Just as business people are not well-versed in judging the quality of scientists, one of the most difficult things for scientists and engineers is evaluating the quality of business people and entrepreneurs. Here are some things that should improve your odds of finding a high-quality entrepreneur.
You may be the technical entrepreneur, but you need a business co-founder to succeed.
Take some time, network a bit more, attend a few more events and talk with at least several entrepreneurs before committing.
Ideally you want to find someone who has successfully had an IPO or sold a startup (for a high valuation) that was as similar as possible to your technology. If they have started more than one company and sold them successfully, then that's even better. You want someone with sales & marketing or business development experience (not someone with only finance or CFO experience).
That individual should be from one of the more well-known companies in your industry (one of the large medical device companies if you have a device, or one of the biotech/pharmaceutical companies if you have a new drug compound or platform). They should have a large network in the industry and be very well-regarded in the industry. Again, they should have business development or sales & marketing experience.
The responses that you hear should be glowing and extremely positive. If not, then move on to the next person. If you can get venture capitalists to recommend someone to you, then this is often a great way to find a high-quality entrepreneur who investors already trust and have confidence in.
Being cofounders is a bit like being married so you want to find someone you enjoy working with and interacting with frequently. Many startups fail as a result of personality conflicts on the team rather than a failure of the technology. So it is very important to find someone who shares your vision for the company and who you can get along with when things get difficult.
While you should expect to give up a large percentage of the equity (10% or more) to recruit a good entrepreneur, research shows that companies do better when the founders are willing to give up control and equity in order to grow the business. Trying to maintain too much control can result in owning 100% of nothing.
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