If you are new to the startup life, then you might have yet to learn that a partnership or team is everything. Logically, it’s the smartest decision to team up with another great brain to create a business.
Jason Strauss and Noah Tepperberg, founders of Marquee nightclubs and one of the most successful hospitality empires in the world, have had the success of their partnership studied by the likes of Harvard Business School.
“I think the biggest, most important attribute for a successful partnership is trust. It’s like an undying trust.”
Their partnership advice is just oozing with wisdom, wisdom that all young entrepreneurs should follow when forming their startup team. Don’t get stuck with a bad egg and avoid these ten types of bad partners.
One of the youngest and worst founders on the startup scene is probably Lucas Duplan, the founder of Clinkle, an all but failed digital payment app. With his co-founders nowhere to be found now and with much of the original team dispensed with, it’s no secret that Duplan treats his colleagues like shit. Says one former employee:
“He doesn’t want to know you, he doesn’t want to care about you, nor does he want to lead you; he simply wants to control you. You’re a pawn on his chessboard. In his mind, everyone is replaceable.”
I really hate how some companies have these dual titles like Co-CEO or Co-President. That pretty much just screams that key people in the company prefer to play the “who’s dick is bigger” game or “who’s the baddest boss bitch” instead of letting go of their egos. A good partnership has people who complement each other and know exactly what their roles are. You need someone who is right for the CEO position and someone who’s fine with the less “sexy” title. In the end, titles all come down to stupid semantics and everyone’s position matters in the company because they can not survive without each other.
Zappos Founder Tony Hsieh has always emphasised working with people you also like as friends. During interviews with people, he would always ask himself:
“Is this someone I would choose to hang out with or grab a drink with….if we weren’t in business together? If the answer is no, then we wouldn’t hire them.”
If you don’t like who you work with, you’re going to have a hell of a hard time putting your best efforts in your work because of the lingering negativity. Even worst, it creates a dent in the company culture which can potentially be poison to your business as a whole.
Imagine how Tinder co-founder Sean Rad must be feeling right now after his partner, Justin Mateen, was suspended due to sexual harassment allegations that are now widely public. Rad is now dealing with a massive publicity shitstorm, not to mention the embarrassment of having a stage-five clinger as a business partner.
Lucas Duplan, who had raised $30 million dollars from the likes of investment firm Andreessen Horowitz and entrepreneur Richard Branson is now down $10 million dollars and still doesn’t have a finished product. He also has a reputation for being over-extravagant, living in a multi-million dollar San Francisco apartment with a full-time maid service, an expensive personal trainer, and he splurged on custom luxury office furniture- for himself.
While the occasional joint to relax might not be a big deal, you don’t want someone who is still fixated on partying every single weekend and preparing for music festivals. This especially rings true if you’re just starting out and your business isn’t successful yet. Truly passionate people don’t let external distractions from everyone else get in the way of their goals.
Someone who doesn’t voice their thought or just constantly agrees with you can spell great trouble. In the end, as brilliant as you may be, you’re not perfect. You need someone who will consistently (and constructively) challenge you to improve on your ideas.
The co-founders of Rap Genius are known for being controversial, but it was finally Mahbod Moghadam that finally cross the line. After the tragedy of the UCSB shootings, Mahbod posted appalling annotations on the memoir of the mass murderer Elliot Rodger after Rap Genius posted it. This included comments like “beautifully written” and also “MY GUESS: his sister is smokin hot.”
Make sure that when picking a partner, you’re choosing someone who will think twice before doing things, especially when they are representing your company. Once wrong move could cause a media firestorm that’s unstoppable.
Oftentimes, your gut can tell you everything you need to know. No matter how much the partnership makes sense, don’t ignore that weird feeling you get, for there may be skeletons in the closet you don’t know about in this person.
A team is only as strong as their trust in each other to reach a common goal. If you don’t think your partner has the best interests of the company in mind, you’ll never be able to keep an eye on them and concentrate on moving the company forward at the same time. Jason Strauss explained exactly how his business partnership with Noah Tepperberg works:
“…I know whatever he’s doing and however he’s spending his time, it’s for all of us in the business and that he’s not taking that time to do three other things that are for himself.”