I (Caroline) have been wanting to start a company for a long time. But to find a co-founder that ticks all your boxes as well as those you didn’t even realize you needed and on top of that feels the same about you can seem about as hard as finding the love of your life. Only, for co-founders there is no Tinder or crowded bars to meet at.
Then one day something happened. I had just moved from Stockholm to London to seek out new work adventures when my old university friend Ann-Kathrin, who was about to move to Chile, called me to meet up as she happened to be in London. I soon realized she didn’t only want to meet me to catch up on old times, but to propose an idea to me. The idea to use her and my collective work experience from two very different fields and start a company together. One would think that Ann-Kathrin living in a different time zone, being pregnant with her first baby and traveling the world on a weekly basis for the UN might have felt like the wrong timing. And looking at myself, my pending career change in a new city with two other side projects following me there could have made me doubt that this idea would actually grow beyond a couple of visionary discussions over drinks.
But instead we took the leap of faith. I respected her deeply for her work, her values, her adaptability to about any situation and her determination to take matters in her own hand. And, she seemed to do the same, given that she had approached me in the first place. It felt like there was finally a person with the same grit, motivation and commitment as I would like to bring to a project. A project that two and a half years, two-job changes, three moves, two babies and a dog later would become the social start-up the White Label Project - a global design platform selling and promoting sustainable brands from developing countries.
Where I am going with this: We didn't have the most ideal starting point, timing or the perfect polished idea. We did however have the same vision - to use all our learnings and thoughts from our day jobs to bring positive change to the world. And most of all, we had constant understanding for each other’s individual situations at all times. A partnership is not about doing exactly 50% of every task and doing everything together simultaneously. But to make use of each other’s differences and to be relentlessly patient with each other when for instance meetings might be rescheduled which will happen when you live two separate lives on different sides of the globe.
I would even dare to say being apart it is the reason we got as far as we did. We embarked on the journey already knowing that the road will be bumpy, so we were tolerant and mindful from the start. Not sitting next to each other also gave us space to work things out and think ideas through individually. In case of a difference in opinions we could prepare our thoughts and communicate with each other on our next call.
If you keep finding excuses to start a project with someone, but timing doesn’t seem to be right, don’t let it stop you. Try to be resilient, flexible, empathetic and solution-oriented. Use every digital platform enabling remote collaboration to make it happen. It is rare enough to find a person that shares your ambition. And the feeling to take your idea and putting it out there is absolutely terrifying but also the best thing in the world. Our pilot project and website went live about 4 months ago. We are far from reaching our final vision and streamlining our lives to the perfect timing. But with one Skype call and about 99 What’s app voice messages a week, we are confident in time we will.