How to find a co-founder for your travel company?

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Founder & CEO, Yugen Earthside

Hi TM community,

Would love to hear some ideas about how other travel company founders found a business partner.

Aside from traditional networking, did you meet your co-founder(s) through conferences or industry events, find somebody outside the travel industry to bring a different perspective, join founder/meetup programs...?

I have either tried or am currently pursuing founder 'speed dating' events, LinkedIn posts, leveraging my alma mater alumni network, etc.

If anybody has any perspective or guidance that could help in finding a good match, please feel free to share!

Hilary

10 months ago
Founder, Tashi

Hi Hilary, good question and a hard one for sure! While I don’t necessarily have any hard and fast advice for doing it, I can share how I teamed up with my business partner, Tom.

Tom had started his own travel tech company (Roomranger - PMS for Hotels) and did a tourism-focused accelerator called Horizons in Australia. I started my original company, Clean Travel as a solo founder and did the same accelerator 1 year later.

While going through the program, I reached out to alumni to get their advice on the program, and as part of that Tom, and I caught up in person for a drink. While chatting, we realised that we were building overlapping products - Tom had built for Hotels, which I was then building for Tour Operators. Also, we shared a similar outlook on life, and as solo founders, we emphasised with each other in terms of its challenges. Plus, Tom had a technical background, whereas I had a more business background. Our skills were complementary rather than overlapping.

We initially decided to start with a partnership as we continued to get to know each other before finally deciding to merge some months later. We realised that the sum of our parts would be greater than our individual endeavours. That's been borne out in the years since and it was definitely a great decision ( I can only speak for myself here 😜).

So, to sum up, the 3 things that worked for me it was:

- Leveraging my network and doing outreach (which you appear to be doing)
- Connecting with others in my space (travel tech) with similar outlooks and passions.
- Then, exploring potential synergies from working together and seeing where that road took me - informal partnership-> formal partnership->merger

I wish you all the best with it - and I'll be interested to hear how you go!

Ps. Y Combinator has a Co-founder matching program - perhaps it’s worth a look? www.ycombinator.com/cofounder-matching

10 months ago
Founder & CEO, Yugen Earthside

Hi Mac, thank you so much for this thoughtful response! Very appreciated.

I love the progression of building similar but different products and naturally meeting somebody you enjoyed working with and with complementary skills - that sounds like the dream!

I looked into Y Combinator a while back but the business is way farther ahead now, so I'll check that out again and specifically look at the cofounder matching; great suggestion.

For anybody else on this path: I just discovered another startup program called OnDeck, and I've had a couple interesting meetings with people from that program.

9 months ago
CEO, Ultimate wild trip

Cheer up Hilary. Sure you will find someone. But no rush, finding a partner in business is like love, when you force it, is harder!! I know how exactly it feels. Probably most of solo founders, we have the destiny to rocket the company alone in order to get stronger ourself and learning how to have successful in life. As Macartan Gaughan told you, Y Combinator is a good choose to speak with other co-founders. At least you will meet amazing creators and visionaries. I am using it. Good luck. Regards

8 months ago
Founder & CEO, Yugen Earthside

Hi Daniel, thank you so much for the kind words! I am optimistic. I completely agree: finding the right partner is better than rushing and finding the wrong one. I will keep pursuing the paths of YC and OnDeck. I'll also continue to go to industry events, talk to other travel company founders and professionals, and in the meantime... run the business! Good things ahead. Best of luck with your own endeavors.

8 months ago