Choosing a co-founder isn’t easy. This is the person you will spend most of your time with (even more than your spouse), brainstorming, innovating, and solving problems. The co-founder partnership is totally different from any other business relationship — it’s closer and a whole lot more personal. This is why co-founder chemistry is vital to the success of any startup.
My co-founder, Ayman, is incredible. We’ve known each other for 12 years and just 5 years ago, we founded Blink22, a software development company. It’s been an amazing journey and I’m so grateful that Ayman has been by my side the entire time.
It’s all started 12 years ago when we met at college. We did everything together — studying, socializing, working on projects, and finally, graduating. We split ways shortly after graduation, taking jobs with different companies. But soon, we teamed up once again on a new project. After seeing how successful the project was, we turned our natural teamwork into a young company: Blink22. Since then, we’ve collaborated on project after project, growing our business, hiring additional team members, and acquiring new clients from around the world. As long-time friends, it seems like we’re always on the same page, always thinking the same thing for our company’s direction.
So, what’s our secret? What’s the key to our healthy co-founder relationship? There are a few, actually, some business and some personal. First and foremost:
It’s not about the money
Believe it or not, when Ayman and I started working together, our main goal wasn’t to own a business. It was to change Egypt’s software industry for the better, to create a tech company that puts its people first, cultivating a dynamic work environment and taking on projects that bring value to the community. We didn’t care about the prestige of being “bosses” and we didn’t put profits first. Instead, we’ve always wanted to serve our community and our team, ensuring their fulfillment and happiness. Ayman and I have always had unified priorities, which makes the decision-making process smooth and simple.
We care about each other’s personal lives
We believe that if you’ve built a powerful business at the expense of your family, your friends, and your health, you’re not doing it right. That’s why we prioritize our personal lives and well-being, and we encourage our team to do likewise. We hold each other accountable so that everybody at Blink22 maintains a healthy work-life balance. This way, we return to the office each day re-energized, ready to take a fresh look at our projects and come up with inventive solutions.
We never take things personal
Sometimes I’m wrong. Sometimes Ayman is wrong. And that’s okay. We’re both open to criticism and readily admit our mistakes. We take responsibility and accountability, but we never point fingers or blame each other. This just leads to disputes and hurtful words. Instead, we work together to come up with better solutions. To us, mistakes are just opportunities to grow and try something new. Without the fear of someone rebuking them for these simple mistakes, our team is confident to try out new, creative ideas.
Trust is everything
We trust each other on everything — making decisions, arranging finances, client communications, everything. This trust is borne naturally out of our years of friendship and collaboration. If Ayman is confident in his decision, I trust his judgment. And if he isn’t 100% sure, I trust that he will sit down to brainstorm alternate options with me. Even if one of us makes a decision that falls short, we don’t argue, we just get back to work collaborating on other solutions.
We embrace fun
Both in and out of work, we love to have a good time. We never take ourselves too seriously and try to look for the fun in every situation. Whether we’re developing web and mobile apps for clients, taking trips together, or hanging out after work, Ayman and I find a way to make it fun. And we bring this attitude to work too. Joking at the office, having lunch with our team, and planning team activities, we want to share our fun-loving personalities and make our entire team excited to arrive each day.
A shared goal for the Afterlife
I kept this at the end, but that doesn’t mean it’s the least important. In fact, I’d consider it the most important.
There are plenty of co-founders who can work together, trust each other, and collaborate perfectly. But here’s what’s unique about my relationship with Ayman: not only do we share the same vision for Blink22 and common interests, but we also share a goal for the afterlife. This is, I think, the thing that makes our relationship unique from most other co-founders.
Our lives and our work are all in preparation for a single question, one which Allah will ask us at the end: “How did you spend the life that I gifted you?” Both Ayman and I live and work with this question in mind, basing every action and decision on it. This draws us closer together and gives us a singular focus for both our business and personal decisions.
From college to today, it’s been a crazy journey, and sometimes quite a difficult one. Ayman and I have been through hardships, and to be honest, I’ve wanted to quit more than once. But having a supportive and encouraging co-founder relationship has helped me persevere.
An interesting story that I tell often about how we started Blink22: Back when we were working on independent projects and the company was just future plans, we planned to start Blink22 by moving our active independent projects into Blink22 projects, but all my projects suddenly stopped. Being married, I had financial responsibilities, so I was a little discouraged. But without hesitation, Ayman decided to start the company. He immediately took his total income and split it 50/50 with me. How many people in this world would do something like that? Not many. He didn’t wait until I got new projects to start Blink22, and It wasn’t even a loan, he simply gave it because he wanted to. And on that act of kindness, Blink22 was born.
And that’s why I see our relationship the kind that prophet Mohamed’s Hadith described when he said: “There are seven whom Allah will shade with His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His” and he mentioned “two men who love one another for the sake of Allah, meeting for His sake and parting for His sake.” read full Hadith here
I ask Allah that Ayman and I will be friends in Jannah (Paradise), just like we are in life.