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Ask YC: Finding a Co-Founder
19 points by hooande on Apr 10, 2008 | hide | past | web | favorite | 30 comments
I've seen a lot of people say that they felt they weren't going to get into YC because they didn't have a co-founder. It seems like a shame that good ideas would go to waste because people don't happen to know anyone else who wants to try a startup.

Does anyone in the YC community have any ideas for helping people to meet co-founders? There are some websites for this purpose, but they don't seem to be working. Maybe if we come up with a solution to our problem (meeting other founders interested in ycombinator) we can then apply to it a more general audience.

Here are some existing co-founder websites: http://partnerup.com http://cofoundr.com http://www.founderlink.com




I'm starting a business. (Quit my job in February, in fact.) I don't have a co-founder. Here's my cunning plan.

I build things I find interesting, and search for product ideas that other people are willing to pay for. I talk about what I do. This seems like a good way to meet and talk to the sort of people who are interested in making money by doing the sort of thing I do.

There's been a lot of talk about how not having a CF is a handicap. Let's say it is. You can get started, or not, but not getting started doesn't seem to get you closer to your goal, make you a better CF, or bring you into contact with people who can help you with your business.

It would be nice to have a good CF; a long-time acquaintance with a compatible personality, complementary skill-set, rich parents, entrepreneurial bent, few obligations, etc., but you either know someone like that or you don't. If you don't, it will take years to change that ("long-term") and it seems silly to wait, if you really want to do your own startup.

Sometimes, you have to make do with what you have.


What was it like to quit your job in February? Were you ready before you decided or did you become ready once you decided?

As soon as my apt. lease is up, I'm seriously debating about: leaving my job, traveling to another country to maximize savings and learn Spanish, code, code, code, put it out there..

Even though I have a good job (and with this economy, as my Mom tells me), I have four or five ideas that I want to execute on. I'm starting to delude myself that I'd be happier slaving away in retail or the service industry (the economy) and coding at nights, working on projects that I am interested on. But I know that if I execute right, that finding a job won't be a problem (it will be a choice - job or startup)


"As soon as my apt. lease is up, I'm seriously debating about: leaving my job, traveling to another country to maximize savings and learn Spanish, code, code, code, put it out there.."

I'm just curious...are their any hugely successful tech startups that went the route of "maximizing savings" to the point of moving to a super cheap country very far out of reach of the tech industry?

I can't help but think that being far out of the technology loop and away from peers is good for literature and, maybe, art but incredibly bad for creating an application that people want to use. There's something about Silicon Valley that, despite the extremely high cost of living, leads to more successful tech startups than anywhere else. Readily available funding can't be all of it...can it?


My definition of entrepreneur is someone who takes risks in a managed manner. Going on this trip is more about expanding my comfort zone (unfamiliar language) and adding more life experience to my non-work resume.

I agree that it's harder to start a successful company virtually without face to face networking. Silicon Valley will always be Valhalla. There are a handful of people on News.YC who are already living abroad and managing to code to support themselves.


"What was it like to quit your job in February? Were you ready before you decided or did you become ready once you decided?"

I made my decision back in October, and gave notice then. I was in my cube, an email with a busywork task popped into my inbox, and I knew right then that it was time to go. (I had been preparing for years, however, saving money and keeping expenses low.)

I think your idea of relocating to a lower-cost country is intriguing. Moving can be disruptive, though, so you want to make sure the additional time you get (through a lower cost of living) isn't all eaten up with the distractions of travel.

I've heard Argentina is pretty wired.


"As soon as my apt. lease is up, I'm seriously debating about: leaving my job, traveling to another country to maximize savings and learn Spanish, code, code, code, put it out there.."

Why don't you just code, code, code now? If you work 40 hours per week, that still oughta leave plenty of time to get started on your ideas. Even if you only get 10% done, that's a lot better than 0%.


Outside of work, I code now just to dip my feet in the water. I find coding cuts into my desire to become a better Salsa dancer and networker. Priorities?


I really like this analogy I heard on one of these threads a long time ago here:

"You don't 'find' a cofounder, just like you don't 'find' a wife. It's a relationship with someone else that evolves over time and then someday, someone pops the question."


Carrying the anology a little further and throwing in some metaphors liberally:

1. You could get a potential cofouder pregnant with your idea.

2. The hornier you are with your idea, the sooner you'll find a cofounder.

3. Work hard in the gym of coding so that a hot, I mean, skilled cofounder will find you and want you to screw her brains off until acquisition.


"I've always believed that a relationship isn't something you find, it's something two people build together."


I think there is a common misconception in the startup culture that if you cant convince a friend/buddy etc.. to become a co-founder/partner, your idea is not very good or you are not very good at pitching the idea.

I cant seem to find a co-founder, I am 22. I have many friends who are in tech, many in the bay area. Most of them are just not interested in doing startups right now. Some of them just want a stable job, they are getting paid well. Some of them are just not really into web2.0, someone of them don't have the passion/not driven.

So it is possible that your idea is great and it just so happens that you are unable to find a partner. I am in that boat and I think if there was a tool to find co-founders. There is definitely a good chance of having success in your idea, especially since there are many other people like me with the same dilemma.


I agree 100%. I have had several ideas and some people even like them, but in the end I have not been able to find others who share my passion. I am not a developer, but I have some development background and I am a tech geek so I follow trends and have been able to see things coming, but having the business acumen is not enough. Woz needed Jobs and Jobs needed Woz.


I think it's a catch 22. The type of cofounders they seem to be looking for, and that work out best, are people who have been friends for a while. That means that you can't just go out and find people, unless you're planning for 4-5 years ahead of time when you'll actually have some history together.


Here is my idea: We should make an app to list simple, web based problems to be solved.

Examples: integrating yc into twitter, being alerted about yc post by a certain user, organizing and displaying multiple startup school meetups from different websites

People can sign up to form teams to solve each problem. The idea is that people will be able to work together to do something small before they try to work on something bigger. This way people can get to know each other better through a shared experience.

It doesn't matter what the projects are, though simple ones sound like they'll work better. People who don't code can do research or come up with marketing ideas. The website will just serve as a listing and all the details can be coordinated however the people working on it choose.

I'm willing to code and host it if there is enough interest, unless someone else wants to.


Sounds like a great idea. If you want any help with developing it let me know.

As far as FounderLink itself is concerned my feeling is that it is still very early days and there is a lot more that needs to be done before it is truly useful in finding a partner, I also need to open it up more and make it a lot more accessible(which is coming). Then there is the always large issue of getting users. :)

On a more general note though people just need to get out there and network more with people in different interest groups. It's very easy to pick a group(hackers, business, marketing, sales) and stick to that group of people. If you're a business/sales/marketing person head down to your local ruby user group/beer night and shoot the shit. If your a coder try one of the business conventions/meetups. Just get out there and meet people outside of your norm. Learn a bit about what they do and I see what they do. Make friends and get introductions.


Posts like this remind me of the old line that "the only common factor in all your failed relationships is you".

Yes, it's possible that you'd be a great co-founder, and that you have a great idea -- but if you're looking and can't find anyone willing to sign onto your idea, stop for a moment to ask yourself if it's remotely possible that either (a) you're not very attractive as a co-founder, or (b) your fantastic idea isn't actually quite so fantastic as you thought.

Being enthusiastic is good, but sometimes realism is also good.


Or perhaps all of your friends are married, or liberal arts majors who have absolutely no interest in starting a startup?

Not all of us run in the right circles.


This can be a problem, but there's an excellent solution. You should start attending user groups, be they Python, or Lisp, or whatever. If you can't find a local user group, start one. Give presentations, ask questions, get strangers excited about your idea.


That's true, but why not go and run in those 'right' circles then?


> "the only common factor in all your failed relationships is you"

Yeah but that goes for everyone else too! And when you look at most of the people you have known for any length of time...


I think you should forget about all that stuff and go out and try to meet people who have similar ideas, skills, and backgrounds as you do. There are many meet ups for tech people if you live in a populated area. Either that or get together with people at work/school.

The problem with searching for a co-founder whom you don't know beforehand is that you don't know much about the person and so you don't know what to expect. From experience, you can get yourself into all types of trouble that way. What I'm trying to get at is that it's better to go out and look for friends who could later become partners.


I haven't found anyone who has what I'm really looking for.

But I agree with you.


What are you looking for/working on?


I am working on building an online pencil and paper rpg play system. It would support a character database, dice rollers, major P&P systems, the usual forums, npc character search, all sort's of toy's for players/ST's,GM's,DM's, and a chat system. And eventually support for a subscription service for the books. Much like O'Reilly's Safari.

at least that's my primary idea atm. I have many others.

The problem is that most of the people I know wouldn't want to leave there security blanket of a comfortable job. Aren't technically adept enough, or generally aren't smart enough. I only can think of one person I would really, really consider. But he is part of the first problem, and working on a drinking addiction :(.

The rest of the people who I might consider I wouldn't get along with and don't share their style of visions.


Personally I enjoy not having a co founder. It makes everything a lot easier. I just get done with things. No dicussions or waiting for other people. I Work when I want and have 100% ownership. I quit my job four months ago, and live off some freelance work and subletting some rooms in my apartment. I have a shared office with cool startup people, so I don't get too lonely, but often work from home. The biggest problem I've encountered so far, is that freelancing can take to much time away from your startup project.


I agree that good ideas shouldn't die just because people can't find co-founders.

...But then again, some people don't want or are better off without partners.


Perhaps the best way to find a cofounder is to keep working without one. Build that app, proof of concept, prototype, whatever. Then show it to others. It'll be a lot easier to have a meeting of the minds reviewing your app than talking about your idea.


Thank you for the links. The only reason I didn't apply this round was because I didn't have a co-founder. Basically, all of my friends are married or something similar.


hehe.

I might have been able to find one if I hadn't only had a week to apply.

thanks for the links. The last looks the most promising.


Sounds like a great idea for a Y-combinator start-up, if only you could find a partner to help implement it.




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