To have, or not to have co-founders, that is the question on the minds of most aspiring entrepreneurs. Do startups with co-founders have a better chance at success? Given that 19 out of 26 startups that entered India’s unicorn league this year have more than one founder, perhaps, answers the question.


While there are myriad factors that contribute to the making of a successful business, one that’s most crucial, experts concur, is choosing the right co-founder. “We have seen that there is more momentum, faster progress, and tougher problems getting tackled, leading overall to a higher chance of success when two co-founders with complementary skills come together,” says Esha Tiwary, India Head of Entrepreneur First.

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As a global talent investor firm, Entrepreneur First has broken new ground with their unique concept of talent investing – finding and funding talented and ambitious individuals who want to startup now. “In just 2.5 years since our launch in India, we have invested in 34 cutting-edge tech startups (all with more than one founder). Interestingly, of these 34 startups from India, 21 were funded by us during the pandemic,” notes Tiwary.

The Bengaluru-based firm’s close collaboration with early-stage investors shows that funding companies founded by teams rather than those with solo founders have better prospects.

Balancing act

“Based on my experience of building iD with my cousins, I believe that having the right co-founders can make a world of difference,” says PC Musthafa, CEO & Co-founder of iD Fresh Food, India’s leading fresh food brand.

“Each individual has his own strengths and weaknesses. For instance, my strengths are sales, marketing and finance. In my co-founders, I found the competencies that I was lacking -

manufacturing, technology and innovation. Our complementary skillsets make us the right team for running a successful business,” elucidates Musthafa.

K Vaitheeswaran, popularly known as ‘Father of E-commerce in India’, adds, “Co-founders must bring different strengths to the table for efficiency. There’s no point in all co-founders being techies. Multiple strengths like marketing, sales, operations, finance, and technology are required for success and varying skills makes it easier to scale. Vaithee started a new innings at the age of 56 with his co-founder Sundeep Thakran.

Similarly, when Ankit Garg, CEO and Co-founder of, approached Chaitanya Ramalingegowda in 2016 to come onboard as a co-founder, they mutually agreed that one will handle product development, research, and innovation at the company, while the other will look after marketing and customer experience.

“Our complementary skills have worked well for us, as Ankit has been able to drive the company’s growth by entering new market segments, solidifying the product portfolio within the company, and bolstering the production and logistics processes. I have been able to oversee innovative marketing campaigns, set up customer experience processes, and drive the fundraising efforts for the company,” admits Ramalingegowda.

Making it happen

The experience of building an impactful business with the right co-founder is priceless, yet most budding entrepreneurs struggle to find opportunities to make it happen. Are friends and families the only available choices as prospective co-founders?

At Entrepreneur First, complete strangers joining the six-month programme go from individual to co-founders of funded startups in just three months! “Most people who join the cohort don’t have a clear idea of what they will build,” confesses Tiwary. “We evaluate and accept them based on their potential, and then help them discover not just a viable business idea, but also a compatible co-founder,” she adds.

“We have created a culture where it is normal to co-found with someone within a few days of meeting them, and that works only because of our vigorous selection process and the intense co-working time on the cohort,” explains Tiwary. At the same time, the firm encourages founders to “break up as soon as it’s not working” – with none of the awkwardness or hard feelings that commonly hinder progress.

“Entrepreneurship can be a lonely experience,” says Musthafa. “While the highs are rewarding, the lows can be hard to handle. Having the right co-founders can help you tide through the tough times. My cousins and I share the same core values of trust, integrity and giving back to the society - and that has helped us survive the rough patches in business,” he adds.

Gurprit Singh, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Umbrella Infocare thinks it’s important for the co-founder to share your vision when starting out. “When I started out, I wanted someone who shared my passion for anything cloud, with the energy and drive to not only setup a business but build with deep care and expertise. In the early days, when a business is budding, there are a lot of simple tasks that we need to do ourselves, and don’t have the resources to delegate to. We both had it in us to do this and right from executing to envisioning growth every year, devising strategy and finding the best skillset to ensure growth, my co-founder has complemented in these aspects every step of the way.”

In fact, Entrepreneur First’s experience of working with over 3000 founders across London, Singapore, Berlin, Paris, Toronto and India bears testament to the merits of individuals with diverse skillsets coming together to start a business. “For a startup to be successful, it’s vital to ensure that the co-founders have the right chemistry, complimentary skillsets, and alignment on long-term vision. There’s no asset like a talented, capable and compatible team in building a business,” affirms Tiwary.


(Disclaimer: Brand Desk Content)