How to Handle Co-founder Disputes as a Startup Founder

Photo by Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash

Co-founder disputes are not uncommon in startups.

Founders usually have different perspectives on how the company should be run.

There are disputes over equity splits, valuation of the startup, division of responsibilities, and many more.

I have seen many co-founders who have left startups because of these disputes. However, you should not give up if your partner has a different opinion.

You will need to understand the root cause of disagreement and find a solution to it.

The situation is similar to a relationship in which partners have different opinions on how to run their lives.

There are two reasons why co-founders may not agree on the issues.

First, one of the founders may not be mature enough to take decisions. Second, founders have different expectations from their startup.

If one of your co-founders is immature or has a low EQ (Emotional Intelligence), then you will have to look for a solution by communicating with him or her patiently and working towards finding a solution.

This should just be temporary because you will need to know if this co-founder will grow and mature over time. If it is not possible for him/her to change, then you should consider replacing him/her as soon as possible.

For founders with different expectations from a startup, it’s important to understand the perspective of each founder and find a way that satisfies both parties.

For example, if one founder wants more money and another does not care about money, but wants more equity in the startup, then you can divide equity in the form of stocks instead of cash.

Both the parties are satisfied with this arrangement because they are getting what they want most out of this agreement.

This is why co-founders should be on same page in terms of expectations from the startup. You may have different responsibilities divided among the founders, but you must have same goals for the company.

If your co-founder has a different goal, then it is better to part ways and find someone else who shares your goals.

By being a team player and working together with your co-founder, you can save yourself from unnecessary fights and maintain long term relationship with him/her.

You may not always agree with your co-founder’s opinion, but if it comes down to a dispute, it’s important to find a solution that satisfies both parties.

How to resolve Co-Founder disputes?

First, you should try to understand your co-founder’s perspective on the issue and understand his/her concerns.

Then, ask your co-founder if he/she has any suggestions for the solution and if he/she is happy with it.

If he/she does not have any solution in mind, then you should find one together and come to a mutual agreement.

You can also hire a business coach or an advisor who is neutral in this dispute and ask him/her to mediate between both parties.

This person can help you find a solution that works for both of you without taking sides. If there are legal issues involved, then a lawyer can also help with mediation process between both parties.

About the Author

I am the Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and angel investor in other Startups of my other interests (Proptech, Fintech, HRtech, Ride-hailing, C2C marketplaces and SaaS). You can also find me on Cudy for early-stage Startup Founder mentorship and advice.

You can connect with me on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderlhk) and let me know that you are a reader of my Medium posts in your invitation message.

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Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and investor.

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Alexander Lim

Alexander Lim

Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and investor.

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