The biggest culprit to a startup failure is a dysfunctional founding team. Intimidation alone of finding the right team kills many new ventures before they had a chance. The D.C.-based startup CoFoundersLab has addressed this issue by taking the guesswork out of matchmaking by introducing scientific methods, deep research and algorithms that have proven to lead to successful matches. They have partnered with Cross Campus to bring education and offline matchmaking events to Santa Monica quarterly.CoFoundersLab was created by Shahab Kaviani after he left an 8-year run at the successful startup HyperOffice.
“I wanted to give back to my community in the D.C. Metro area,” said Kaviani. “The reason I am doing this is because this is the way I can have the biggest impact on helping entrepreneurship become more successful.”
It all started with one Meetup in November 2010 in D.C. titled “Co-Founders Wanted.” This offline event was successful in helping Kaviani find his own cofounder, Culin Tate, and a new venture. Together they envisioned a Match.com type of site for entrepreneurs to find each other and make things happen. Soon after CoFoundersLab was accepted into D.C.’s first accelerator called The Fort and raised VC funding. In November 2011, they launched the CoFoundersLab.com platform. By November 2012, CoFoundersLab Meetups had expanded to 20 cities. They offered both the online and offline events for free.
“There are many parallels between personal romantic relationships but in the business environment,” said Kaviani. “I met my cofounder through the very first cofounding event. I wanted to be objective and find someone who complimented my weaknesses, and focus less on if I liked them. Because I could learn to like them, or maybe you do not even need to like them because it is straight business,” said Kaviani.
The online site looks at personality assessments, compatibility, industry, distance, and roles. It provides tools like the Equity Calculator and curates and vets vendors that service startups. There are assessment tests like the BOSI (Builder, Opportunist, Specialist, Innovator) that can determine strengths and weaknesses. The goal being to find people that compliment your type versus compete with it. Kaviani says of his site, “It’s not just for tech, it is for any industry.”
They took the “Match.com for entrepreneurs” model literally and hired the former CTO of Match.com to create the algorithms to help predict and recommend matches. They teamed up with Dr. Julie Edge, who received a grant from The Kauffman Foundation, to conduct the first study on cofounder relationships. Together they are working on automating the capture and matching process.
“As someone who has had a successful startup, I would not be doing this as a new business if I wanted to make a lot money,” said Kaviani. He has noticed a lot of newcomers setting up shop to be opportunistic to entrepreneurs. “Then there are people like me and Dan (Dato of Cross Campus) who came from it and have a genuine motivation to help. I think that comes through in how we spend our time and in our actions,” said Kaviani.
Kaviani believes Silicon Beach is an important market and a long term place for CoFoundersLab to develop relationships. Meetups are also scheduled in Irvine and in Los Angeles at the government-run Business Technology Center. Kaviani and his team will be in Southern California quarterly to teach at Cross Campus and to hold local CoFoundersLab Meetups. Keep an eye out for upcoming events and sign up online to find your future business partner.