A few weeks back, I wrote about creating an online resource (in a comment below) to connect startups to founders in the MENA region. The idea is to create an online resource. The feedback was mixed- some of you wanted an online resource like this. Others did not.
The problem with putting something out there is that you must respond when people give you feedback. That’s the power of building in the open. You end up making a public commitment. So, I have been “forced” to work on weekends on this project. And here I am writing about the journey so that I continue to engage my audience. Another reason “building in public” is good is that it is a great way to drive distribution for founders, especially if they want to get an early bunch of supporters.
So, I have been researching how to make a no-code version of this online resource to work. For others to build an MVP, it is worth briefly walking through the process. I needed a form builder to collect data on two critical users of this system.
1) Startup founders and 2) Co-founder Candidates. And we need to match the right ones to each other. Let’s call it a “matcher” application for now.
The application will be simple:
· Create a database of founders and potential co-founders.
· Allow for matching of requirements (manual/ automated).
· Send details with consent to folks who want to connect and take the discussion offline.
· Nothing fancy, but it is a marketplace, and we will have to generate the supply side before matching the demand. The supply side, in this case, is the list of people willing to be co-founders.
· If there is enough talent on one side, then startups will register on the site (assumption).
I started experimenting with Airtable and Zapier first. The issue is that I needed to pay for subscriptions to impose a level of privacy. So, I had to use Google Sheets to create a database and then create a view from Airtable. It complicated stuff, and I wasted time on that and later nixed it.
In proper lean startup mode, I decided to wait to spend any money until I gauged actual demand in the form of people submitting their details.
I looked up Typeform and found its limitations – limited submissions and a low number of questions.
I went on to Jotform- free for 100 submissions and feature-rich. The other thing is that they have a data store in the form of tables. That serves very well as a database for the matcher application. It also has a feature to quickly create an HTML app that is mobile responsive.
Perhaps I went for Jotform because Jotform’s mascot is a friendly cat named Podo. The website says: “When he’s not helping users create purrfect online forms, Podo loves snacking on tuna and wearing fun costumes!”. Well, different strokes for different folks...
So here are the two primary application forms built on Jotform.
1. One for Founders to give us some information about their startups. >> https://form.jotform.com/renjitphilip/startup-registration-form
2. The other one is for folks who are interested in joining startups as a co-founder>> https://form.jotform.com/renjitphilip/co-founder-application-form
For now, we will perform a partly automated matching operation and send emails without contact information but with enough information for the following:
1) Founders: to decide if they want to speak to a particular co-founder candidate
2) Co-founders: to determine if they're going to work with a specific founder
No contact information will be revealed until both parties agree to exchange information. The only human who will see your contact info and name is me. This application will work basis the trust you have in me!
Let us give it a shot for 90 days. If we get 50+ co-founder candidates and at least 25+ startups in that time, it is worth automating and building more on top of this database. As usual, please keep your feedback coming because this could be much better! Perhaps, I need to look for a technical co-founder after establishing demand…