Sometimes you have a good idea but no one to build it with. Sometimes you have no idea but you just want to build something. Sometimes you have a legit company but need a technical cofounder. Sometimes you have a legit product but need a business guy to make it into a company.
Needing a co-founder is a fairly unique quandary with a narrow pool of potential users. Which makes it somewhat impressive that CoFoundersLab, an online matchmaking service for co-founders, has amassed 10,000 users.
For a consumer-facing app, this would be considered a failure. For a very specific B2B niche service, it’s not. VC’s estimate anywhere from 2000 to 5000 startups are founded each year. CoFoundersLab founder Shahab Kaviani says he estimates the app has made several hundred successful matches. More than 25,000 people on CoFoundersLab have connected via message.
Given the importance of network effects for a site like CoFoundersLab, the company quickly acquired competing sites FounderMatchup, which it shut down, and Techcofounder, which is still live and operating. It’s biggest competitor now is probably FounderDating, an invite-only site which last year launched an education-focused vertical.
There’s no skirting the importance of finding the right co-founder for your business — venture capitalist’s blogs often compare it to marriage. So it makes sense that CoFoundersLab serves up co-founder suggestions similar to an online dating site. It even allows users to take a personality test which it factors into its matches. And similar to dating sites, users can pay $50 a month for a pro account which distinguishes pro them from the crowd. The average time to find a co-founder is one to two months, Kaviani estimates.
The largest chunk of CoFoundersLab’s users are looking for someone to join their idea. A quarter are looking to join someone else’s start and 29 percent are open to either. Developers, designers and engineers make up around 35 percent of members; biz dev is 45 percent and the rest are more specific roles.
The idea of founder dating is not new. Venture firms often schedule meetups for potential cofounders to connect and start a-founding. But making it into a business is a new twist.
CoFoundersLab has now built branded, white-labeled versions of its portal for clients, similar to what project-connection site Collabfinder has begun doing for colleges and organizations. CoFoundersLab has now built internal portals for Harvard, Columbia, NYU, The Founder Institute, Startup America and TechStars, Kaviani says. The company also holds regular meetups in a number of cities to foster offline connections.
CoFoundersLab graduated from The Fort, a DC accelerator, last year.