More Than Just Speed Dating for Co-Founders: Startup Monthly

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By Vadim Slavin (Program Content Manager, Startup Monthly) Working with your co-founder is often likened to marriage. You are bound to spend so much time together on your new startup that it's no wonder the metaphor comes to mind. You are rearing your baby (idea) and often worry about your budget (budget). The parallel goes on and on.

If so much depends on finding a good partner, how do you choose one? Well, one way is to go on many dates and test the waters, get to know people, try to imagine what it would be like working together. Well, easier said than done.

Surely, those of us with better soft, business skills can mingle, go out to lunches, happy hours and otherwise engage others. Those with even more knowledge of human psyche know which questions to ask and buttons to push to burrow past the initial impression. This is quite important because once the pressures of deadlines and co-founder discourse creep in, people drop their social masks and show the real selves. This could either be liberating or deadly for a young and fragile startup.

The other bunch of us is engineers. We make great co-founders and wear many hats early on: architects, SW or HW engineers, code monkeys. This expertise comes at a price of, let's face it, lower social IQ. We tend to be introverted and find it to be an effort to engage many people socially for extended periods of time. This is not a deficiency by any means, however, acknowledging this nature is important. Learning how different people react to the world makes us better professionals and better members of our own social and professional eco systems.

If only there was a structured way to get to know your potential teammates.... Lean startup methodology teaches to us fail early and fail often. What can we learn from this approach when testing the social waters? One's resume is not enough. Even recommendations of others are not sufficient in judging how YOU will work with this person on a real project.

This is why it is time to do things a bit differently. Instead of a lunch date, what if we go on a play date? What if we can play pretend and imagine for a half an hour we are working on our idea together with like-minded strangers. What if we switch the teams each half hour and get to know a whole other bunch of people in a fun yet revealing light. This is the idea behind Startup Monthly's Ice Breaker event.

The ice breaker is there to ... well, break the ice and make it easier for people to meet each other. Making it fund and engaging is a must. Otherwise, it's summer camp all over again. Once the formalities are out of the way, we play a series of games, each time with a different set of participants. The games are not just fun -- they stress competiveness and create opportunities for problem solving. This is a better way to get a glimpse of your future teammates, co-founders, and perhaps even friends.

Furthermore, these games are designed to teach something you can use, be that teamwork, leadership, adapting to change or even the basics of entrepreneurship. Just half a day and you get to meet a horde people in a real yet fun professional setting. Who knows, perhaps when a bunch of you are ringing the closing bell on Wall street, you will think back on the time you were lucky to meet at the Ice Breaker and not awkwardly at a noisy cafe on University Ave.

If this sounds interesting, we are excited to invite you and your friends to Startup Monthly's Ice Breaker & Team Building Event which will take place on August 28 in AOL offices, Palo Alto, from 9am to 4:30pm (395 Page Mill Rd).

RSVP for the Ice Breaker & Team Building Event on Aug 28 ($15 early bird first 70 tickets, $30 after): Ice Breaker -- RSVP here.

During this event, you will be able to pitch your startup idea, form a team after participating in various team-building activities, and apply for our Idea Accelerator Program #2.

Photo credit: Brian Solis Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.