Somebody needs to create an eHarmony for business partners

Whether you are a first-time entrepreneur, taking your first business class, or reading your sensationalist business book on entrepreneurial success, one of the first things they stress is that you should work with great people, and team chemistry is so important, more important than the business idea itself. I’ve heard over and over that a VC would rather take an A team with a B idea over a B team with an A idea.

It makes perfect sense. The cliche about business partners being a marriage is so true. From my work with many talented people, I realized just how important they are to get something off the ground, and in a global economy, get it off the ground fast. I’ve also heard over and over again, don’t start a business with friends and family. What if they were the best people to begin with? Some mentors have even joked that the goal is to make enough money so you can pay them to be away from the business. But how can you possibly know who’s good for your business, or not good, until you are in the foxhole? One thing that I’ve learned about the startup process, and business in general, for that matter, is that whatever can go wrong will, so be prepare to engage every opportunity, with the downside risk in mind.

You learn a great deal about yourself and your business partners when you deal with the curveballs of business, but you only find out for the first time if you can work together, when things take a turn for the worse. Everything is perfect when things go well, just like when you hear about professional teams who have no controversy when they win every game, but let losing set in, all hell breaks loose.

That’s when I thought that an eHarmony for business partners may be interesting, or maybe it is just a really stupid idea that is gimmicky enough to work. Highly idealistic, but it would be interesting if you could assign an algorithm to business compatibility. I think before eHarmoney, many would have said it was implausible to think that a formula could determine if someone was marriage material for you, but looking at some of the biased stats that eHarmony puts out, maybe there is some truth to it. It would have been highly valuable to me to have potential business partners take a test to see how our business compatibility would score, and who knows, maybe some situations could have been avoided. I’m not saying that I’ve had anything out of the ordinary, but it takes that good team chemistry to take things to the next level.

The one thing to keep in mind is that no partnership is perfect, and will never be. Marriages end, and there is no way we’d know that just because they got married, that it was meant to be or a good situation. But reading about recommendation engines that are out there trying to determine the likelihood that a startup will suceed, I wonder if there was a way to quantify the likelihood that a successful partnership could be attained that would move the needle forward in increasing the chances that the startup would succeed.

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4 responses to “Somebody needs to create an eHarmony for business partners

  1. Matching business partners does seem like more luck than anything most of the time. One way that seems to somewhat work is to try working with potential partners in arms-length situations first – consulting arrangements, trial periods, etc. Then you can at least get a sense for each other when the stakes are lower.

  2. Justin, you’re right. It does seem like more luck or anything. I just wonder if there’s a way to increase the luck. This idea was more of a random thought than anything, but if people can try and convince me that something like YouNoodle can predict startup success, let’s see if it can predict founder compatibility.

  3. It’s been done. It failed (which is not to say that another startup with the same idea wouldn’t succeed — depends on the model of course). I actually used the service about 4 years ago. It was called PartnerUp.com. I found a business partner for a startup I had. It lasted a few months before we parted ways. So it was effective at bringing entrepreneurs together.

  4. Thanks Charlie for stopping by! I thought PartnerUp did an ok job of matching folks up, but to keep the online dating analogy, I felt it was more Match.com rather than EHarmony, where you got a good feel of your compatibility scores for working together.

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