Founding Partner vs Co-Founder: What’s the difference?

Confused between the usage of founding partner and co-founder. Is it correct to say A & B are founding partners of the company OR A & b are the co-founders of the company. It is a conundrum.

Let us explore the usage, meaning and difference between the two.

How does a Founding Partner differ from a Co-Founder?

At the very onset let us clarify that there is no difference between Founding Partners & Co-Founders. They are different terms to refer to the same thing.

Let us look at the different terms their meanings and examples to understand them.




Founding Partners

A team of people, minimum two, who have together started an entity are together known as founding partners. 

Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne are founding partners of Apple Inc.


A Person who along with other co-founder's is responsible for the start of a new enterprise.

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc.

As is clear from the table there is no Founding Partner vs. Co-Founder.

In fact it will be apt to write Founding Partner = Co-Founder.

Difference between Founder & Founding Partner/Co-Founder

However, it is important to clarify that when we refer to ‘the Founder’, it means that the organization in question has a single Founder. There was one person who was responsible in the birth of the said company.

For example,  Colonel Harland Sanders is the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

The difference Founder & Founding Partner/Co-Founder is that the former is singular and latter plural.

Thus, if there are multiple people who have together started the company then all of them are founding partners or co-founder. But, if a single person is responsible for starting the company then he/she will be the founder.

Can there be a founder and a co founder?

Yes, it is possible that in a company there can be both a founder and co-founder. The initial idea for the company may be conceived by a single person, know as ‘the founder’. He/She may invite others to help take off the new initiative from ideation stage to reality. All those who join in on the idea and help start the company are the co-founders.

Perks of being a Founding Partner

The perks of being a founding partner are:

  • One may get a leading position in the management team.
  • One may even go on to fill board seats for the company.
  • Gets stock valued at the original in-cost.
  • With a higher stock valuation, there is less dilution for the early shareholders.
  • A fonder is immortalized as part of the institution’s history. CEO’s will come and go, but Jeff Bezos will forever be know as the founder of Amazon.

As a solo entrepreneur, it is really difficult to bring success to the startup, so in this case, skilled people who can manage different operations of the startup are a necessity. If one is good at management, the other one will complement with his product development skills, the other with marketing, etc., etc.

Characteristics of being a Co-Founder

  • The co-founders share equity, rather than having sole possession of it.
  • They are important in the way they complement the roles of each other in the team. If one is good at management, the other one will complement with his product development skills, the other with marketing, etc., etc. Collectively, they reduce the risk factors.
  • Each co-founder comes with the responsibility of working ‘together’.

Hope, now you will not have any trouble using the terms Founding Partner, Co-Founder and Founder.

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