The Best Places to Meet Your Future Cofounder, IRL


You never know who you might come across.

Stocksy_txp53f39061YPL100_Small_771963Looking for a business partner? Look no further.

Educational institutions
University and high school (hell, the founders of DNA 11 met on the kindergarten playground) are where you’re most likely to meet your co-founder. Almost half the teams at top accelerators Y Combinator and Techstars got together in the classroom, Google’s Larry and Sergey buddied up at Stanford and Mark and his Facebook founders were fellow Harvard goers. So, if you’re lucky enough to currently be on a campus, look to your circle of friends to see if any sparks fly and get yourself signed up to student groups in areas you’re keen on.

‘Founder dating’ is all the rage online by way of sites like CoFoundersLab and Founder2Be – but as any Tinder familiar will tell you, meeting face-to-face is the only way to really gauge your compatibility (or screaming lack thereof) with a potential partner, business or otherwise. But don’t write off these digital meat markets. Many of them hold cofounder speed-dating events, as do some start-up incubators and accelerators. Techcode holds a ‘monthly mixer’ to get entrepreneurs coupling up in the US, and Aussie upstarts can be speedily matched at Ribit outings across the country.

In 2007, a guy named Jo sent an email to his housemate, Brian. The pair were struggling to pay the rent, and knowing that a big design conference was coming through their city, this is what Jo wrote: “I thought of a way to make a few bucks – turning our place into a “designer bed and breakfast” – offering young designers who come into town a place to crash during the four-day event, complete with wireless internet, a small desk space, sleeping mat, and breakfast each morning. Ha!” So began Airbnb, a company now worth US$30 million. Could your future cofounder be sleeping under your very own roof?

Weekend hackathons
Screw small talk. Why not get straight to down to business and build a product or company with total strangers in a matter of mere days? Startup Weekend holds events in more countries than you can buy a Starbucks in (150, to be precise) and has brought together more than 23,000 teams to date. There’s nothing like working with someone on a super-tight deadline (usually 54 hours) to test the water with a potential cofounder. And if it doesn’t work out at least you fail fast, with no strings. Next!

Meetups and workshops
With almost 30 million users across the globe, you can’t swing a cat at a Meetup get-together without knocking over half a dozen likeminded folk (but this mightn’t necessarily be the best way to broach your business idea). Depending on where you are in the world, there’ll be at least a few start-up related Meetups held each month, and workshops tailored to your niche are another promising place to catch a keeper (start-up accelerator Blue Chilli holds a bunch across Australia). Also, keep your eye on tradeshows that might tickle your, and your future cofounder’s, fancy.

Co-working spaces
By their very design, shared working spaces are practically begging for collaboration – and have been the backdrop for many a start-up success story (Instagram, Uber and Indiegogo all began in co-working spots). You’ll just need to be proactive in getting yourself known and snooping out what everyone else is working on. The kitchen and open communal areas (not forgetting nearby coffee haunts) are prime positions to casually strike up conversation with your ‘co-workers’. Even if they’re not the Ben to your Jerry, chances are they’ll know someone who could be.


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