Original Co-founders aren’t working out. How do I find reliable co-founders?

I started a hardware project a year ago, and as I presented the idea to some people I quickly realized that this has the potential to become a proper business.

I gathered a founding team of four people that appeared to have experience in the fields that I couldn’t cover. In the beginning, everything looked very good and the motivation of everybody was very high.

One year later, we are at least half a year behind the initial schedule and it appears that getting into business requires more effort than expected. Motivation amongst my co-founders moved towards zero and I am the only one still working my ass off.

We now have a chance to receive serious funding and suddenly all my co-founders are back with the motivation to get some money.

In retrospect, I was the only one really working for this startup while everybody else was waiting for me to start generating some money for them. It also seems that I overestimated their experience and they have little to noΒ real expertise in their respective field.

We never signed any contracts (I know, big mistake) but we have some oral agreements. I want to get rid of them but have no idea how this works. Can I just tell them that they are not part of the founding team anymore? Furthermore, I need some new co-founders. How did you guys know that your co-founder was the right person?

  • If you are the original founder, and they have Like No monetary Investments whatsoever i’d Just tell them to fuck off.

      • Kick them anyway. Either you feel supported or not. If not: you gonna end up ruined having opportunists around you.

      • Every employee brings in some ideas. This is normal and no reason to not fire them. The crucial question is: this oral contract you have with them: was it in the sense of “you are an employee and get your salary”, or was it in the sense of “you get very little money, just to cover your food, but you are then holding 20% of the company” ?

  • The thing potential investors like most is consistency and expertise. When first contact has been made and a chance for investments seems realistic, you should not change anything in the team structure at the moment. The better way is to disclose your concerns in a private meeting with the investor, making proposals how the change process could work and that there will be no loss of expertise doing that.

    If you make changes to the original team before, the investor will lose confidence in the project before it comes to funding. You should be aware of that.

    • Thanks for making that clear. At the moment there is just the chance to talking to an investor. No talks happened yet.

      And this chance is enough to bring everyone back suddenly highly motivated to receive some money

  • Read the Founders Dilemma ASAP. It will help you deal with current issues, and hopefully prevent future, issues. Also read Venture Deals because it will help you plan for and avoid issues when you’re raising funds. Good luck. Been there and it sucks.

  • How to find a better team ?: first of all, only replace a person AFTER having found a new one who really seems better. I would search for fresh graduated persons, they are not yet spoiled with money, and they worked with excitement for their thesis without any pay.

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