“Where/How do I find a co-founder?” Finally, an answer: CoFoundersLab

This post was written by Michael Hughes, Business Development, @cofounderslab

Ask anyone in the startup ecosystem what common questions they hear every day from entrepreneurs, and you’ll undoubtedly hear this answer: How and where do I find a co-founder?  Statistics show that having the right business partner(s) is critical to the success of the vast majority of startups, yet it’s one of the most difficult problems to solve.  Here at CoFoundersLab, we recognize this problem and our entire mission is to better facilitate co-founder matchmaking for entrepreneurs.  We do so via two free services: an online matching platform at CoFoundersLab.comand in-person Co-FoundersWanted Meetups.  We’re committed to not just helping people find a co-founder, but rather the right co-founder.  We’re developing a robust, algorithmic, multi-dimensional matching platform that looks beyond simply complementary skill sets to other, deeper assessments like personalities, shared values, and vision for what the company can and will be. 

I joined CoFoundersLab as employee #1 in May.  I had been working at various startups, most recently as the Boston City Manager for TaskRabbit, as well as volunteering at MassChallenge, the world’s largest accelerator program and startup competition.  I met Shahab Kaviani, one of the co-founders of CoFoundersLab, at the first ‘Co-Founders Wanted of Boston’ Meetup, which happened to be hosted by MassChallenge.  Shahab started the Meetup with his own story about being a serial entrepreneur looking to start his next venture yet being unable to find the right business partner through friends and family.  He met his co-founder, Culin Tate, at the very first Meetup in late 2010 in Maryland.  Culin, also a serial entrepreneur, had recently enjoyed a successful exit of his last startup, and he shared Shahab’s frustration in finding the right co-founder for his next go around.  The two of them quickly realized that this was a big problem for all entrepreneurs, and thus CoFoundersLab was born. 

Like any good entrepreneurs, they started CoFoundersLab to solve a real problem in their own lives.  As I mingled and chatted with the 80 or so people that showed up for the first Boston Meetup, it was clear that Shahab and Culin weren’t alone.  Shahab’s passion and the tremendous opportunity left me instantly inspired, and I knew I wanted to be involved.  I already loved working with entrepreneurs at MassChallenge, and CoFoundersLab was the perfect way to turn this passion into a full-time job.

CoFoundersLab is based in Rockville, Maryland, and we recently finished up a 6-month tenure at TheFort, D.C.’s first ever startup accelerator.  The Meetups started in 2010 and are currently live in 9 markets: Maryland, Baltimore, D.C., Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Boston, NYC (Brooklyn & Manhattan), Boulder, Chicago, and Los Angeles (Pasadena & Santa Monica).  The Meetups are free and held quarterly at a minimum.  We’ll be expanding to 12-15 markets by the end of this year.  We’re proud to work with some of the biggest startup names in each market as both event hosts and marketing partners.  Some examples: TechStars in Boulder, NYUSternLoosecubes, & NYUPoly in NYC, MassChallenge & the Harvard Innovation Lab in Boston, Cross Campus & Business Technology Center of Los Angeles County in Los Angeles, and 1871 in Chicago.  I recently wrote a guest blogpost on the Harvard i-lab blog about our last Boston Meetup.

The online matching platform at CoFoundersLab.com launched at the end of 2011.  Anyone, from any industry, in any city in the U.S. or Canada can create a free profile now, and we hope to expand internationally beyond Canada soon.  The online matching platform and in-person Meetups work in tandem.  In short, people can search and connect with thousands of potential co-founders online, attend a Meetup to further the relationship with prospective co-founders they meet online, and then continue the conversation online in between the Meetups.

We’re proud to say that we’ve already made dozens of successful matches, our ultimate measure of success, and we can’t wait to make many more!  We’re excited to create the first ever co-founder recommendation engine, and our goal remains the same: help as many entrepreneurs as possible with one of the hardest, yet most critical parts to starting a business: finding the right co-founder(s).

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Opinions and statements expressed by guest bloggers are theirs alone, not opinions of The Startup America Partnership.