Each day on CollabFinder, new connections are made. The site, quietly launched with a seed investment from betaworks a few weeks ago, has a simple goal — to help people collaborate on projects. Founders can search for their co-founder soul mates. Scientists can find designers to work with. Poets can find musicians to work with. And so on. The only people who aren’t welcome, founder Sahadeva Hammari says, are MBAs. “We don’t want the people on CollabFinder to have people coming to them who can’t contribute to the project and just want to be ‘the idea guy,’ he says. The goal is to facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration.
It was born out of the the cold emailing that Hammari has used to build his career as a human conduit for connections. He got his first job at Squidoo, the topic-based social media site, on a cold email. His was active with a site called Jelly, allowed you to invite strangers into your house. The idea of strangers with common interests reaching out to one another has been a thread throughout his career.
The problem with other sites aimed at helping strangers meet each other, like Highlight, is that most people have issues keeping up with their existing networks of friends. We aren’t desperate for new connections with random strangers. But we do want to connect with people when we need something from them. Thus, the art of the double-sided opt-in email intro.
So Hammari built a site to easily connect over projects they were working on. The interface allows users to scroll through people quickly, as opposed to toggling across large About.me profiles. CollabFinder has bare bones profile pages, as well as project pages and chat functionality. “We don’t want to create another social network,” he says.
The projects range from fun and silly to actual businesses. The founders of Maker’s Row, a Brooklyn-based business that helps young companies source manufacturing from US factories, met on CollabFinder. Robert Lenne, a designer at Art.sy, started a group of people interested in building board games on the CollabFinder. Christina Mercando, a designer at Hunch found an engineer to help her with a side project. The site boasts 1655 collaborators.
Right now it sounds a little too inside the New York tech scene, mostly because Hammari has done little promotion outside of his friends. But there are plans to expand CollabFinder’s user base to universities and governments. Which ties into the site’s business model. Next month the site will be cash flow positive, thanks to partnerships with School of Visual Arts‘s Interactive design department, NYC.gov, and others. In these instances, CollabFinder powers an internal people-connector to allow for greater collaboration in large, siloed organizations.