, the matchmaking service for entrepreneurs, recently rolled out a premium membership. The pro membership is currently offered as a free trial on the company's website, and gives members access to advanced tools, search filters and product discounts not accessible to general members.
Shahab Kaviani and Culin Tate founded CoFoundersLab in 2011 out of what Kaviani saw as a necessity. "The single biggest culprit for start-up failure [are] founder-related issues," he explains. "I worked on another start-up [with a family member] for seven to eight years and grew it to 30 people. For my next business, I wanted to be objective. I wanted to find someone to work with based on skills."
Kaviani started offline in Rockville, Md., holding meetups in person on his own dime. The Rockville development office (REDI) gave him some support, and after partnering with Tate, whom he met at a meetup, Kaviani took his offline meetups on the road, eventually building a client base in 20 cities around the country.
CoFoundersLab was part of The Fort
's inaugural cohort in March 2012, which granted the company access to seed capital and other start-up assistance.
"In 2012, we launched an online matching service to bridge the offline and online [meetup] services," Kaviani states. "Entrepreneurs post profiles, and the site recommends matches based on industry, the skills you have, and a personality profile." CoFoundersLab also allows members to filter potential matches based on a number of parameters including location or university affiliation, among others.
Kaviani and Tate are building partnerships with other organizations as CoFoundersLab grows. They are offering branded portals of their site for TechStars, for New York University, and for the National Society for Collegiate Scholars, a million-member nonprofit of "smart students at the top the universities across the country," says Kaviani.
CoFoundersLab plans to launch internationally soon. Kaviani, however, likes to be in D.C. "You can create innovation hubs anywhere," he explains, "as long as people are committed for the long term. I spent five years in San Francisco. I liked the start-up scene there, and I wanted to bring a slice of that back [to D.C.]. We've got a lot of investment capital here. Momentum is really starting to build."