How To Find A Co-Founder

I want to share a few notes on what I’ve learned securing one of the smartest technical co-founders I’ve come across for our next product Memli – An easy to use private content management platform fully integrated with Stripe.

It’s important to note, I not an expert in this field and have only co-founded one other company in my career (a blog network back in early 2008).

I used a few strategies that worked out for me back then (my co-founder bought my shares a few years later) along with great wisdom I’ve been reading from Naval Ravikant and Paul Graham.

Hopefully the following points will help anyone looking for a co-founder – whether technical or not.

1. Know the space well

I have personally tested out 6 different private member platforms and have looked at many, many more. I have been in this space for 2 years now and know what’s broken, and more importantly, how to fix it.

By having the knowledge of the space you are venturing into, I think this will not only help your product, but also in finding a great co-founder.

2. Connect, connect, connect

I feel a founders role is to always be keeping an eye out for talent – whether you have the cash to pursue recruiting or not. I feel this is the same for co-founders.

You should be making mental notes of the smart people you encounter, and put yourself in a position where you get to meet smart people on a regular basis.

How do you connect with smart people? Hang out where the smart people in your community hang out. Attend meet-ups. Become an early adapter of products in your field. Spend time on online communities where they gather.

Send emails. When’s the last time you emailed someone working on a product you use with “hey, keep up the great work!”. No one does this. You’ll really stand out.

3. Be prepared

This is the first email I sent to the guy on the top of my list (I had emailed him prior with constructive feedback on how to make his product better):

I’m currently in the process of designing/launching a private members area that fits better with our needs. It will integrate with Stripe, just as slick as Plasso.com does.

The idea behind it is to keep it as simple as possible. Just 3 main areas – Settings, Members and Content.

I’ve tried just about all membership products and I’ve yet to come across something elegant and simple that does one thing really well – allow registered users to access private content while fully integrated with a payment solution.

Closest competitor is memberful.com, which in my opinion, is too complicated (too many bells and whistles) and their pricing is far too aggressive.

My thinking is to offer this as a flat x per month fee. That’s exactly what I’d be willing to pay. As with the software, the aim is to keep everything, including the pricing, nice and simple.

Using BuiltWith.com, I can reach out to thousands of sites using popular membership software programs. I have the resources to contact them individually.

I’m looking for a developer to work on this with me, and the first person I thought of was you. Is this something you’d be interested in coding? Happy to split the project 50/50 – you handle the development, I’ll handle design, marketing and sales.

I’ve attached a mockup I’ve designed (happy to send you more pages). This is work in progress and I have my developer coding it in html for me so we’ll get a much better sense of the members area in a web browser.

Let me know your thoughts. Would be great to collab together.

You’ll notice a few things from this email:

A. It’s short, precise and to the point. Long emails are a drag to read and are often unnecessary.

B. It showed I know the space well. How large the market is. Who the competitors are. How we can make it better.

C. By attaching screen shots and spending a few bucks outsourcing a HTML version of the product, this showed I was serious. I’m also confident this better articulated what the product is designed to do.

D. I held nothing back. And I’m not doing here either. Ideas are cheap. DNA’s are often worthless. It’s all about the execution. I believe by being open, it will in turn produce better ideas, feedback, products and results.

4. Be honest

This may seem obvious but it’s so important you really lay out every concern from the get go. This is also a sure way to build trust – especially if you cover hard-to-have conversations from the start.

It’s kind of uncomfortable to say “Let’s discuss what happens if this does not work out” when you are excited about the project you are about to embark on, but it needs to be done. Try and cover every possible scenario from the beginning.

5. Trust

My co-founder and myself have not met. So we needed to express in words (and on calls) how we can trust each other. I’m so glad we did this. Here’s an email I sent to my co-founder regarding trust:

How do you trust me? I’ve spent the last few years building my reputation and branding online. I would be foolish to tarnish this by doing any wrong doing. I have lot’s of ideas I want to follow through over the next few years, but this is the idea I’m most knowledgeable and passionate about.

Which leads me onto… how do I trust you?

To be brutally honest with you, apart from basic PHP/CSS/HTML…. I can’t code. So I’m in a sticky situation. I need a great developer. After thinking about who I should approach first, it boiled down to needing someone with the expertise you have.

I’ve also been highly impressed with your feedback loop so far and your assertiveness on getting new features rolled out. Along with this, I’m guessing you already have (or understand) the codebase that is needed to get a project like this off the ground.

My co-founder responded with:

For me, I’m a programmer through and through. I’ve delved into business side of the startups many times and though I didn’t hate it, my passion is building things, so my focus has been just that – building, building and building.

I’ve been doing it for quite awhile now, so I think I have my development process pretty well laid out. The reason why I was interested in your idea was because I think you and I will have complementary skill sets to balance things out.

6. Define founder roles & expectations

I think it’s paramount you find a co-founder who has complimentary skill sets. As you can see from the email exchanges above, our roles were defined from the get go – my co-founder will focus on development, I will focus on design, marketing and sales.

I did share my marketing strategy. I think this is important to do so with a technical co-founder.

7. The split

In our case we were already further along that most startups launching with just an idea. My co-founder has written a lot of the code that will be used in our product, and I have spent the last year building an audience of tech entrepreneurs online, so it made sense we split the project 50/50.

Every co-founder’s situation will be different. You need to work out a split that’s fair.

8. Initial costs

Thankfully it’s never been so cost effective to start a software business. With a couple of hundred bucks you can get most products off the ground (albeit very time intensive).

We have shared a Google Doc which lists all expenses incurred, and agreed on deducting these when we start generating revenue.

This might not be the most professional way of doing things, but it works for our own situation.

9. When do you incorporate?

I love this video with Mint founder Aaron Patzer where he goes into detail of how Mint incorporated late into their product timeline.

Incorporating, accounting, lawyers etc. are both time and capital intensive. I feel both are unnecessary when you are first starting out.

With that said, we did both agree when and where we would incorporate. Again, we wanted to lay everything out on the table so that in the future, we know exactly what’s going to happen.

We agreed on a 4 figure monthly profit, and both agreed to incorporate in Hong Kong (I wrote a handbook on why founders should incorporate in Hong Kong if you are interested).

10. Vesting

Along with trust, vesting is one of the most important aspects of forming a co-founding relationship. Most vesting periods are 3 to 5 years, although we agreed on a shorter vesting period as we have both done a fair amount of work into the project.

This is the email I sent on proposing fair vesting terms:

While not legal as we have not incorporated, let’s agree to a gentleman’s virtual hand shake to start the project with 20% ownership each right off the bat, and we both earn an additional 10% per 6 months going forward (x3).

Profits will always be distributed 50/50, until someone wants out. This will insure in the event one of us wants to leave (I doubt this will happen, but better to lay it out), the other can continue working/growing the project fairly.

Hopefully you found the above useful. If you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out to me.

La Monita Taqueria, Bangkok

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La Monita Taqueria, located steps away from Ploenchit in Bangkok, has got to be my favourite restaurant in Bangkok right now. Vibrant and relaxed decor, fair prices and superb, if not the best, Mexican food you’ll find in Thailand.

Above we have the New Zealand ribeye soft taco’s, a must order for me every time I visit. Below we have the churrios – fresh, soft and so, so naughty.

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Highly recommended.

La Monita Taqueria
888/26 Mahatun Plaza, Ploenchit Road, Bangkok
02 650 9581

My Experiences with Modafinil – The Brain Enhancement Drug

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Papilio Coffee Shop – A great place to work in Ubon Ratchahtani, Thailand.

Many of my entrepreneur friends have long been taking Modafinil, a nootropic drug that stimulates creativity, work flow and concentration.

It’s often referred to as the closest thing on the market to the drug based on the hollywood film Limitless – where the main character can access 100% of his brain power.

As most of my friends have had slightly different experiences with Modafinil,  I wanted to write a few words on my own experiences.

Please note, I’m not endorsing Modafinil. I simply think more information out there around Modafinil, the better it is for people who are considering trying it.

My first time:

I got up bright and early, took my protein shake for breakfast as normal, waited 30 minutes and swallowed 200mg of Modafinil with my morning coffee.

It wasn’t long before I started to feel the effects. The first thing I noticed as I started with email, my regular morning routine, was no desire to delay responding to any emails.

You know the emails you get where you are unsure what to respond with or tell yourself “I’ll get on that later”? That never happened. I whizzed through 55 emails in one of my inboxes within 40 minutes.

So far, so good.

My productivity during the morning was off the charts, although I wished I could have turned my brain speed down by one notch.

It was kind of like thinking faster than you could process the information. Reading and typing were both faster than my average speeds.

At this stage I started to understand what others had told me; it’s better to have 2 or 3 big tasks scheduled instead of lot’s of little tasks, as I had been working on.

You tend to get sucked in on the task you are working on and as a result, the ability to move from one small task to the other was a little more troublesome than normal.

When you are focusing, the amount of focus is crazy high. Your in the zone and already a step ahead, which results in completing tasks quicker than you typically would.

Many reports online say you loose appetite and mine was not as high as it normally is after a heavy morning work session. I did eat as I wanted to eat and drink enough fluids throughout the day to minimise negative effects afterwords.

A few hours in, my hands we’re slightly damp and sweaty. I also found myself evaluating my health and mental state regularly. This was probably due to the fact it was my first time and I was a little nervous what was happening.

Looking back, 200mg was probably a little too much for my first try.

I had 3 calls scheduled in the afternoon and to be honest I was in no mood to take them. For me, I wanted to work on big solo tasks.

By mid afternoon I had accomplished what I would normally accomplish in 2 days. The slight jittery effects I had in the morning were waring off.

As I approached the end of the day it became clear the best thing about taking Modafinil was the ability to make decisions. I put nothing off all day; the best possible solution to the problem came to me instantly and I went with it.

It’s a great feeling to be able to make and run with decision quickly.

By 5pm I had a very slight headache, but this was probably due to being glued to my notebook screen for 9 hours straight.

After a bowl of noodles for dinner and getting ready for bed, I felt physically tired, yet my brain was still in working mode. It took me about 3 hours to get to sleep vs. my average 30 minutes, and as a result, this was the biggest drawback I had with Modafinil.

Since my first time experience detailed above, I have moved to taking 50mg (quarter of a tablet) when I take Modafinil (about twice a month). The effects and concentration levels are similar, yet are not as intense. I can also sleep better by reducing the dose.

Conclusions:

1. Stay hydrated – I have some friends who set alarms to remind themselves they need to drink water as you really do get sucked into what you are working on. I drink heaps of water normally, do this is not much of a problem for me.

2. Plan when you are going to take it – I plan the day before I’m going to take Modafinil so I can:

a) Get up earlier than normal. The half-life of Modafinil is a monster 12-15 hours, so for me, the ealier I take it, the better.

b) Plan the projects I’m going to work on – Create an environment where I can focus on 2 or 3 big solo work projects. I also make sure I have no calls scheduled.

3. Eat breakfast before you take it. If you do lose your appetite, you’ll at least have a base in your stomach.

4. Remember no one really knows how Modafinil works. This is why I don’t take it daily.

If you have any specific questions regarding Modafinil, feel free to ask below and I’ll try my best to help. If you’re looking for a reliable supplier to buy Modafinil, check out ModafinilCat.com. Ordering from them feels like signing up for a Silicon Valley startup, they offer free shipping on top of a very affordable pricing model and even full refunds.

Have you tried Modafinil before? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences below.

Time; life’s second most important asset after health

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Time; life’s second most important asset after health.

My friend wrote to me:

“you always look so happy in your photos, it makes me so delighted life is good for you”

I strongly believe the reason I’m a happy-bunny right now is due to my new found appreciation of time.

You see, in 2010 and 2011 I lost two of some of the most important people in my life; my Dad, who taught me the importance of respect and the morals I live by, and Nick; my first best friend.

This had a dramatic impact on me. The biggest impact was making sure I get the most out of my time. As we all know; our time can run out when we least expect it.

Here are a few rules I live by to optimise my time:

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

When I was young, I had hearing problems and needed to have surgery (grommits) once or twice a year. I used to get scared week’s before I was due to go under general anaesthetic, but I can remember my dad telling me “there’s no benefit in worrying about it now. Worry about it on the day.” So true.

There’s no benefit in worrying about things before you need to worry about them. The same goes for sweating the small stuff; there’s rarely any upside.

A story comes to mind; I was sitting in a coffee shop in Hanoi when a tourist went crazy after he was served the wrong blend of tea. The tea cost less than a buck, and he made such a scene it spoiled the whole ambiance (and time) for everyone else in the coffee shop.

If you get served the wrong tea or you find your flight is delayed or your in the shower and you forgot to stock up on Shampoo – don’t sweat it. There’s nothing you can do and there is absolutely no positivity that can come out of getting heated and stressed over something you have no control over. Learn to go with the flow.

2. Be picky who you interact with.

There are so many negative people out there. These are the zombies you want to stay away from. Negativity spread’s like germs, and they will only eat at your time in the most unproductive way possible.

This is why I love entrepreneurs so much; they are almost all optimistic and positive. Being surrounded by people wanting to improve other people’s lives is one of the best decisions you can make. Seriously, try hard to surround yourself with people you inspire to be like.

3. Make decisions fast.

At Founders Grid we had a member who responded to a thread that started with “I hope Chris doesn’t mind me posting this, but…”.

Guess what? I did mind. He knew I would mind. I didn’t believe in the advice he was giving and having given him prior warnings, I had to make a quick decision.

I had 3 options; I could let it slip, delete he’s post or simply ban him. I thought about it for a good 20 minutes and come to the conclusion my life, and the forum, would be better without him.

I banned him, and as soon as I pressed the delete button on he’s account, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. It felt great.

If I had not of acted quickly, this problem would have stayed on my mind and would have had a negative impact on my work flow and the people I interacted with that day. It almost always pays to act fast.

4. Do what you love.

“Some 80% of your life is spent working. You want to have fun at home; why shouldn’t you have fun at work?” Richard Branson.

I woke up at 6am this morning and was pumped to get to work. While getting my morning coffee I wondered how many others in this world can say the same thing.

Now there’s a lot of advice online that will teach you one of two things; 1) do what you love or 2) follow the cash.

Having done both in my life, I can tell you my life is more rich, fulfilling and fun working on something I love and believe in, over dollar signs. It sure makes the bumps and the lows more bearable.

Want to make cakes for a living? Go and work for bakery for free on the weekends and learn your craft.

Want to have an online business? Email me to schedule a Skype call and I’ll try my best to give you some advice and some ideas you can test, without wanting anything in return.

Want to sell skateboards for a living? Ask your skate buddies what they dislike about their current board and design a new one. Get a prototype made. Ask your friends for additional feedback. Repeat until you’ve got something everyone is begging to give you cash for.

If you are going to work for most of your life, you need to be working on something you you will be pumped to get out of bed for. Otherwise, what’s the point? You’ll only be wasting precious time.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Surround yourself with positive people. Act fast. Do what you love.

What would you like me to write about here at My Egg Noodles?

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The problem with this blog being my personal blog and covering so many different topics is that sometimes I’m not sure what you want me to write about.

This blog started out as a blog to keep my mum updated on my adventures but has since grown into something I really love updating and working on.

If you have any specific questions or topics you would like to see me address, please add them in the comments below and I’ll try my best to get them covered for you.

A few things that might be interesting to cover:

– Working & traveling with my wife full time
– Working from hotel rooms full time
– Travel gear
– Working on Founders Grid
– Being bootstrapped
– Why I like to keep my team as small as possible
– Blogging, sales, marketing etc.
– Startup, idea, website usability feedback
– Photography & filmmaking

Happy new year!

Founders Grid Event #1

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Founders Grid, my private community and resource hub for global entrepreneurs, is in the early stages of hosting our first event. It’s exciting stuff.

Not wanting to go the traditional hotel conference room route, we plan to host the event in a mansion somewhere for a weekend (New Zealand and Italy are on the short list) that will feature something similar to Y Combinator’s office hours over dinner with smart entrepreneurs and innovators. We also have daily activities participants can attend to embrace the local culture and surroundings.

Early stages yet (we plan to host the event in August), but I’m looking forward to seeing this come together. If you are interested, you can sign up for updates over on Founders Grid.

My 12 Best Restaurants of 2013

What makes a great restaurant?

The answer is subjective. There’s no right answer. You like what you like. For me the decor and ambiance is secondary to the food. The food always comes first.

As I eat out in restaurants everyday, I’m looking for fresh simple food cooked to perfection and restaurants that have a fair quality to price ratio.

Deciding what restaurants would go on this was difficult (the original title was my top 10!), but after several debates inside my head, I think all these restaurants warrant being on the list for the same reason; they all offer outstanding food I could eat every day.

Here’s my list of the top 10 restaurants I visited during 2013, in no particular order:

Roast, Bangkok

Roast, Bangkok

Two of the best breakfast/brunch restaurants I visited in 2013 are both in Bangkok. The first is Roast, located on Thonglor, which offer’s exceptional coffee and breakfast items cooked to perfection. I’m a sucker for their Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine.

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Kuppa, Bangkok

Kuppa, located on Asoke, has a different menu to Roast, which is why it’s on the list. It’s simple comfort food cooked to perfection. The AUS wagu beef sandwich is a must order for me. The smoothies and deserts are also out of this world.

Quan An Ngon, Hanoi

Quan An Ngon, Hanoi

Easily the best Vietnamese restaurant I’ve visited in my life. No thrills here in the decor/service department (although nothing to complain about), however the Vietnamese dishes here are so fresh and inviting, served family style. I miss this place and can’t wait to return in 2014.

Pizza at PB Valley

Great Hornbill Restaurant, Kaoh Yai

I don’t mean to pick out single menu items and say they are the best I’ve had, but what can I say, the pizza here at the Great Hornbill restaurant (only served on Friday and Saturday) is the best pizza I’ve ever had.

The super light crispy crust is crust perfection. I’ve been coming here for years now and they never disappoint. Beautiful surroundings too being located on a vineyard in Kaoh Yai.

5

Tim Ho Wan, Hong Kong

The cheapest michelin star restaurant in the world. I’ve eaten at both locations now, one in the Central train station and the other, the flagship restaurant, in Mongkok.

The Mongkok location has a better vibe (very busy), however the Central location does not have the long queues the Mongkok location has (often longer than 2 hours). The dim-sum served in both are amazing, making Tim Ho Wan a must visit every time I’m in Hong Kong.

eatme

Eat Me, Bangkok

Out of all the restaurants listed here, Eat Me is the place I visit most. Think light fresh ingredients with unique twists. The restaurant it’s self is located above an art gallery in a small side street in Silom, Bangkok – is beautiful.

I’ve been coming here for 4 years now and it remains one of my favourite restaurants of all time, and is my go to choice for a romantic or business focused dinner while in Bangkok.

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Isao, Bangkok

After trying out several high end sushi restaurants in Bangkok this year, I’m going into 2014 only dinning at Isao when I have a sushi craving while in Bangkok.

This place has a great vibe, fresh sushi and reasonable prices for the high quality – which makes this an easy choice to be on my top restaurants for 2013.

lagoon

Lagoon, Colombo

When asking my wife what her highlight was from 2013 (having already thought about it myself), it made me smile when she said her highlight was the same as mine – our meal at Lagoon, located in the Cinnamon hotel in Colombo.

The seafood here was the freshest I’ve ever had. Lobster simply grilled. Crab in Sri Lankan curry. BBQ’d fish. Wonderful staff who made us feel really welcome.

Funny this being the highlight of our year – when we arrived, they said they we’re fully booked for the night (our last night in Colombo). After telling the service staff we we’re leaving the next day and really wanted to dine, they went to ask the manager if they could squeeze us in. We had to wait an hour in the hotel bar, but boy was it worth the wait.

I love how life sometimes works like that. This is the best restaurant I dinned at in 2013.

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Smith, Bangkok

For some reason I’ve been on a burger binge during 2013. I think there’s nothing more satisfying that a very well made burger cooked to perfection. While visiting Bangkok heaps this year, I’ve been trying to locate the best burger in the city.

The burger at Shuffle comes in at a close second, but the black label burger made with Australian Wagyu and squid ink broche served at Smith wins the burger race for me.

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Supanniga Eating Room, Bangkok

I’ve got a few favourite Thai restaurants in Bangkok, but I think for the price to quality ratio, Supanniga Eating Room is hard to beat. Classic Thai dishes cooked really well, and I really like the decor and ambiance of this place.

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La Badiane, Hanoi

While I had some problems with the manager here, I can not fault the food. The chefs at La Badiane helped create one of the best tasting experiences I had during 2013. Excellent surroundings and decor too. If you like french cuisine with a touch of freshness, this place is a must visit.

opposite

Opposite, Bangkok

This funky little place is slowly becoming one of my favourite places to eat in Bangkok. The menu changes often, but you can expect small plates of freshly cooked food designed to be shared. If you go, I highly recommend sitting at the bar in front of the kitchen. It’s great watching the chefs cook and plate up.

What amazing restaurants did you dine at during 2013?