Founder2be, the Helsinki-based co-founder finding network, is now operating in more than 100 countries, having expanded to accept would-be co-founders living in Africa and Australia. The network was already accepting applications from Europe, the U.S. and Asia — and says it’s the first co-founder finding network operating across all five continents (Antarctica not being a hotbet of startup activity).
Founder2be, which launched its skill-matching network for co-founders back in 2011, is now apparently the biggest such dedicated network. Its own co-founder, Oliver Bremer, tells TechCrunch it now has more than 15,000 registered users all hoping to meet their startup Mr/Ms Right — although he notes it is of course about “quality as much as quantity” when choosing a co-founder.
Still, having a large enough pool to choose from in the first place isn’t a bad thing, provided you don’t mind doing a little more sifting to find your ideal business partner. Rival co-founder finding networks include U.S.-based CoFoundersLab and FounderDating — the latter taking a different approach by being invite-only.
Bremer describes the invite approach as “interesting” but says he’s ultimately skeptical about it. “Personally, I find it interesting to see what will happen, but I disagree with it. To me this is as if LinkedIn would review your CV first before they let you upload it. Or match.com saying ‘you’re not good enough’. Who are we to say that? People need to decide for themselves who they want to work with,” he says. “We provide the online dating platform together with a StartupWeekend like, community driven event series for people to match and meet and make their own decisions.”
Founder2be’s first networking event in Africa will take place in Lagos in Nigeria, while in Australia it will be holding its debut event in Perth. “More elsewhere are coming all the time (Mexico, Bulgaria, etc.) as applications by people wanting to host events are pouring in,” adds Bremer. As well as accepting potential co-founders in two new continents, Founder2be is also accepting applications for “ambassadors” — aka event hosts for its local networking events.
According to Bremer, Founder2be is powering “a few thousand” introductions per month. Beyond that, it’s of course hard to measure the impact/success rate of a networking service — especially as he notes it makes a point of “not snooping” on members so has to wait to hear when co-founders meeting through its network have clicked. But he cites Cureeo is one example of a Founder2be success story that has been made public. “Maida met her co-founder Abid on Founder2be and together they got into TechStars.”
Founder2be is also a startup itself, of course, and is bootstrapping the service. It’s taking revenue from premium subscriptions — although it does offer a free service option too. The premium subscription helps people find a potential match faster, says Bremer. “It gives better search, features your project or startup idea more prominently, and generally makes life easier.”
Despite not being in a “fund raising mode” Founder2be is being approached by investors. If it does end up taking an offer — and that’s not a priority right now, according to Bremer — he says it’ll likely be a $300,000 seed round. “I think the more interesting figure is the $60M+ our members are looking to invest in startups,” he adds.