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Show HN: FoundersList – Looking for a cofounder or a new startup to work on? (founderslist.com)
178 points by philipcamilleri 77 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 68 comments



Question for HN: I cannot imagine starting a company with a stranger. There are so many intense moments, points of extreme trust, and ways for things to go wrong, so much passion, and so much blending of self and company, that I wouldn't ever feel comfortable embarking with someone that I didn't know incredibly well as a cofounder.

Are there reasons to believe that starting with a stranger as a cofounder will generally work out well if you can pick the stranger carefully?


Devils advocate, Tinder ends with plenty of long term relationships. Ultimately much of founderdom is a crap shoot because you never know what your partner will turn into three years from now with money on the table. Truly obvious good founders who have lots of experience or proven connections are few and far between such that for the average startup rolling the dice may be just as effective as picking your best friend.


> Tinder ends with plenty of long term relationships

Sure, and some people go there looking for that. Most go there looking for short term enjoyment and possible long term relationships. That doesn't map onto the cofounder search. There is not much value in having the equivalent of "a couple dates" with at potential cofounder. And some people would actually see it as a negative, if they're worried (rightly or wrongfully) about their idea being stolen.


This is more like if you married the first person who agreed to go out with you on tinder.

Which is probably a petty lousy idea.

I don't see how starting a company with a stranger is going to have better results. There will always be exceptions, but it seems like a bad idea.


I don't think the idea is to pick someone at random; it's more like speed dating, where you check for initial chemistry and aligned interests, and then decide if you want to take it further. Maybe you even do some due diligence and check references.

You're perhaps incurring more risk, compared to a friend/colleague you've known for 10 years; but then, there may also be a reward in connecting with a talented mind who you wouldn't've otherwise. (And it's not as though startups with close friends can't also go south in very ugly ways.)


I'm not saying it can't work, or that starting a startup with an old friend can't fail. But I know which one I'd bet on. So do VCs.


But you don't marry the first person you meet on Tinder. You go on dates with the person. I would imagine you can go on "dates" with potential cofounders as well.


Are you going to "date" them for years before launching out on your endeavor?


So you have a dream. You've always had a dream.

You want to start a company, you know what you want to make, to provide.

You've been itching to do this for years.

You think, "I can only do this with someone I know incredibly well, who has the right personality traits and skills".

What are you going to do with your dream if you don't know anyone like that?

Grow old and die waiting?

Those years are passing by, and you still haven't met the right co-founder among your friends...


Go solopreneur? If it was your idea, you will probably have a hard time getting anyone on board with it to the extent you care about it.


In the end everyone ends up striking a balance between how well they know someone and how much they need their skillset. Most people are only going to know a small number of software engineers, for example.

Also in terms of getting to know whether you can work with someone, it's not as hard as say finding a spouse, where you tend to not even know what you want.

I recently met with a guy with a very similar professional background to myself and I could tell immediately we thought the same way. We definitely qualified each other. I'm sure that kind of thing happens to a lot of experienced professionals.


Every friend was once a stranger. Pithy as it sounds, I have found people who make friends almost at first sight. I find it tough to do this, but know many people who would cheerfully call each other (and behave like) friends after a meeting or two.


One should go on many dates before getting married. It's true for Tinder and co-founders. Startup Weekend is/was a great way to execute these dates.


We often ignore that your passion, vision, ideals and intimate dreams can be common (shared) between people, often people have the exact same idea at the same time. Making it much easier to start a company, because values naturally align. You can see this when Google and Apple suddenly collaborate even thou they certainly exist as competitors.


Sample sizes are one of the only ways to intuit baselines for things as complex as this.

The best way to learn from your mistakes is when you're open to making a bunch of them.


This is where organizational structure, clear boundaries of expectations, clear identification of restrictions, and extremely transparent checks and balances are established as a first order of priority. Waiting for a troublesome issue before establishing these guidelines and limitations is waiting for a time bomb of unknown magnitude to explode before doing what should be priority one.


Yeah, I've been burnt more than once because of "bad" co-founders.

And "bad" can have many definitions: they can be great friends but lack the entrepreneurial spirit, you may feel like they do less than you – even though they have just as many shares, or they do something that proves you can't trust them... plus so many other scenarios.

In a perfect world, you would be able to pick and choose from people who are trustworthy, great to hang out with, super skilled and willing to give up a stable job to risk building a startup. But in the real world, most people lack at least a couple of those things and you have to compromise.

I would be super cautious starting a company with a stranger. But... Finding a developer who's a friend willing to work for free (for a promise of future returns, that is) is super hard, and I'm actually talking to a potential co-founder met via FoundersList now.

My first three steps to verify whether building a startup together makes sense would be:

1. Get to know each other, talk a few times, see if you like each other and the vibe is right. Travel together for a few days if you can (which may be tough right now) – that can be a real test of whether you can stand to be with each other and how you react to different situations.

2. Work on something small together. Maybe a pre-MVP version of your app or one feature. No commitment until it's ready.

3. If it turns out you worked together well and delivered something good without jumping at each other's throats and you feel good about it, then go ahead and build that big thing as co-founders.

Just make sure to have a written agreement that determines what happens if one of the founders decides to leave, how decisions are made, etc. – it may seem like too much in the beginning but it will save you a lot of stress and fighting over "silly" stuff later on.

---

"Choosing the wrong co-founders" is actually one of the top startup mistakes for me.

If you would like to read about more, here's an article I wrote some time ago about the top 11 startup mistakes I wish I don't ever make again: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/you-fail-can-less-making-othe....


I've started with a non-stranger. Someone I would even at one point called a friend.

It didn't end well.

There are no guarantees. Other than not starting won't end in failure. It just won't start.


People marry someone they met at a bar everyday, how is this any different?


not starting at all?


Interesting idea with likely unwanted consequences. Browsed it for 10 minutes and it seems the vast majority of posts are "looking for technical co-founder to program my idea."


My advice to people looking for a "technical cofounder" is always to learn to code—and not in a snarky, "learn to build it yourself" way. Having even a cursory ability to code and a CS50 level understanding of computers will give you enough context to vet the plausibility of ideas, and give you the ability to articulate them in terms that might interest an engineer, as opposed to just saying "An app for investing in real estate."


I spent years doing this, but I would still need / want a technical co-founder for my ideas.

Now I'm a technical manager who can code pretty well, but that's not really all that helpful to launch something legit and complex.


>> My advice to people looking for a "technical cofounder" is always to learn to code—and not in a snarky, "learn to build it yourself" way.

> I spent years doing this, but I would still need / want a technical co-founder for my ideas

There's two reasons why a non-technical founder should learn to code:

1: To get past the "computers can read minds" trap, and to have a high level understanding of what's going on under the hood. (Elon Musk knows an awful lot about how his cars work.)

2: For the same reason CTOs need to understand topics like product-market fit.


Yep - those who can build this stuff don't devalue yourself even in these weird times... Truth is you're going to make WAY more money in the long run by consulting your services out building these platforms vs. taking ownership in a company that may never make it. Payment up-front vs. percentage ownership in an entity that doesn't yet exist is almost always the better option.

Why? Here's the hard truth - 90% of these won't EVER see profit, and you'll likely sink a TON of time (and potentially money) into something that doesn't necessarily ever pay out vs. scratching the "I'm an entrepreneur!" itch.

Doesn't stop fools like myself from circling back to the startup arena though ever few years after refilling the coffers, but it's only healthy to look at this stuff as "gambling" or "fishing" vs. having any real expectations for success.

That all being said - risk is the only way we grow!


Similarly:

Cofounders looking for salesperson to work for commission only.


I think this idea actually has a better chance of working, for a couple reasons:

• There is less risk in starting the relationship. You're not divvying up shares in a company or even paying a fixed salary. The only thing you stand to lose is the time spent figuring out the comp structure

• Founders don't have to open up quite as much about the business, and worry that their idea will be stolen/copied. This is partly because founders seeking salespeople will be further along (alpha version or later), and partly because there's less of a fear that a salesperson will start a copycat company than an engineer (because of skills, not intrinsic honesty).


Salesperson for commission is fine. They either work really hard for the LinkedIn credit and don't sell anything or they crush and sell and make money for you and them. I sold a $10,000 deal for a certain comedy adjacent startup because he said a certain vendor could not be closed. When the founder asked me what a fair commission would be I said mail me a t-shirt, sometimes it's just for fun.

edit: prospect, not vendor


> I think this idea actually has a better chance of working, for a couple reasons:

> • There is less risk in starting the relationship. You're not divvying up shares in a company or even paying a fixed salary. The only thing you stand to lose is the time spent figuring out the comp structure

> • Founders don't have to open up quite as much about the business, and worry that their idea will be stolen/copied. This is partly because founders seeking salespeople will be further along (alpha version or later), and partly because there's less of a fear that a salesperson will start a copycat company than an engineer (because of skills, not intrinsic honesty).

For a salesperson you want to work with, they are making minimum $15k per month. Why are they even going to talk to you when you aren't offering equity or money? Do you think that cold-calling is fun-time?


It's not about cold-calling, it's about monetizing your network. If you have experience and contacts in an industry, and a startup offers you 30% commission on the revenue you bring in, it could be worth the time to see if you can make valuable connections for them. This is especially true if you're not tied to a full-time schedule with them — you could literally do this while still working another job.


> It's not about cold-calling, it's about monetizing your network. If you have experience and contacts in an industry, and a startup offers you 30% commission on the revenue you bring in, it could be worth the time to see if you can make valuable connections for them. This is especially true if you're not tied to a full-time schedule with them — you could literally do this while still working another job.

So, the salesperson should risk losing a contact (and an account) for... nothing?


How do you lose a contact by seeing if they’re interested in a new product/service?


> How do you lose a contact by seeing if they’re interested in a new product/service?

From the perspective of the prospect, the salesperson is making a recommendation. If the startup fails to deliver, then it can cause a lot of problems in the relationship.


Sure, you'd want to make sure you don't over-promise, and of course the buyer would realize they're buying from a startup (and presumably getting a discount as an early adopter). Anyway, my point is just that this sort of matching service could work out in some circumstances, and it is in some ways easier than trying to match founders who are sharing equity.


> Sure, you'd want to make sure you don't over-promise, and of course the buyer would realize they're buying from a startup (and presumably getting a discount as an early adopter). Anyway, my point is just that this sort of matching service could work out in some circumstances, and it is in some ways easier than trying to match founders who are sharing equity.

The point of parent of this thread is that developers tend to receive very unreasonable requests from people wanting to start companies and are not developers, and I am demonstrating that there are other professions that receive the same treatment from the developers.


There is way more risk from the salesperson's side, especially if you're not divvying up shares.

If you're a salesperson looking at either taking a job at an established company with a proven product and a pipeline of leads, or a startup with no traction and no proven product, the only thing that could possibly incentivize you towards the startup would be equity and (potentially) an insane commission rate. With no equity, you're doing a much harder job with less upside and significantly more downside.


Someone who is looking for job flexibility would prefer the startup setup, where you can test the waters and see how it goes. As for the commission rate, I think most early startups would be willing to give a very high rate, especially to a salesperson who can operate independently and who has industry contacts. They wouldn't really care if that person worked full-time or not, so long as they could bring in leads and help close sales. In software, the margins are so high that you could give a very high commission on all of your early sales, knowing that your later/larger sales wouldn't be affected.


nice idea it sounds similar to affiliate marketing things like clickbank


plenty of affiliate marketers that would take it up


Affiliate marketing is a type of promotion, which is entirely different than person-to-person sales.


Look at no-code platforms if you must, but probably you can launch your business with just a website (not app) and an email address.


Yep, its hard to find technical folks who can build things, especially someone else's ideas.


Does anyone know of something similar for matching technical people with non profits? I’m suddenly filled with free time and want to find a non profit with short term technical needs. Ideally looking to help lgbtq organizations if that helps


Your best bet is to draw up a list of 30 (at least) organisations that you are willing to help. Draw up a list of at least 10 "specific" examples of ways you can help.

Email those organisations with a brief introduction explaining who you are, that you have found yourself available, you specifically want to help organisations like theirs [because X], and that you are willing to help in the following ways [...].

You'll get one or two back in the timeframe you are available for that have actually had your message read by someone both senior and knowledgable enough to work out how they can make use of you.


At least before its acquisition, grindr had its hand in a bunch of non-profit tech stuff.

I don't know if they consolidated it to a specific website. The times I ran into them, they were focused on homeless lgbt (they thought some app would help) and other kinds of public health initiatives involving racism, transphobia, safe spaces, all that ... don't assume the attitude of the users on the platform reflect that of the company, they seemed to be pretty upstanding. [1]

It looked like they had an extensive network. You could probably reach out to them over a general email address ...

---

[1] this isn't uncommon. LA Weekly and Village Voice used to do good, well financed local journalism but most of the funding came from backpage, a site where sex workers advertised. Browsing for a night a thrills financed reporters covering city council meetings, really.


I never knew grindr did that, that's awesome.


Checkout https://Catchafire.org it has an extensive directory of NGOs that which you filter by various criteria.

I had the privilege to lead all product UX and UI on this new version. happy to do the same again for the right startup. just DM me.


Getting Https error on the site.



Hi, not LBQT strictly even though there's an ideological underpinning in the project that aims to help those.

What I'm doing short term is to try to enable people with disabilities to write on computers.

I noticed that this might fill a gap in VR usage for productive purposes.

At heart I want to be openminded and work honestly against the truth so I'd like to set up a non profit to further this research.

Have a lot of cool ideas. Can't do very much atm as I ran out of funds was forced to apply for a job. Now my hands are a bit tied by the IP clause in my contract.

http://tbf-rnd.life

trbefrrnd at gmail.com


Check out https://ovio.org/ -- they target matching developers with Open Source projects, and many of them are for non-profit causes (several COVID-19 related projects right now: https://explore.ovio.org/covid-19)


I couldn't easily determine, but they seem a for-profit company. Do you know what their business model is?


Don’t know if you’re looking for paid work or not, but https://explore.ovio.org/projects could be a helpful place to browse.


hey Werber -- have you checked outintech and startout.org? (Also, for covid-related projects, helpwithcovid.com seems to be doing a great job). HTH.


Never heard of either, thanks so much


TWIF (The World Is Fun): https://www.theworldisfun.org


Well I think this is great, and some of the posts are from startups that actually have a MVP already built, with founders who have decent credentials. There's also some fun moonshots in there like this one: https://founderslist.com/cofounders/view/80

If you're in SF or already part of the startup/VC community this website probably isn't for you. But for thousands of entrepreneurial minded, experienced people who just need a partner, this is a great resource. (Of course caveats apply! But don't they always? If you're joining/founding a startup nobody will do your due diligence but you!)

Thanks for posting, and I will be going through some of the posts with great interest.


If you are fortunate enough to have some capital in this crisis, what better opportunity will you have in your life to start a company? A significant amount of incumbents (a.k.a. your competition) will be wiped out or have reduced market share when the economy starts back up, and there will be unique challenges and opportunities in the post-covid world.


This feels more PlentyofFish rather than Tinder.

Is there more of a tinder version? Just dump two people into a shared video chat and pair programming session to just start building something with someone?

Not code-roulette, but paired like founders list here. Just less reading and more connecting.

Or a shared repl, Jupyter notebook, or Google doc/sheet/slides for collab.

Anything closer to something like that exist?


theres shapr https://shapr.co/ which is sort of similar to what your describing (the tinder part not the code notebooks)


Something similar [1] (but rather for side projects) was posted here on HN a few days ago.

[1] https://redsand.io/


Founder seeking co-founder to found founding funding finder for other Founders. Have found several other promising Founders but still have not found what I'm trying to find.



Buffalo buffalo buffalo.


Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Bisons hailng from Buffalo, N.Y. confuse confound and befuddle more of their own kind.


Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.

Those bullied N.Y. buffalo take their rage out on the general buffalo population.

Did you set me up for that? :-)


Not parsing it quickthrower2. I get two possible parses:

Bisons (Buffalo) bewilder (buffalo) Buffalo bisons (Buffalo bisons) confuse (buffalo) annoy (buffalo) and vexate (buffalo) other bisons (buffalo).

But that is not grammatical.

Neither is my second parse:

Bisons from Buffalo (Buffalo buffalo) Bisons from Buffalo (Buffalo buffalo) confuse (buffalo) and vexate (buffalo) other bisons (buffalo).

Am I missing it?

You can do this: Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Which is like my first post except each alternative definition of buffalo (confuse, annoy, vexate) is included using the word buffalo in its stead.

But that's just gratuitous.


thats pretty clever :)




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