I had three days to find a cofounder. This is what I did.

The Story

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the last week, it’s two things.

  1. Ask questions.
  2. This startup thing is hard.

This is why:

It’s Wednesday afternoon of last week in Melbourne-town. I had just found out that I didn’t get an interview for AngelCube. Suffice to say – I really wanted an interview. So, I figured, “Why not, I’ll ask Adrian what’s up”.

He replied with a short answer: “You don’t have a co-founder. If you find one by Saturday, let me know.”

“Fair enough”, I said.

I gave Matt a call. “Hey, I need a co-founder, I think I should build a microsite, what should I call it? Ineeda.co/founder or something?”. “Nah”. “cofounderinternetdating.com?” “Too long”.

“Wait, this kind of sounds like a dating website, Anthony…” Matt Joked. “But I just had four girls in a row stand me up on me on OKCupid…” (this bit of information, unfortunately, wasn’t a joke)

“Wait, since this is a joke, what about OKCofounder.com?”. “I LOVE IT!!!111!!”

Great artists don’t copy…

And I begun the next phase of my experiment: building OKCofounder. This train of thought bounced through my head:

“Wait, I should answer some funny questions and maybe even rip off the OKCupid branding. This is turning into a funny joke.”

“Let’s submit it to Silicon Beach. Oh, why not, Hacker News as well”. A few minutes later, I started spamming a few friends on Facebook.

“Upvote plz”. “Dude, it’s on the front page.” “Oh, shit.”

And then it started. I had a barrage of responses – some from people who didn’t even read the site and pitched me their idea, some from a fellow solo founder to just say thanks. Some that I still need to reply to. A few people even came to the AngelCube speed dating night on the Thursday because of seeing the site. I had coffee with a few others. It was a kind of insane period. Some of my friends thought I had dropped off the face of the earth.

Data is sexy

A few people had emailed/tweeted me and asked me to quantify some of the data that I had from the microsite. So, here we go:

  • 8,840 visits from the 17th of April to tonight. Of those, 770 or 8.7% were from Australia, which was my target demographic.
  • 1,083 of those were from Twitter – the rest being from Hacker News or Facebook.
  • 27 “Interactions” on Facebook.
  • 39 direct links from Twitter.
  • From that spike of traffic, A total of 33 entries into my contact form. Some of the entries were hilarious and obviously didn’t pay attention to what I wanted.
  • Out of those, about 4-5 were actually quality responses.
  • A bump in my contact form conversion rate from 2.96% to 3.2%, which my understanding is going from a bit below average to average.
  • 295 views of my LinkedIn Profile.
  • An average CPC of $2.56 on an AdWords Campaign targeting “australian incubator, “adrian stone”, “angelcube”, and “startups melbourne”. There were 18 views in total.
  • 1 co-founder to pitch with.

The Vegas Wedding

From http://www.bigfoto.com/america/las-vegas/lv13_wedding_chapel.jpg

As far as finding a co-founder goes – I’m leaving his name out because I haven’t expressly asked for his permission yet, but it was a match. He’s working on something similar, lives in Melbourne, and we both have similar beliefs, a similar vision and a complimentary technical skillset. The ultimate test was assembling the IKEA table I had just bought for my apartment together. That was shit-hot.

Effectively, this match was pure luck.

But I had done what I thought was impossible – I had found a co-founder in three days.

Much like Gary Gaines in Friday Night Lights, we could get so far, but we didn’t get into the program. There’s a few things that we both thought could have done better, including working a bit more on our pitch to be able to explain what mattered.

The end game

Does the data I have, as suggested by a few of those in Hacker News, quantify the idea of building a co-founder dating website? I’m taking a few days to think about it and what I’m going to do next – whether to keep working on residen.se, work on this, work on something new, or perhaps dip back into agencyland for a little bit.

Maybe I should do something with the factory. Could a way to connect people who want to start businesses be it?

OKCofounder

As some of you know, I’ve been working on residen.se for the last couple of months. I’ve also realised that I don’t have a co-founder.

I’ve gone and done a few events in the past, but it just… didn’t do it for me. I needed something more. I needed to set up a dynamic where I could meet someone in a different context – almost like a dating website for co-founders.

And then it clicked: Build http://okcofounder.com/

 

A Startup Is Born

Ed: This is the preamble to why I started residen.se

“Shit”.

I jammed the the key into the door of the “sharehouse from hell”. It had been broken since we moved in.

“What’s wrong?”, Matt asked.

“No one should ever have to go through what we just did, Someone needs to change this”.

“So why don’t you?”

“I don’t have the time or motivation, maybe somebody else will.”

I closed the door on what was a nightmare of a sharehosue we’d lived in for just about four months and into a very understanding friend’s car. We left, and I thought it was the end, but it was only the beginning.

We ended up being sued for an exorbitant sum of money for all of the problems that had been unleashed on the sharehouse over seven years without an repairs. People moving in and out, people coming and going without any obligation to maintain the property. We’d lived there for four months and gotten kicked out by the agent. I was exhausted and frustrated, but I kept going. I went to an extreme and even wore a tie to court to give a good impression – which being a child of Silicon Valley, is something that I secretly loathe.

A few weeks later, we were at the the tenancy tribunal after having our first court appearance.

“So, what do we do?”

“What most people normally do is just settle. But I think you guys might have a chance. Fight it.”

And I kept fighting – for several weeks. I got the case thrown out of court because they didn’t file the right paperwork. They filed a dodgy appeal, which I had to re-appeal. I would have to miss work to go fight. My personal life was in shambles. But I never let go. And I ended up winning every cent of our bond back. I had this idea to build an application that let people communicate with thier real estate agent better. I decided that if one more thing happened, I’d do it and never give up. I cared nothing about the several hundred dollars that I now had in my bank account anymore, it had become something personal.

Around this time I was also reading The Philosophy of Andy Warhol. One of my favorite quotes from that book was:

“They say sometimes time changes things, but sometimes you have to change them yourself”.

A few weeks after everything had settled, and three months after we’d moved out, I received a phone call from a blocked number.

“Hello, did you need any help fixing your front door?”

The Little things

One of my favourite songs of all times is by a band called Trinity Roots, called “The Little Things”. And the more I walk on this journey that we call life, the more I realise that, as the tagline of the song goes, it really is “the little things that really matter”.

There’s so much beauty in what we don’t see – and those small little bits of attention to detail are what make me love something – it’s not just a brand, it’s what people notice. And that’s why life is so beautiful.

Just food for thought.

WordCamp Sydney – What Multisite Can Do For You

I’m giving a presentation on what WordPress Multisite can do for you at WordCamp Sydney next week, which I’m really looking forward to :)

I’ll post a transcript of my talk, my slides, and some useful information after the presentation, and if anyone has any questions you can contact me :)

Update: My slides are now available on Speaker Deck. More information here soon.

And We’re Live

So I’ve decided to redesign my blog, finally. I thought I’d start off with something fairly basic and straightforward so that I can focus more on content and stuff that matters. I’ve used Intuit as a base CSS framework. The font you see is one of my favourites, Otari Bold Limited

This weekend I plan on re-implementing comments, because that’s kind of… well, important.  There’s a few styling tweaks that need to be done as well, but enjoy this for the time being.

 

My WordPress Instagram Plugin

The other day I was thinking about how cool it would be to share more instagram photos through my WordPress blog. I occasionally enjoy posting photos to Instagram, but I feel severely limited to just being able to post photos there and not share them with a greater audience.

Enter the Instagram real time API. I took one look and knew that I really wanted to build something to take advantage of that and WordPress.

I’ve started building WP Instagram Post and have a working example of it. Once I get it stable, I’m going to shift it to WordPress.org and “release” it into the wild. We’ll call this an Alpha release.

As a greater vision, I think I’m going to make this into “The” WordPress plugin to use with Instagram. I’m not sure about the name of the plugin, but I that can come with time :)

If anyone is interested in helping out, please drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you. I don’t really think that this should be used in production (as it lacks an immense amount of security), but I’d love some feedback from anyone who want

Props to Matt Mullenweg, who inspired me to build this with his photo blog.