Techstars Boston Week 5 - Madness Over!

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This was the last week of Mentor Madness at Techstars Boston, and for the most part, everyone was breathing a sigh of relief.  Usually investors are the last ones to participate, so despite being near the end, you still have to on your game. That also meant that Workshops began; Workshops are often lead by mentors on topics in their area of expertise, and generally follow the focus of the program: Build Team, Build Product, Growth.

This week we had two:

  1. Customer Interviewing: this was a detailed presentation of how to set up customer interviews, the right questions to ask, and the questions to avoid, with an example interview done in the middle.  Super useful.
  2. The Power of the Network: a summary of how to leverage the Techstars network, and the associated tools, which include LinkedIn.  Again, super useful, and Techstars does a great job of utilizing their network in general.  While the opinions I've received on the topic are obviously biased, many would argue it's the most valuable network for entrepreneurs globally.

So, we'll start with those.

Customer Interviewing

I think this is probably one of the most overlooked skills in the entire of entrepreneurship.  Not only can customer interviews help chart your product development, sales strategy, and basically every consumer-related aspect of your business, but this is where you can find out if your startup idea is worth something in the first place.

The key takeaways:

  • Surveys can serve as validation tools, and that's about it.
  • Be as vague as possible to start - don't tell them what industry you're in, even remotely what your startup does.
  • Good interviewing is good listening - you want them to tell stories.
  • Stay away from 'shallow' (yes/no) questions.
  • Avoid "have you ever had ____ problem".
  • Always go for more "tell me about the challenges you've had with _____" (ex. note-taking).
  • Interviews should be conducted with two people, one who is clearly in charge and one who is taking notes - can enter conversation occasionally by asking "do you mind if I ask a question?".
  • You always want to dig deeper and get the stories; good follow-up questions include things like "why?" and "how often does this happen?".
  • Wait for the other person to speak and elaborate themselves - using silence is important.
  • Get people to demonstrate their stories and experiences if possible - you can then ask questions based on the demonstration.
  • Approach interview as "how can I disprove my core assumptions?" - don't be married to your value proposition.
  • Try and find the current way this person is solving your problem.
  • Can source interview people from Craigslist, Taskrabbit - you should be getting valuable information after 2 or 3 if you're doing it right, and you shouldn't have a problem filling more than 45 minutes.

Power of the Network - Techstars & Otherwise

While some of this workshop spoke about how to best leverage the Techstars network specifically, there was a lot to be gained from the LinkedIn and general networking advice:

  • Spend 10 minutes every day responding to points of contact (on LinkedIn) - congratulate people on new jobs, introduce them to someone you know in their new city, comment on their post, etc. (Go to My Network > Connections to see updates).
  • Publish blog posts on LinkedIn - particularly if you post elsewhere too; it's a great way to show off your skills to people, and to dictate your own specialties and positioning.
  • Little-used feature - you can keep notes that are private to you on first-level connections - just look at their profile and you'll see the option below their header.
  • Use Conspire to get introductions.  Look for lowest number of people in pathway, not necessarily strongest.
  • Go to My Network > Connections > Settings to integrate with other services.
  • University affiliation is a great way to turn a conversation from cold to warm, and is underutilized; check out the Advanced Search in detail.
  • Use My Network > Find Alumni to source talent, or VCs/investors.
  • Search former employees of a certain company to get intelligence and background information.
  • Look at who has viewed your profile - if you don't have the right people viewing it, change your profile.
  • Use your skill endorsements as a gauge for how other people view your skill set and expertise.
  • Look at who is the most-viewed in your network - they have the highest social influence and capital; utilize this.

Founder Stories

I won't say much about the Founder Stories this week, since they were so personal and emotional.  That being said, they did really drive home a few key points for me:

  • There is more to life than startups, or career success, or pretty much anything except family and loved ones.  Never lose perspective.
  • Desperation is a great motivator; use it as a tool (and by this, I mean implement it artificially whenever possible).
  • The arguments against immigrants in any country are stupid.  From an economic standpoint, they create disproportionate value.  Aside from that, see point 1 - these are all people seeking the same things as you are.
  • Obstacles are just that - obstacles.  And yours are probably much less daunting than many that many, many, other people have faced and overcome. In other words, if you think your life is hard, it probably isn't.
  • People are amazingly resilient.

I'll use the opportunity to point back to one of my favorite articles from Paul Graham, titled Life Is Short.

The end of Mentor Madness is a net positive for me, and I'll probably dedicate a separate post or two to the whole process.  In the meantime, you can refer to Deb McGargle's post about it.

Techstars Boston Week 4 - Efficiency

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If you haven't read any of the previous posts, start with my post about Techstars Week 1. Efficiency was the key in Techstars last week, and with that in mind, I'm going to make this post mostly in bullet points.

Mentor Madness continued last week, though everyone was starting to try and reduce the number of meetings to key personalities, and investors starting making their rounds.

Sales is Still King for Techstars Companies

This point was hammered home yet again, throughout the week.  Not only does sales actually involve a lot of things - customer interviews, verbalizing and articulating your value proposition and benefits, convincing customers to buy, and actually closing - but it's the true determinant of product/market fit, investment readiness, and a host of other good things.

In essence, if you can prove some sales success, a lot of other things will become much easier.  Financing, hiring...you get the gist.  And more often than not, teams are still getting their heads around the fact that they are ready to increase their sales volume, and don't require more product development or hiring, or other things on their priority list.  They just need to sell.  It will probably take some more time before it really hits home with everyone.

Techstars companies in general are a little closer to product/market fit than a lot of startups, but the lesson is that you're probably ready to sell before you think you are.

Closing is a Skill

We had a great closing workshop (provided internally by a Techstars participant) this week that lasted all of 20 minutes.  Seriously.  And the end result is a clear, repeatable strategy that can be deployed by anyone who is reasonably persistent, knows your product and value proposition, and is willing to practice.  The notes from that workshop:

  • You want to be "solution-oriented expert" - not salesperson.
    • You listen to the problems of the customer.
    • Only go over features that are relevant to them - you need to be able to link features to pain points.
    • They have to see the value - cost savings or benefit outweighing cost.
  • Time to close: talk about pricing, ask for the close - "are you going to pay with Visa, Mastercard, American Express?".
    • Next step: shut up; need to give them time to process.
    • First one to talk loses (within reason).
  • Be prepared for objections; prepare a list of objections and rebuttals beforehand.
    • Try and address these early in the call (ex. ask early if there is anyone else you need on the call to make the decision).
    • Don't offer extra rebuttals - they may have more objections.
    • Know your competition so you know why you're better.
    • You have to hold their hand and lead them through the process.
    • Outline all steps to buying for them.
  • If rejected, make sure to ask "is there anything I could have done to get your business?" - learn from the rejection.
  • If they say they need to check with someone, ask "are there any problems you can foresee?" - always get as much information as possible.
  • Use "second voicing" - pretend your manager is next to you when you check on discounts, other options, etc.
  • Create urgency - limited time price offer, cap on number of customers, etc.
  • Use social proof - show them reviews and testimonials.
  • Use the feel, felt, found technique: "I understand how you feel, lots of others have felt that way, what we have found is when app is used it's easy, and we have a great support system".
  • Make sure if you don't close, they have an action item for the next step.

The only thing that needs to change between sales jobs is knowing the industry and the product.

Extra Resources

Close.io Blog (particularly Steli Efti's writing)

Predictable Revenue - Aaron Ross & Marylou Tyler

Founder Story Insight

This week was an external founder, a former Techstars alumni, who came in to share their insights.  As usual, it was a brilliant story, and there was lots of great anecdotes.  In keeping with the efficiency theme of this post:

  • Talk to customers.
  • Celebrate all the small victories.
  • If you're building a company, you need to go all-in - no distractions.
  • Go where your customers are to build your company.
  • Mentor sessions - ask lots of questions, then be ruthless, and pick 3 or 4 to build deep relationships with.
  • Raise money when you can, not when you need to.
  • Raise from people who want you to succeed as a CEO.
  • Team is important, but they are always second to the customer;
    • Never hire people you wouldn't want at your birthday party.
    • Your job will become miserable the moment you break this rule.
    • Hire people smarter than yourself and who have more experience than yourself.
    • Hire people who inspire you to overcome the shitty days.
  • Enjoy the journey.
  • A personal connection with your investor(s) is critical.
  • There is a big difference between being stubborn as a founder, versus a lack of self-awareness, and this will scare off VCs if not managed.
  • In choosing between customer segments: How big is the pain? How easy is it to sell? How many people are there? Do they have money?

Growth Hacking

This week also marked an interesting week in chatting about "growth hacking" techniques with both mentors and companies.  For those who don't know what growth hacking is, here's a good resource to learn more.  I'll be posting more about this in the coming weeks, as I do some work with companies on this topic.

Until next week!

Techstars Boston Week 3 - Sales are King

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If you haven't read any Techstars posts yet, start with my summary of Techstars Week 1. This was another Mentor Madness week at Techstars, and while the pace picked up even further both in terms of number of sessions and mentors, the productivity in the sessions improved even more.  A combination of better mentors and a better understanding on both sides of how to make the most of the sessions made this possible.  And for those of us sitting in on the meetings, there was even more to be learned - particularly on the subject of sales, and why you should have them.

"I'd rather sell something I have to build, than build something I have to sell"

...was my favorite quote of the week.  And it summarized the sentiment of many of the mentors; get out and sell!  Not that teams aren't doing it already.  But as one mentor pointedly asked, "Are you a product founder or a sales founder?"; the answer, more often than not, was product founder.  But in my opinion, the sales founder (or manager) is critical, and will more often than not determine the outcome of the company in the early stages more than the product founder.

On more than one occasion, when the root of an issue, problem or roadblock was reached, the result was founders realizing they don't need to build the next feature, or refine the product, or build the sales team, or anything else, besides actually selling.

Big Teams Help Early Sales in Techstars

More often than not, those teams which are doing the most selling are those who are larger.  The bigger teams (10-16 people) have personnel who are dedicated to selling, and don't have to be involved in the day-to-day operations of Techstars, including Mentor Madness meetings, and the result is that they are selling full-time.  Smaller teams struggle to find the time and resources to get all the tasks done they would like, and sales often suffers as a result.  Even within these teams, mentors often felt that sales should be a higher priority, and while it sometimes may be a time-consuming or frustrating process (meetings, calls, emails, etc. don't always feel productive), ultimately sales are the strongest metric and validation of your product or idea, and key to ongoing success in the business.

(Caveat: often larger teams are large because they've figured out selling.)

Generally, this week, the advantages of having a great salesperson, or people within the team dedicated to selling full-time were particularly noticeable. If you can build a larger founding group, or at least one that has one completely sales-dedicated person, it will pay off down the road.  Alternatively, some of the teams here have realized that the CEO/founder(s) is not a strong sales person, have brought in dedicated salespeople, and have quickly seen the rewards.

Asking Questions is an Art

And yet, it's also so simple.  One of my favorite sessions this week was a lesson in just how easy - yet rare - it is to ask great, in depth questions.  Mostly, it just revolves around asking "Why?", way more times that you think is appropriate.  "What are you doing on the sales front?"..."We're focusing on building the product and relationship with our first big client"..."Why?"..."They're a big client, and there's big potential with them in the future"..."Are you developing your old product still?"..."Yes"..."Why?"..."We don't want to leave our old clients"..."Why not focus on your current product and client, and closing more sales with people like them"..."Uh...I don't know"..."Why?"..."We just wanted to make sure we nail it with this client"..."So why not sell others in the meantime and roll out the product to them too"..."Um...yeah. That sounds good."

A long example, but the result is clear - asking "Why?" (and slight variations of it), even when it's uncomfortable for those across from you, will often lead to some self-reflection or realizations that would not have come if the first answer is accepted.  I was surprised (and to some extent amused) during these sessions, at just how powerful this can be.

Interestingly, this tactic is often quoted in classics like How to Win Friends and Influence People as a tactic to be a great conversationalist - just keep asking "Why?", and push the other person to elaborate.  Eventually some very interesting things will probably surface.

Founder Stories: Varied Backgrounds, Testing Ideas, and the Infinite Wisdom of Sailing

Founder Stories are quickly becoming one of the highlights of my week, and not just because there's free food and beer involved.  This week several founders spoke, and I was once again reminded at just how varied the backgrounds of entrepreneurs in general, and particularly those here, are.  Multiple languages, countries, childhoods, educations, and more were highlighted, and while these are very different people in general, there are many similarities in the way they run companies, the questions they have, and their reason for being entrepreneurs.

Obviously the uniting factor between them is their passion for building great companies, but from my perspective, it just highlighted how valuable varied experiences and backgrounds can be in building your company, in a program like this, and in building your peer group as an entrepreneur in general.

As a sidenote, one of the founders told a story about their time sailing, and a particularly harrowing experience that taught them a larger life lesson.  As an avid sailor and enthusiast of all things water-related, I could relate particularly well, but I also found it amusing at how many metaphors sailing can provide, and on a larger level, the value of participating in individual sports, sport in general, and being put in stressful situations.  But those things will have to be saved for another post. And of course the story also made me want to go sailing.

The stories this week also gave some insight into where great startup ideas come from.  There were people who stumbled into their startup, others who tried something they deemed crazy at the time, and others still who built previous experience in a field in building their company.

The lessons from these stories can be summarized as follows:

  • Start small and test your idea - crowdfunding, a short trial with little to lose, get a paying customer, etc. - whatever you do, find a way to test it at little risk to yourself.

  • If you figure out you're onto something, be aggressive; once the test is done, don't forget to keep pushing.

  • Surround yourself with great people: most of the startup ideas had some element of support from others - whether it be friends who will encourage you instead of discourage, family who will chip in a few thousand because they believe in you, or a partner who encourages you to take some time off work and test your idea - surrounding yourself with the right people can make all the difference.

It's easy to see the learning of teams beginning to accelerate, with more productive mentor sessions and large projects being undertaken by many companies.  KPIs and metrics are beginning to become a larger focus, and it should be exciting to see the growth focus begin to become central.

The summary from this week:

  1. ALWAYS SELL - selling makes (most) everything better.

  2. Having a team to which you can delegate can keep your momentum and pace high - consider when building your initial team.

  3. Asking great questions, and having great conversations, is often just a matter of asking "Why?" a few more times than feels comfortable.

  4. Don't forget to find out about fellow entrepreneurs, and surround yourself with great people.

  5. Always go sailing whenever possible.

  6. In the beginning: test your idea, sell first, and surround yourself with great people (do I need to say this again?).

Check out the learnings from Techstars Week 4 here.

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Techstars Week 2 - Settling In

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If you haven't read the previous post, start with Techstars Week 1, and then make sure to check out Techstars Week 3 as well. This week in Techstars, Mentor Madness started, and it is aptly titled; complete mayhem for the Associates, founders and managing directors for a couple days, tempered only by the great (and thankless) job of those that were organizing it.

One of the great benefits of being an Associate is that you get to sit in on the mentor sessions and take notes for the companies and mentors.  What that really means, if you’re paying attention, is that you can get to know the companies and mentors strengths and weaknesses intimately, and make a pretty good connection with a wide variety of mentors.

One of the more interesting results besides the obvious benefits above, is that you get to see how companies approach mentors, and the resulting dynamic.  Both companies and mentors improve as time goes on, and they learn how to make the most of the 25 minutes given.

But the underlying lessons are applicable to much more than just one-on-one meetings - networking, investor meetings, dating – all are applicable in some ways.  However, the following advice pertains most to meetings where you hope to gain advice or mentorship, and have a limited time (as most meetings should be).

Getting the Most out of Techstars (or Any) Mentoring

The best meetings were inevitably the result of a several things:

  1. Preparation beforehand: founders knew the mentor’s background and skill set, and didn’t need to waste extra time on introductions. It also let them pinpoint the areas they thought the mentor could help with, and let them ask interesting, specific questions.
  2. Willingness to show vulnerability: the quicker teams realized that they didn’t need to ‘sell’ the business, more interesting topics like how much their bounce rate sucked, or how many customers they lost on step 3 of their funnel, and the resulting advice is much more actionable and useful. Showing vulnerability and asking for advice puts the other person in a position of power and often will elicit much more interesting responses.
  3. Organization: Those teams that came in with a 3-minute pitch designed for this person in particular spent way less time communicating what their business actually did, and more on solving the issues they were facing. Some founders in early meetings spent 12-18 minutes just explaining.
  4. Pointed questions: the most awkward meetings happened when founders described their business and then said “So….”. The mentor just learned about their business – they don’t know what to say. Ask questions!  Pointed questions about the business, related to the background of the mentor, always produced a new direction for the discussion.  They don’t have to be long questions, but once you get the conversation moving in the right direction, more questions will present themselves.  Not only does this make it easier for the mentor, but you will get much more actionable advice from this.
  5. Follow up: The last thing, if you liked the mentor and want to follow up with them, is to make sure you clarify some actionable items for you to follow up on after the meeting, and then DO THEM. You’ll get lots of advice during the meeting.  Sometimes the follow up will simply be reminding them to make an introduction, but other times you can say “I’ll complete X, and then if you’re comfortable, I’d love to meet again to discuss Y”.  It gives both you and the mentor something to look forward to, and specific expectations.

Founder Resilience

We started what is supposed to become a weekly tradition where a founder speaks about their life story – whatever aspects they care to – for anywhere from ten minutes to half an hour.  I don’t envy the person who speaks next week, as this week will be tough to beat.

There were many lessons learned from the story.  Perhaps the highest-level lesson driven home was what I believe is one of the biggest truths in entrepreneurship – persistence leads to success.  Of course there are qualifiers – I think you have to be reasonably smart, realistic, willing to learn quickly and often, and a whole bunch of other things, but in the end the largest contributor to success will be persistence.

This speaker had lived in most of the largest, busiest cities in the world, founded and shuttered companies, weathered two financial crises, and bought a gold mine, to name a few of the highlights.  And he’s now back at Techstars, looking to start another company.  In my mind, and likely his accountant’s, he’s already a grand success – but he’s back, which says a lot about the spirit of successful (aka persistent) entrepreneurs.

Team Composition

Something else that was really highlighted to me this week, mostly because I really got to know most of the teams, is the caliber of the individuals that make up the teams that get into Techstars.  Founders here range from early 20s to 40s, Harvard Business School and MIT are both well-represented, as are a handful of other Ivy Leagues, and there are multiple founders who have succeeded previously.

All Techstars founders and participants have all accomplished a lot.  We should all strive to build teams made of these types of people when building startups, and they are clearly the reason the companies have been successful, and here at Techstars.  Don’t settle when building your company – figure out a way to inspire people and get them on board.  This was one of the biggest problems I faced when trying to found a company in Montreal, but as time goes on, you realize there are many ways to find these people, which I’ll probably share in another post.

That being said, the theory I’ve written about before [LINK] holds true – these are all amazing people, but there is no reason you can’t also be one.

Prototyping Tools

Tons of UI/UX work is being done by the companies here at Techstars, for various reasons – some are re-branding, some are focusing on increasing inbound conversion, some are focusing on new markets, and the list goes on.

As a non-technical founder, one of the things I struggled with early on was how to bring the prototypes and designs I had in my head to fruition, and I found out about several awesome prototyping tools this week that I wanted to share (I don't get any commission on these):

Another tip - if you're hiring a freelance designer, get a recommendation from a great designer.

Relationships as a Priority

Another topic covered during this week’s Techstars founder life story was relationships – something I don’t think is talked about enough in entrepreneurship and high-stress, time-consuming careers (think investment banking and law, for example).  The summary: you have to make your relationship a priority and tackle it just as you would any business or other challenge in life.  I personally think entrepreneurs have the ability to be great in relationships – generally their mindset is one of constant improvement and monitoring.  In a recent Tim Ferriss podcast, he even talked about a friend who had his wife grade him on four aspects of his relationship quarterly.  That might be an extreme example, but the point is that for people who have careers which occupy a large portion of their lives, it often takes significant conscious effort and prioritization to make relationships work.  The story this week demonstrated just how great things can be when that happens, and in this case (as I’m sure in many), once you have things settled on the relationship front, it can often lend a lot of support to your career and overall stability.

In Summary:

  1. Getting mentorship: be honest, ask pointed questions, be efficient and follow up.

  2. Resilience plays a huge role in success in entrepreneurship.

  3. Don't settle when building your team.

  4. You can build a prototype without being technical - check out the tools above.

  5. If a relationship is important to you, it needs to be treated as a priority equally important as your business.

Read about Techstars Week 3 here.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Advice for Finding a Cofounder

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Cofounder conflict was the reason I recently left the startup I'd spent 11 months of my life building, which you can read about here. I've heard, asked and read about how to select a cofounder, and usually the advice comes down to two things:

  1. Only found with people you've known for a long time (professionally or otherwise), who you know you work well with (ie. friends).
  2. Don't found with friends, as this can cause conflict down the road.

I think the answer is a combination of both.

My First Cofounder Experience

When I was in my last year of university, and had started to explore entrepreneurship, I was looking for cofounders.  The problem was, I didn't really know any.  Those that I'd spent time working with in school were all mechanical engineers.  My roommates were in the sciences, or other engineers.  My friends were from class - mechanical engineers.

I was looking for the typical startup team: hipster, hacker, hustler (though I think these terms are almost cliché now, and I dislike using them).

Being a mechanical engineer, at the time I hadn't really figured out my role - hustler I guess?  Anyway, I had the ideas, and knew I could pitch and solve problems, so I wanted to lead a team.

Eventually, I founded with a friend who I'd met through social events for scholarship students who was working on his CS degree, and we searched for a graphic designer.  Eventually we found one, and she was actually great.  But the result of that team?  We had different priorities, and both the other members went off to work.  We still remain great friends, but our startup didn't go anywhere.

So what were the problems with that team?  Well, we had zero experience.  Or very little anyway.  And our goals and expectations weren't aligned.  I'd built up some personal runway from summer jobs, while one of our cofounders had student debt to pay off, and the other wanted some experience working.  We ignored this to start, but our future was doomed from the beginning.

My Second Cofounder Experience

While you can read the details here, my second cofounder experience didn't work out either.

This time I founded with a team that, on paper, had great complimentary skills, and way more experience.  Early on, we agreed on general areas of responsibility, which were based both on our interests and our perceived strengths, which were essentially based on our resumes.  We hadn't worked together before, but we got to know each other a little bit, and everyone seemed pleasant.

In the end, our responsibilities started to overlap, we had different expectations for the level of work we produced and the attention to detail, and the trust that is essential for good partnerships began to deteriorate.  The result was discomfort for other team members, and ultimately I stepped away when there was disagreement about rearranging roles.

Who's a Good Cofounder?

So who do I suggest you found with?

Found with friends, but be prepared to lose them.

What is essential for a good founding team?

  • Trust and respect

  • Confidence in the abilities of each other

  • Personalities that blend well

  • Complimentary skill sets

To truly evaluate most of these characteristics, you're going to have to spend some significant time with each other.  In my case, some of the current friends I would consider founding with are old hockey teammates, or longtime friends.  I wouldn't consider someone I just met as a cofounder, regardless of their pedigree.  Employees you can fire - it's much more difficult with cofounders.

So why do you have to be prepared to lose them?  Because at some point, you may need to make a decision that is best for the company, and that might mean something bad for them.  Like being removed.  If you can't separate your business judgement from your ties as a friend, you'll be screwed.  It's happened to me.  If they're really that great a friend, then they will understand anyway.

Finding Your Cofounder

So you're like me 18 months ago, and you want to found a company, but you don't have any potential cofounders.  How do you find them?

An unfortunate truth for a young wannabe founder: you can't just find them.  You're going to have to put some time in.  The time you spend building a great network and getting to know cofounders is going to be much more valuable than starting with someone you don't know, and then ending up killing the company a few months later.

Step one: put yourself in a position where you are working with a bunch of other like-minded people.

For me, this breakthrough came with The Founder Institute.  50 of us started, and only 14 finished, most of them founders of their own companies.  So how did that help me?  Well, I found my cofounder there, and while it didn't work out, you're immediately in a group of 50 people who are interested in entrepreneurship, which is a start.  Second, these people didn't all drop out at once - they dropped out over time, and during the process, you get to work with them, see their work habits and abilities, and generally get to know each other.  The reverse is true as well - people will be much more likely to want to found with you when you demonstrate your value.  I was great at pitching during The Founder Institute - this impressed a lot of people, and got them past the fact that I was a young guy with seemingly little experience.

Other areas to get this type of experience?  For students or recent grads, try The Next 36.  Try getting a job with a startup company near you (http://www.builtin.com/).  Try getting a job as an analyst or an intern at a local accelerator or venture capital firm (in Montreal, try FounderFuel or Real Ventures).  You will immediately be exposed to people interested in entrepreneurship and get to demonstrate your value to them, and evaluate their value too.

Step two: network like crazy.

There are a million (okay, not quite) meetups and events centered around tech and startups in cities worldwide.  Need a technical cofounder?  Go to the Ruby meetup and try to make friends.  Need a marketing guy?  Go to the digital marketing meetup.  Go to Startup Open House. The key here is that these are relationships you are going to cultivate over time - don't expect to immediately find your cofounder.  And make sure you follow up with these people.  Go out for coffee occasionally, stay in touch, go to more networking events together, maybe even go out for a beer (or five).

Step three: reach into your past.

Though most of the friends I graduated with were getting the same degree as I was, some of my old friends from home, or those that I grew up playing sports with, and generally those who were old friends, graduated with complimentary degrees.  Some of them had even expressed interest in entrepreneurship.  When you're a year or two out of school, you should have plenty of friends around your age who have graduated from university, but are maybe in a different location, or already working.  Reach out and see what they're up to.  Eventually tell them what you're up to, and see if they've ever thought about entrepreneurship.  Again, make sure to follow up.  Ambitious young professionals, particularly if you are (or were) friends, will move cities for a great opportunity (ie. your future startup together).

Don't forget: you're going to have to put some time into this.  If you're still in university, and thinking about what you'll be doing afterwards, that's even better!  You can be all ready by the time you graduate.  The same rules apply to you as above, you can just look in some different places as well - go to the CS events and hackathons, and find those that are interested in starting a company after graduating.  Go to the business competitions and find the marketing and sales people who are interested in really developing that product they sold to judges in the pitch competition.  Hackathons are also a great opportunity to work together and get to know each other

Startup Weekends are another hackathon-like experience which you can use to get to know other people interested in entrepreneurship, or evaluate how your potential cofounders work.

Here's a great link summarizing a bunch of resources for entrepreneurs in Montreal which you can use to help you, and Google can help you if you're in other cities.

Don't forget: found with friends, but be prepared to lose them.