Your co-founder is like your spouse. In fact, you may see him or her more than your spouse for the first few years of your startup, so it’s important to choose carefully. Yet people don’t, and companies with loads of potential die painful exploding deaths simply because the co-founders didn’t get along.
This is why Shahab Kaviani and Culin Tate started CoFoundersLab, it’s the eHarmony of the startup founder world. Neither of them are Israeli and they aren’t located there either. However, one of the first countries they are expanding to outside of the US is Israel – and that’s why I got the pitch. Well, that and the fact Robin Wauters was traveling last week.
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The CoFoundersLab platform has helped launch over 100 companies, and made more than 25,000 introductions. The online platform is available globally as of last week, and the plan is to grow the in-person events from 30 cities to 50 this year.
I asked Shahab some questions:
Where did the idea come from?
“After seven years as a co-founder of my first startup, I thought about what the most important factor of our success was, I realized it was the founding team. Then I thought about how people are finding teams and realized it was very chaotic and not very objective.
“My hunch was the same impact that Match.com had on romantic relationships could be done for business partnerships; enabling people to think objectively and find deeper dimensions on how complimentary they are before emotions get in the way.”
Co-founders are like marriage partners – what makes you think co-founders lab will make happy marriages?
“So far about 100 partnerships have been formed, we know of a handful who have been accepted to accelerators, and most of the partnerships are still alive. It’s still early to see what the resulting company’s performance will be but we’re trying to track our startups.
“My theory is that when you choose your partner based on complimentary skills, and common goals and vision, that will develop a stronger foundation that friends or colleagues who just like each other, and in many cases lack the diversity which is essential for founding teams. We typically are attracted to those who resemble us and are in our networks, yet investors can tell you diversity is key to high performing teams.”
Are you doing anything to support the founder courting process?
“Yes, in addition to the online matching service (which is free), we facilitate in-person meetings, offer specialized content on the subject, a personality assessment test, and professional consultation to ensure you choose the best partner.”
What about helping push women into the co-founder role?
“We are trying to work with two communities, one is veterans and the other are women. e.g. we recently hosted a webinar with Founding Moms to encourage them to launch new businesses and what to look for in a co-founder.”
The way it works is simple, go to the site and start creating your profile.
The choices are simple enough. Maybe even too simple. But this is still a new venture, so I’m sure things will evolve.
I’m surprised that it lists “business plan” and not “business model”.
At the end of it all you take an assessment test as to your style. I didn’t find appropriate answers for most of the questions, so I just filled it out the best I could – this is definitely the weakest part of the process.
Still, something is better than nothing. It will be interesting to see how CoFoundersLab fairs in producing strong startup founders.