Y Combinator has announced the launch of a matching platform where founders looking for co-founders can be matched.
The startup school said the platform is designed to ease the challenge founders encounter while looking for cofounders, and they have already made up to 9,000 matches.
“We’re excited to announce Y Combinator’s co-founder matching platform is now available for everyone through Startup School, our free online program and community for founders. Anyone actively looking for a co-founder can sign up at startupschool.org/cofounder-matching. The platform has been in beta for the past few months, as we’ve experimented with the process within the Startup School community. To date, we’ve made 9,000 matches across 4,500 founders,” It said in a statement.
Using dating sites templates, the platform invites entrepreneurs to create profiles, which include information about themselves and preferences for a co-founder, such as location and skill sets. It digests that information and offers a number of potential candidates that fit those needs.
“Finding the right co-founder is an incredibly important step in the startup journey. At YC, we have endless anecdotes that show building a company with a co-founder greatly helps with productivity and morale. This is supported by our data: while we do fund solo founders, only four of the top 100 YC companies came to YC without a co-founder,” YC explained.
The accelerator offers the popular Startup School, a free online program with resources and lectures surrounding how to start a company, to anyone who wants to start a company. The school has cultivated a community of 230,000 founders in 190 countries. A matching tool is thus an easy jump to make, one that could help the partners there move even earlier in aggregating and eavesdropping on nascent talent.
The company said the decision to launch the platform was spurred by the growing need to find a compatible co-founder.
“Within the Startup School community, 20% of active founders report that they’re seeking a co-founder, and 25% of aspiring founders cite not having a co-founder as a blocker to starting their company full-time. Many of our users have tried many avenues for a long time, with little success,” it said.
Y Combinator said the co-founder matching platform was built to tackle the above problem. It starts with getting vital information when people sign up. “You tell us a number of things about yourself and your preferences for a co-founder (e.g. interests, location, skills). We then show you profiles of candidates that most closely match your ideal co-founder. When you find a candidate that piques your interest, you can send them a message, and if they accept, we match the two of you,” It said.
The platform is optimized for rapid review to maximize the chances you find the right fit.
But there are concerns. TechCrunch’s Natasha Mascarenhas noted that even though the tool may appear as a neat, in-demand and simplistic tool that connects people to each other, it is far harder to execute in a meaningful way than one may think — even if you’re an accelerator as famed and well known as YC.
One of the reasons is diversity and differences that cannot be discovered by merely chatting someone up online.
“Co-founder matching tools are best for founders who don’t have built-in networks and need ways to find collaborators in their earliest days. Startup School is indeed a wide net, but because Y Combinator struggles with diversity and representation of minorities in its batches, it will need to find ways to make sure that doesn’t get compounded when matching founders with each other. Can there be a filter for gender or ethnic background? Should there be? It’s a slippery slope,” she said.
To tackle some of the challenges, Natasha said YC told her that “we don’t ask for demographic information from Startup School participants with the exception of a recent open text box for gender; and a large percentage have yet to fill this out. Right now, we’re using this info within co-founder matching — if you’re a woman, we let you mark that you’re seeking a woman co-founder and we increase the chances the co-founder candidates you see are women.”
Figuring out a way to help co-founders within the matching service learn easy ways to vet compatibility is yet a serious concern. But YC likened it to a romantic relationship.
“Like a romantic partner, a co-founder is someone you’ll depend on and spend a great deal of time with, hopefully for many years. You probably shouldn’t marry someone after just one date, and similarly, it’ll take more than one video call to decide whether to co-found a company with someone. We encourage matched co-founders to meet and, when appropriate, work together on a time-boxed trial project with clear expectations and goals in order to vet co-founder compatibility,” it said.
YC said two companies who met through the platform earlier this year were accepted into the YC Summer 2021 batch, indicating early signs of success.