Many in the orbit of Y Combinator know a curious fact: Of the top 100 companies that have come out of the renowned startup school and accelerator, only four had solo founders.
It’s a strong case for hitching yourself to a co-founder. Now YC itself is attempting to help you do that, in the most Silicon Valley fashion: with an online tool. It’s archetypal YC, a low-frills affair simply called Co-founder Matching.
Soloists–with or without an actual company idea–can create a free profile on YC’s Startup School portal, and then add preferences about a co-founder, such as location and skills. They’ll be shown potential matches that fit those preferences, and given the ability to connect. YC says it has already made more than 9,000 matches.
“We met the day after we matched, and the day after, and then the day after that,” wrote Vrinda Gupta and Mark Thomas, who are now the CEO and CTO of women’s credit service Sequin Financial, in a testimonial on the promotional page for the matching site.
Oddly, YC’s founder Paul Graham himself has tweeted “cofounder dating is a bad idea,” and said founders should be friends first–perhaps in the model of some of the very first companies to go through the now-famed startup accelerator, such as Reddit and Airbnb. (Graham stepped away from YC in 2014.)
But the director of YC’s Startup School, Kyle Corbitt, says the matching tool is particularly useful in the now-highly virtual, less Silicon Valley-centered startup ecosystem. He told Protocol: “We realized this is a problem a lot of founders face, particularly internationally. I think it’s less of a problem if you’ve gone to Stanford or live in San Francisco, where there’s a stronger established network that makes it easier to find people, but our community is all over the world. We have startup founders in 190 countries.”
For those who find matches, YC even suggests using this template agreement to set expectations and ownership–sort of like a startup pre-nup.
If you’re considering whether a co-founder is a good fit, or whether you want one at all, here are more resources from Inc. that can help:
Dozens of Questions to Ask a Potential Startup Co-Founder
A startup veteran shares the extensive list of questions she used when courting would-be partners.
Will You and Your Co-Founder Work Together?
Can you endure insane hours and incredible stress when you’re in the trenches? Ask these questions to find out.
50 Ways to Find a Co-Founder
It’s sounds like a Paul Simon song, but Inc. columnist Bill Murphy has compiled a long list of logical places to look.