A strong board of advisors can make or break a startup.
FounderDating, an invite-only online network for entrepreneurs, has expanded its service to include advisors. Now members can use the network to connect with experienced entrepreneurs who can help their company grow in an advisory role.
“Finding and connecting with the right advisors can be invaluable for a company at any stage, but the process is arduous and broken,” cofounder and CEO Jessica Alter told VentureBeat. “The advisors on our platform have high intent, have identified what they are good at and interested in and who they’ve advised previously. That just doesn’t exist anywhere else.”
FounderDating is a place where entrepreneurs (and those who aspire to be) can interact with peers, get advice on problems, and find potential cofounders to pursue an idea. Having a great idea or clear vision is only a tiny part of startup success — strong founding team is also critical for execution. An engineer may need someone with business savvy and vice versa.
Advisors also play a role. They offer wisdom and advice, make professional connections, and help guide the company along. Finding advisors has traditionally been an offline process, based heavily on who you know. FounderDating aims to make it easier for aspiring advisors and startups to find each other.
Advisors create profiles with their areas of expertise, markets of interest, and personal background. Startups can search for advisors based on what they are looking for, and connect with those that seem promising. If there is a compelling match, FounderDating has a standard advisor agreement and tools for managing that ongoing relationship.
“Intent is half the battle,” Alter said. “Knowing advisors have opted in and want to help is a key part of connecting and starting a meaningful conversation.”
Advisors participating in the network so far include LivingSocial cofounder and former CTO Aaron Batalion, VP of Products at Method, Josh Handy, and CPO of Kiva Katherine Woo.
FounderDating launched a series of features for hardware entrepreneurs in August 2013 to offer greater support to entrepreneurs, which Alter said were flocking to the site. All members — whether they be engineers, entrepreneurs are advisors — are carefully screened, and FounderDating claims that its community is made up of 50% engineers.
You have to apply for membership, and if accepted it costs $50 a year for the cofounder matching service. The advisor service is free. The network is active across the U.S., as well as in England and Israel.