How To Find The Perfect Partner (In Business)


February 19, 2018 | BY Lee Williamson

Valentine’s Day is in the rear-view mirror for another year, but the usual deluge of “finding the perfect partner” content got us thinking about the path to the second most important partner in your life: your business partner.

Sadly, there’s no Cosmo quiz with all the answers for finding your ideal match. It’s a case of trial and error—and in some cases a bit of dumb luck, too.

We asked five Generation T listers to give us their take on what makes the perfect partner in business. As expected, finding someone who shares your vision and complements your skills were top of the list of priorities, but not always for the reasons we were expecting—and they were far from the only factors to consider.

And because this couldn’t be a Valentine’s Day-related article without it, we also asked each Gen.T lister to tell the story of how they met their business partner.


Lindsay Jang

Lindsay Jang is the co-founder of restaurants Ronin and Yardbird, gym Topfit and media platform Missbish

What attributes should one look for in a potential business partner? 
Find someone whose skill set is polarisingly different to your own. What's the point in having a partner who can do the exact same thing as you? 

How did you meet your co-founder? 
I've known Matt, my partner in F&B, since I was 18. We met working in the same skate and snow shop in Calgary, Canada, in 1999. I met Gillian and Nicole, my partners in Missbish, through mutual friends I made at Yardbird. We're all one big happy family!

How To Find The Perfect Partner (In Business)

Ruth Chao

Ruth Chao co-founded digital creative agency Indicube with fellow Generation T lister Antonia Li. Last year, Indicube was acquired by multinational agency PBB Creative, where Chao remains as partner and creative director

What attributes should one look for in a potential business partner? 
The perfect partner to me is one who possesses complementary skills and shares the same vision. Equally important is to have a natural chemistry—working hard while having a great time doing so makes the many work marathons all the more fun and sustainable.

How did you meet your co-founder? 
Antonia has been a close friend of mine since our early teenage years. Our mutual understanding, together with our shared vision to deliver top-notch creativity, is what kick-started Indicube.


Jamie Chiu

Jamie Chiu is co-founder of The Brightly Project, which harnesses the power of technology to help troubled teens, detect adolescent depression and prevent bullying and suicide. She co-founded the company with her boyfriend, Mark Altosaar

What attributes should one look for in a potential business partner? 
An important factor to consider is whether your potential co-founder’s life circumstances will allow you to create—and run—a company the way you want to. When I was assembling my team, I met plenty of talented people who fully shared my passion for helping youth. Because most investors I spoke with weren’t interested in my approach, and I wasn’t interested in the invest-scale-exit model, my only option was to slowly build the business, which meant no salaries and lots of risk. This sadly had the consequence of a potential co-founder and I parting ways. She was amazing, but as the sole support for her ageing mother, her hands were tied as she needed a salary from day one.

How did you meet your co-founder? 
Mark and I met the classic Hong Kong way—on a junk boat. On one of our dates, I was telling him about how I was frustrated that it would take three weeks to get the results of a suicide screening I had just administered at a school that morning. That was when Mark, who is an engineer, helped me problem-solve and look at how I could do things differently. When we looked around at what was “state-of-the-art” for youth mental health screening, we realised that there was a huge opportunity to make things so much better for schools and teens. That was the moment we said, “We have to do this”.

How To Find The Perfect Partner (In Business)

Justin Sweeting

Justin Sweeting is the co-founder of Magnetic Asia, the organisation behind music festival Clockenflap

What attributes should one look for in a potential business partner? 
The key is having a truly shared and aligned vision so everyone is pulling in the same direction. Getting there can take many shapes and configurations I’m sure, though in our own case I’d say that we’ve benefitted from the fact that we came together with different skill sets, personalities and backgrounds, with a healthy mutual respect for what each person brings to the table.

How did you meet your co-founders? 
Jay [Forster] and I met while both working on the Rockit festival in the early 2000s. Jay and Mike [Hill] were already close friends and conspirators through their electronic music project Robot. Once we all connected, it was clear we had the same aims, standards and ethos on how to try to realise the vision.


Michelle Sun                            

Michelle Sun is the co-founder of First Code Academy, an organisation that teaches young children to code and create their own apps

What attributes should one look for in a potential business partner? 
Find someone with an aligned vision but complementary skills and personality. The shared vision sets you and your business partner on the path towards the same goal, which can bring perspective when differences of opinion crop up along the way. Complementary skill sets and personality traits can help you identify your own blind spots, so you hire a more well-rounded team.

How did you meet your co-founder? 
I met my co-founder at a startup brunch organised by mutual friends. After staying in touch for two years, we decided to work together to build First Code Academy. 

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