Earlier this week, we published an article highlighting why you should find a co-founder to accompany you on your entrepreneurial journey.
Today, we will be exploring the ways in which you can find and acquire said co-founder(s), as an individual based in the UAE.
Your own network
This should probably be a given. The first place you should look at for a co-founder is your own personal network. Mentors, professors, colleagues and acquaintances you’ve met within the past few years represent a great starting point, as they already have a relationship with you, allowing you to leverage them to reach a larger circle of potential candidates. Feel free to tap “cold” leads too, as you never know if that ex-colleague you enjoyed working with 10 years ago might be the right match. Careem co-founders Mudassir Sheikha and Magnus Olson, for example, met while they both were working as consultants at McKinsey.
An email, LinkedIn message, or the classic phone call might do the trick to test the waters and find a lead. However, there is a better option…
Local networking and entrepreneurship events of interest
What’s better than hitting up an old contact over the phone to let them know about your search? Sharing a cup of coffee with them at a networking or entrepreneurship event. Not only will they be more impressed with your active efforts to locate a co-founder, they are more likely to introduce you to interesting people who are present there.
Additionally, just attending events where skilled professionals will be present is a great practice on its own. Attend everything from startup competitions, trade events, pitching sessions, awards ceremonies, and business conferences - you never know where or when you’ll strike gold. Even if you fail in the first few times, which is perfectly normal (this is a long process after all), you’ll be growing your network further, which feeds into our first point, subsequently improving your chances of finding the “one.”
While startup culture is still relatively new in the UAE compared to the US, for example, it has been growing in recent years, with MENA startup funding at an all time high. As a result, you are more likely to find like-minded people than ever before, and more events are popping up that aim to stimulate this sector.
One such event is the Co-Founder Dubai programme, an initiative of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The programme, the first of its kind in the UAE, completed its second cycle this year, connecting startups to aspiring co-founders offering industry-specific expertise that can support their growth and success.
Ecosystem entities like the Khalifa Fund, Hub71, ADGM, Plug and Play Abu Dhabi, and others, are great destinations to keep in mind when looking for similar events that will aid your search.
One bonus tip: You never know who’ll you’ll meet at a coworking space. Companies like WeWork frequently host community events and icebreakers, which introduce you to people outside your field of expertise. These can be a good place to find talented people that might be interested in your business idea.
Take your search online
A benefit of living in the 21st century is that you have access to the internet, which is a power entrepreneurs in past decades couldn’t even dream of.
Linkedin and Facebook Groups with business-inclined people are a good place to start your search, giving you access to pools of talent otherwise humanly impossible to reach, all through a few clicks and keyword searches.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Today, there are dedicated websites that specialize in connecting entrepreneurs with each other.
One of the most famous of these platforms is CoFoundersLab. We confirmed that its co-founder database feature allows you to narrow down your search to the UAE, which is always something you need to be wary of as many international platforms such as this are locked to certain regions.
There are plenty of other sites like this online. Find which one works for you.