What is a Co-founder?  6 Key Differences Between Founder and Co-founder in a Startup


Establishing a startup is a challenging and lonely job.

Though you might have a great idea that can disrupt the market, transforming it into a successful business requires a lot of skills.

It is difficult for entrepreneurs to master all the skills while overseeing the establishment of the business. This is where you may require the support of a smart co-founder.

A majority of the Venture capitalists and startup accelerators insist on the project having a co-founder.

What is a Co-Founder?

A co-founder is a person who starts a business venture with the help of other people. He complements the skills of the founder and helps to fulfill the vision of the startup.

A startup can have any number of co-founders, who can be an entrepreneur, venture capitalists, promotors, or companies.

A co-founder can be part of the startup from the beginning of the project. In this case, there is no distinction between the founder and co-founders.

Some examples of successful co-founder pairs are William Procter and James Gamble who established the now famous  Procter and Gamble, Bill Hewlett and David Packard who established HP and Larry Page and Sergey Brin who co-founded Google.

Co-founders can also be inducted by the founder to complement his skill sets. Though the co-founder plays a crucial role in the creation of the startup, he does not own the idea.

The idea belongs to the founder, but the co-founder of a startup offers the required help in the form of experience, resources, or capital to transform the idea into a successful business.

For example, Mark Zuckerberg is the founder of Facebook. When he wished to expand Facebook, he asked his fellow students for help. His mates Eduardo Saverin, Chris Hughes, Dustin Moskovitz, and Andrew McCollum took the responsibility and are credited as the co-founders of Facebook.

Responsibilities of a Co-Founder

The cofounder helps the founder to realize his idea and make it successful.

The role and responsibility of a co-founder change from business to business. However, the main responsibility is to assist the founder to polish the idea and arrive at a feasible plan to achieve success.

The cofounder has to fill in the gap in the skill sets of the founder and work hand-in-hand for the success of the start-up.

Co-funders plays a crucial role in every stage of the startup establishment, right from conducting feasibility studies, and building prototypes to launching the final product in the market.

Some common responsibilities of a co-founder include

  • Fundraising
  • Risk assessment
  • documentation
  • Team building
  • Product development
  • Business development
  • Exploring market opportunities
  • Financial management

Check HereMajor Responsibilities of Startup Founder

Key Differences Between a Founder and Co-Founder

The relationship between founder and co-founder is as close as spouses. There is a very thin line that differentiates co-founder vs founder.

  1. Ownership of the idea – In a majority of cases, the founder has ownership of the idea. The cofounder assists the founder in the process of setting up the business and making it successful. However, if the co-founder is part of the business from the stage of idea conceptualization, they may have equal ownership of the idea.
  1. Identity – A founder can be an entrepreneur, a charity organization or a philanthropist. The co-founder can be any individual or organization that helps the founder such as an entrepreneur, a company, a venture capitalist, a promoter, or technical persons such as web developers, graphic designers, web designers, financial experts, etc.
  1. Title – The title of a founder is given to the person, who is the first founder of a business. He invests his money, time, and resources for the start-up. The title of co-founder is given to the person or team playing a critical role in the establishment or expansion of the start-up.
  1. Entry Time – The founder conceptualizes the idea and is involved in the start-up from the word go. Whereas, a co-founder may be part of idea conceptualization or may be inducted into the business at a later stage when the founder requires additional skills, resources or funds.
  1. Responsibility – The responsibility of the success or failure of a startup is completely on its founders. The co-founders take partial responsibility depending on their role in the business.
  1. Equity – The founder owns a major part of the equity. Whereas, the co-founders are allotted equity based on their contributions to the start-up. Co-founders, who are part of the start-up from the very beginning may get an equal part of the equity with the founders, but others who are inducted at later stages are allotted equity based on the skills they bring on board. Sometimes co-founders also take a salary along with a part of equity as compensation for their services.

A co-founder is a critical player for a start-up. Co-founders bring additional skill sets to the table and help the founders to transform their ideas into successful business ventures.

They support the founders and share the responsibility of overseeing the day-to-day activities of the business.

Reader’s Insight

Let us know if we missed out on anything in this article founder vs co-founder – difference and share your thoughts in the comment section.


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