Why You Should Treat Your Search for Co-founders Like Dating


How finding a co-founder and meeting your spouse can be strikingly similar experiences.

By Kristy Kim (Founder & CEO, DearMissJ)

I never dreamed of running a fashion e-commerce company with four male founding members. I dated each one very carefully and married all of them. It just so happened that way and it has been absolutely amazing.

No, I didn’t actually date them. But it was a similar courting period. And once we decided to found a company together, it was if we entered into a marriage.

Here’s how I met my co-founders, dated around and ultimately put a proverbial ring on it.

How did I Encounter my Dates?

I met my co-founders through a friend, a family introduction and at a startup event. When I tell people that I didn’t have to pay any developers to build products because I have technical co-founders, people would say “Oh! You are SO LUCKY.” I'd answer nonchalantly, “Yes, surely I am lucky.”

But the truth is, I was looking for technical co-founders for three entire years. In the past, although I had full-time jobs, I knew I was interested in the e-commerce sector, and wanted to build something. I taught myself basic skills and finally got to the level where I could understand enough to speak with developers and differentiate between good and bad developers.

As of now, my three years of learning and effort paid off. I met two intelligent web developers (Cornell CS graduates who were graduate school roommates), and not too long after, I met a kick-ass app developer (MIT graduate, genius iOS guy). I sold them my idea and they became my co-founders.

What do you Need to Know Before 'Marriage'?

First, dating doesn’t guarantee marriage. You may work on something together and win a hackathon together, but that doesn’t guarantee that you both will co-found a company together.

Second, love at first sight works, sometimes. One of my co-founders decided to work with me after one dinner meeting.

Finally, timing is everything. All of my co-founders were looking for a new opportunity before I pitched my idea.

Are my Relationships Happy?

DearMissJ launched its iOS app and website last year. Last night, I was writing an email to the entire team (now, we have seven people in total). I wrote a long email sharing updates.

At the end of the email, I wrote “Thank you everyone, I am totally blessed to have you guys around me.” And it hit me, “Wow, I do have so many talented people who believe in me, and I love working with them.” It was the best feeling I’ve had since the moment I finished the incorporation of my company.

Tips for Finding Mr (or Ms) Right

I found co-founders by always keeping an eye out. When I met someone I liked, I would aggressively sell them on joining my team.

In SF, the top talent developers are always poached by recruiters, or already working on their own ideas. I had to convince them that I had a cooler idea and that I was the best person to work with to execute the idea. I feel blessed to have talented, hard-working and cool guys as my co-founders.

Just like any other married couple, we may fight a lot, but I know I picked the right guys.

How did you "just know" you'd found the right co-founder?

Photo credit: Minerva Studio via Shutterstock.

About the guest blogger: Kristy Kim is the founder of DearMissJ, and iOS mobile shopping app for women’s jewelry. DearMissJ offers only one-of-a-kind handmade designer jewelry items from Seoul, South Korea. As an investment banker and VC, Kristy sifted through her jewelry each morning wondering “Is this work appropriate? Too aggressive? Too blinged out?” DearMissJ’s mission is to bring stylish accessorizing back to busy women.