5 tips for starting a business with a stranger

Copy paste programmers

When I first thought of the idea for what would become Jobber, I never could have imagined that I would one day be the CEO of a tech company with nearly 100,000 active customers in more than 45 countries. And that I would do this alongside a complete stranger who I met during a chance encounter at a coffee shop.

When you’re first thinking about starting a company, most people would either go at it alone or partner with someone they know, like a friend, family member, or former colleague. Few would consider pursuing their entrepreneurial dream with a stranger. Without proper due diligence, co-founding a company with a stranger can feel like putting a down payment on a new house without opening the front door. While this might not be the right path for everyone, it was absolutely the best move for me.

Jobber is proof that starting a company with a stranger isn’t just doable, it can even be an advantage.

Pursuing a business partnership without a prior relationship has allowed my co-founder Forrest Zeisler and I to be more honest and forthcoming with each other as we worked toward a clear, common objective from the start. The ability to arrive at big decisions and have productive debate without the baggage and bias of a preexisting relationship helped to establish Jobber’s feedback-oriented culture, which is ingrained in the DNA of the company. I attribute our company’s early success to our focus on building a strong and honest business partnership first.

For aspiring entrepreneurs looking to launch a company, I’ve identified five tips that really helped me build trust, camaraderie and mutual understanding with my co-founding partner — a partnership that can withstand intense competition and the test of time.

Start small and aim big

I didn’t know that Forrest would become my co-founder when we first met. As a self-taught developer, I was looking for more sophisticated development help on the project I was working on. During the early stages of our relationship, I would present a problem, such as technical aspects with code, and he would help me with it. Through these initial interactions, it became clear how Forrest’s mind works, and we learned that we worked really well together. At the time, I wasn’t thinking of these tasks as “tests” on compatibility, but in retrospect, they were. If you can’t overcome the small hurdles amicably and efficiently, then how do you expect to take on the big stuff? It’s not a good sign for a long-term business relationship.