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Cofounder Due Diligence

Cofoundd and lead your startup with confidence

"Picking a cofounder is your most important decision. It’s more important than your product, market, and investors."
Naval Ravikant

How do you know you have the right cofounder?

Are you working effectively together?

Are you on the same page?

The right cofounder is someone who:

you admire
you vibe with when you work together
almost intimidates you because of how talented and smart they are
you understand, and just as importantly, they understand you
Most founding teams fail because the cofounders don’t invest enough time in getting to know and understand each other.


65% of VC portfolio company failure happen because of issues within the startup’s management team.
It pays, in both the short and the long term, to make sure that your cofounder choices are the right ones. It’s not unheard of for founding teams, just like married couples, to not go the distance.

Lawyering up to try to extract the ‘wrong’ cofounder is an expensive and time-consuming exercise that can, and often does, lead to the destruction of the company.
Through the Cofoundd due diligence process you will conduct a deep dive into the motivations, dreams, ambitions and realities of the individuals on the founding team. Exploring and understanding all the alternatives, including the possibility and implications of a cofounder break up, you will demonstrate to your cofounders, future employees and investors that you mean business.

As with marriage, having a prenup in place doesn’t hurt either.

Cofoundd due diligence process

De-risk your startup from the start

Cofounder mismatch is one of the unnecessary and solvable problems within the startup ecosystem.

Choosing cofounders for your business should
be by design... not gut instinct.

Cofoundd due diligence is a multi-stage process that will help you clarify and better understand:

Roles, relationships and rewards
Founder motivations, commitment levels, family influences and time horizons
Individual strengths, weaknesses and working styles
Potential issues resulting from overlapping functional skills and experience
How to deal with founder differences and misalignment
How to design a process for decision-making and conflict resolution
The risk tolerance of each founder
Individual experiences relevant to the business
The importance of equity vesting schedules and cofounder agreements
The assumptions each founder is making about the business
What each cofounder’s core value system is and how that translates into the culture of the company
The combined human, social and financial capital of the founding team
Knowledge and experience gaps across the team and how to fill them
The end goal
The Cofoundd due diligence process helps you better understand the people dynamics and the implications of starting a business with your  cofounder(s), as well as how to mitigate against the risks inherent in cofounding a business.


The first stage of the process begins with a 14-question survey. On completion of the survey, the answers together with practical guidelines, are shared with all the cofounders who then discuss and explore one another’s answers in detail. The second stage is a more in-depth survey exploring additional elements of the cofounder puzzle.


As part of the process the founders will begin to clarify how their personal values translate into the business’s core values, and how the core values, combined with the company’s mission and vision form the foundation for the culture they will develop.


Bretton Putter is a leading expert on startup and high-growth company culture. He is the founder & CEO of CultureGene, a company culture consultancy helping early stage and high-growth technology companies to prepare for and execute at scale. Before founding CultureGene, he spent 16 years as the Managing Partner of a London based executive search firm where he successfully helped over 400 startup and high-growth companies expand their senior management teams in the UK, across the EU and US.

Bretton published Culture Decks Decoded: Transform your Culture into a Visible, Conscious and Tangible Asset (CCF Publishing, November 2018) and he will be publishing The Culture Gene: Leadership and Culture Development Lessons from High-growth Companies (2019). He is an investor in Seedcamp funds I,II, IlI & IV.