Here’s Why You Should Appreciate Your Co-Founders More Than You Probably Do

When was the last time you told your co-founders how much you love them, and why has it been so long?

Aaron Dinin, PhD


Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

A founder scheduled an “urgent” meeting with me. According to his email, his startup had run into a catastrophic problem that was going to surely cause him to shut it down.

I was less convinced. However, I’d been talking with the founder for three years about his various projects, and I thought he had long term potential as an entrepreneur. Plus, he offered to buy me a milkshake, and how could I refuse that?

We met a couple days later, and I was surprised he was alone. “Where’s Ryan?” I asked. Ryan was his longtime co-founder, and I’d always met them together.

He took a deep breath and shook his head. “Ryan and I aren’t working together on this project anymore,” he said. Then he quickly added, “but that’s totally OK. I’ve been solo-foundering it for the past six months, and things have been going great.”

“Not too great, it sounds like,” I responded, alluding to the urgency of his email and our meeting.

“Well, yeah,” he replied sheepishly. “But there issue I need help with isn’t something a co-founder could fix. It’s a technology issue. A really big one, too, and Ryan wouldn’t have been able to fix it either because it has nothing to do with us or anything in our control.”

Even though I hadn’t heard the issue, I immediately knew the problem and how to fix it because I’d seen the same thing happen the night before, and it caused me to lose my mother-in-law’s dog.

The dog and the open gate

I have a fenced-in backyard. I open my back door, my dog runs out, does his business, and then runs back in. Aside from occasional cleanup duty (doody?), it’s a wonderful luxury and makes the dog owning experience significantly better… especially when it’s raining.

My mother-in-law has a dog, too. But she doesn’t have a fenced in yard, so she always walks her dog on a leash. However, my mother-in-law was traveling that same week I was meeting the entrepreneur of this story for milkshakes, and, the night…



Aaron Dinin, PhD

I teach entrepreneurship at Duke. Software Engineer. PhD in English. I write about the mistakes entrepreneurs make since I’ve made plenty. More @