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The Right Match for Entrepreneurs

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A startup is like a child and needs two parents. A single parent might get burnt out," said Aprameya Radhakrishna, cofounder of online taxi aggregator TaxiForSure. In 2011, Radhakrishna, 32, had just launched his new venture when he fell ill with dengue and was unable to work for a month. His cofounder Raghunandan, 31, a batchmate at the National Institute of Technology, Karnataka, handled the operations. "It could have been disastrous at such an early stage if I was the sole founder and was out of action for a month," said Radhakrishna. The selection of the cofounder is increasingly seen as the first important task an entrepreneur faces while starting up, with experts of the view that friendship cannot be the only qualification. "The stress and pressure especially at the time of starting up is very high. The founders should be able to solve problems together; they should work well together not just 'get along,'" said Mukund Mohan, head of Microsoft Ventures, which incubates technology startups. For instance, Radhakrishna and Raghunandan believe it is their complementary personalities that make them good cofounders. "Aprameya is creative, innovative and does not think of deadlines. I am good at executing the creative ideas and ensuring that we stick to deadlines," said Raghunandan, who uses only a first name. The two cofounders expect their company to earn revenue of Rs 100 crore by fiscal 2015. Venture capital investors said they prefer to back companies with cofounders rather than solo entrepreneurs. "We have encouraged single entrepreneurs to come back to us with cofounders," said Prashanth Prakash, a partner at early-stage venture firm Accel that has invested in Flipkart and TaxiForSure. The major reason for this is the difficulty in attracting the right talent at early stages of starting up. "It is easier for a startup to accelerate without much capital and external dependencies if the founders bring in various skills," said Prakash. As demand for the right partners picks up across India's startup ecosystem, industry networks are stepping up to help make the connections. Headstart Foundation, a non-profit focused on fostering entrepreneurship, has created a database, which helps entrepreneurs identify potential cofounders. It now has 600 entrepreneurs registered with it. Arpit Agarwal, a director at Headtstart, believes it is important to draw up a cofounder agreement that includes each founder's stake and specifies what happens if a founder leaves. "It is like a pre-nuptial agreement that states how property will be divided if a marriage falls apart," said Agarwal, who learned the importance of such an agreement through personal experience. In 2010, he launched a venture to commercialise innovative academic projects. It floundered a year later due to differences with his cofounder. "I thought my cofounder, who was many years senior to me, would leave his job and join full-time. Source:

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