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How I Found a Co-Founder, Built a Prototype, and Raised $5M in Less Than 4 Weeks (brianbalfour.com)
101 points by mpc on Jan 18, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments

This is an outstanding article. The idea of a core group containing people genuinely interested in all members' success is absolutely compulsory to launch a great product. The whole thing is true honesty and openness; you have to be able to completely trust, on many levels, the people in your group.

My group contains friends I've known since college, from a variety of unrelated majors. We all work on different projects, but we keep in constant contact and offer to each other the brutal honesty that members of our respective teams could not otherwise offer. Additionally, we use each of our unique experiences to identify new problems, and new areas that might be worth pursuing. It's an incredible feeling.

Actually, for a long time, I've been thinking about creating a site that facilitates pairing people together for this purpose. I've been throwing around a few ideas for it, and have a pretty decent idea churning in the back of my mind. How interested would you guys be in a site like okcupid for entrepreneurs?

I'm working on a site that is, in part, attempting to help match entrepreneurs with one another based on mutually beneficial skills. We're still in alpha, so there is a long way to go yet. I think not having a real life connection makes these relationships take longer to cultivate online, if it is even possible at all. I'm hoping that having a material goal, a startup idea in our case, will energize people to start the bonding process though.

Perhaps the hardest problem is addressing the issue of trust. As a culture, we're inherently wary of people we "meet" online. While the problem is indeed technologically feasible, it's overcoming the cultural differences that would make or break any solution.

Moreover, the idea of "start-up" itself is too abstract -- would you focus on tech start-ups mostly? How would your site handle funding? What about scammers? It's an idea I'll probably think about for a couple months, and hopefully write some more about soon.

The working together part comes first, then the connecting. Purely doing matchmaking is too hard and inaccurate imo, it is easier to find things that people find mutually interesting and get them engaged together through it.

My site is largely unconcerned with funding right now, there are already excellent resources to get it. And scammers would be wasting their time: much like most startups, lots of people try really hard and get nothing out of it. Why scam the guy you will have to work hard to help and will probably get nothing?


The server is down so I couldn't review the article but I am very interested in your idea, I have been thinking about something similar for sometime as well but on a local level which should be easy in SF. I'd like to discuss this further with you.

Thanks for the response. I'm actually looking to move to Palo Alto for the summer to attempt to get a few of my ideas off the ground a little faster. I'd love to use the bay area as a test bed for this type of concept, so feel free to get in touch with me at sntsrv@gmail.com.

I thought for sure this was a joke headline from DanielBMarkham's linkbait generator: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2112277

Sure, but it's a great and insightful article...probably one of the best I've read on HN in a while

Thanks for the compliment. Really appreciate it.

The title tells you what the author was able to accomplish through a particular phenomenon. That's hardly anything like "14 Ways to Get On The Front Page Of Digg." So, I'm surprised you have that reaction. I didn't.

Well, it matches pretty closely with some of the other patterns it spits out:

"How I Closed My First Round of Financing In Less than a Week Using Only Ten Lines of Code"

I find having core peer groups (I like to call them "cronies" just for kicks) to be invaluable. We share with each other information about our businesses and challenges we face that we wouldn't share with others. We check in with one another and hold each other accountable.

I like to think of it as like being investors in each other's companies, but with no money exchanging hands, and no complicated term sheets. Each success for one of us results in more success for all of us.

So if you add in the time it took to find your Core Peer Group who could make all that happen in four weeks, how long did it really take you?

I knew the Betahouse crew for about 3 - 4 months prior. But from conception of the idea for Viximo to completion of the three items in the title, it was actually less than 4 weeks.

I view the core group as a long term investment for whatever you are working on. I didn't build the core group just to execute the particular idea for Viximo. In fact, if I think you go into it with that mentality, you are setting yourself up for failure at the beginning.

I have found this exact thing to be true. I launched my first (fulltime) startup this past summer, and the insight of my "core group" was simply brilliant. I ended up asking 3 of them to join my board, and they have not only helped me avoid mistakes, but steered me into a profitable direction as well.

Great article Brian, the breadth of this article is fantastic.

What the author didn't dig into was the selection of core groups, and how we choose a group that best serves us as individuals and that we can best contribute to.

How does one move between core groups, how many can you be an active member of at once?

I actually have a follow up post exploring that. I felt like having them combined was waayyyy too long.

Key sentence FTA: I had previously started a few companies with angel funding and a couple small exits, but certainly nothing of scale.

He didn't raise $5M in 4 weeks, it took years of laying the groundwork.


If you asked my investors about my history prior to Viximo, they wouldn't have a clue what I had done. It didn't matter. In any case, the point of the article isn't the exact timing of these things, it was a demonstration of what core groups can do. I spent a lot of time evaluating how/why what happened, happened (including my personal history). And I can honestly say, this was the one thing that was 90% of the cause.

With all due respect, you don't just waltz into someone's office with an idea, no matter how good it is, and get $5M. You absolutely have to have connections to even get the meeting. Whether the connections were yours from your past history or one of your partners, the point is that it was not the instant success the headline makes it out to be.

Great article on things you would/should generally do as an entrepreneur, but Id have actually seen bit more of a break down (daily perhaps) on actually work done towards the particular app/product.

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