industry; many vendors had last minute un-booked dates with no way to advertise them. Inspired by this issue she came up with the concept of Event Finds. Karla gets great satisfaction from helping people, she is happy to give vendors and savvy savers a way to connect. Follow her on Twitter at @karlacamador.