Founder2be joins the dots between visions and visionaries
Like online dating but for meeting like-minded startup enthusiasts, Founder2be doesn’t want ideas to be left on the shelf just for the lack of a partner.
Oliver Bremer had a great idea for a business. All he needed was someone as excited as himself to become his co-founder, so he decided to ask all his friends.
“If I’m honest, I don’t even remember what the idea was,” he tells now, almost 10 years later. “But everyone thought I was nuts and the idea was terrible, or they were in a situation in which they didn’t want to quit the stability of a steady job.”
After Bremer had spoken to everyone he knew, he started to wonder how he could meet people he didn’t know – at least yet. Contemplating how people meet strangers in other situations, he came to think of online dating.
“Online dating is how you meet someone for romantic purposes. What if you create an online dating website, but replace gender with skills, interests and professions?”
Bremer threw the idea at his friends again.
“Most of them thought this was even more stupid than the original idea I had. Except for one guy, who said it was great.”
Putting ideas out there
In a way, Bremer had been in a chicken-and-egg situation: he needed a co-founder for a company that would help others to find co-founders. That’s how he knew how difficult, yet important, it was to find someone with the right kind of mindset, and those people might not hang out in the same circle of friends.
“Everyone has an idea; they’re like grains of sand on the beach,” Bremer describes. “It’s the execution that matters.”
Founder2be was launched in 2012. Bremer and his co-founder – the one friend – didn’t want to create just another job board for advertising, so instead they used online dating as an example. People build profiles, explain their ambitions and tell about their skills, and then they can look for potential co-founders by role, location, keywords and the like.
For premium users, it’s possible to share ideas, too. Initially, Bremer wasn’t sure about the feature, as he thought that many first-time entrepreneurs would be wary of spilling their beans.
“Many think that then someone will steal their idea and get rich immediately, so I wasn’t confident people would actually use it,” he tells. “But it turned out that they weren’t reluctant after all, and now it’s an integral part of the website. I suppose, if your idea is so rock solid that someone else could get rich with it overnight, why don’t you just quit your day job and do it already; and if no one seemingly cares, why do it at all?”
You don’t tend to marry on the first date
Bremer isn’t the only one who has struggled with finding a startup co-founder – and he’s not even the only one who has thought about setting up a site to do just that.
“I’ve received plenty of emails from people who say they’ve had this idea for the longest time. We just took it a step further.”
There have also been those who say no one in their right mind would set up a business with someone they don’t know. Bremer points out that big companies appoint strangers to top positions all the time, and that people don’t (at least usually) marry right after the first date.
“For example, the Dropbox founders didn’t know each other at all before they decided to start Dropbox. They just met for a two-hour coffee and went for it. Now it’s a huge business.”
Founder2be itself isn’t a massive money-making machine: Bremer and his co-founder run it on the side of other jobs and projects. Initially the platform was free of charge, but now there are some features that require a premium account.
“After we introduced PayPal, it didn’t take long for the first user to make a payment. It was encouraging to realise people see so much value in Founder2be that they take out their credit card.”
The founders have heard plenty of good stories from people who’ve found each other through the site. The biggest user bases are in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, and most ideas revolve around high-tech and app-building.
In the future, Bremer would be happy to see Founder2be merge with a bigger player in the startup scene, possibly an accelerator or another networking site.
“If this doesn’t materialise, we’ll just run it the way we always have. And if we hear about a company that’s gone IPO through us, that’d be great news!”