Finding business partners the eHarmony way.

So much for the quiet long weekend.  I got into a fairly long Twitter conversation with Nichola Bates (@growsalesonline), Chris McCabe (@maxer08), Jackie McGonigle (@whatsonni), Lyra McKee (@LyraMcKee) and Mary McKenna (@MMaryMcKenna) about something that really makes me tick… data!Well I was looking at the data angle of it I’m pretty sure the rest were looking from another angle.  It was triggered by a blog post that Mary did a few days ago about having two pros of having two heads at the helm of the business (you can read it here).  The question then was raised, how do you find the perfect match of a business partner?There are some sites out there like LinkedIn and which do provide a start but nothing that could actually predict anything.  The key to all of this are two simple things: rules and knowledge.eHarmony works in the same way.  The questionnaire when you sign up is the key bit, it’s the data gathering that figures who you are and what you are prepared to put up with.  The next key is figuring out what you are actually looking for.The following is an actual advert (why they listed on Gumtree I’ll never know but there you are, each to their own and all that).We are an angling retailer based in manchester. We are a new breed of retailer, with a great USP. We have a vision for future growth and are now looking to grow the business.We are looking for a partner/Investor/Mentor. Preferably someone who has an interest in angling. The ideal person is someone who would like to take an hands on approach. Experience in the retail trade and IT.We have been trading since June 2009, much work has already been done.We have a website already up and running, ecommerce site, 200+ Customers.Business name, brand name and trademarks have already been registered with IPO.This is a great opportunity for the right person.Ingoing is 10K.Quick return is predicted and all targets are seen as highly achievable.So the jump out points:

  • Hands on investor in sales/IT
  • Min invest of 10K
  • Likes angling (call it active interest in the investment)
  • Based in North West of England
  • Early stage startup
  • Retail experience

You could network your brains out for six months getting to every event you could, shaking loads of hands, doing lots of meetings and it could all come to nothing.  Or you could go the eHarmony way plough all your wants and needs into the system and let the site whittle the list of eligible partners down for you.  That filters the wheat from the chaff.  Then it’s a case of meeting them all (pink carnation and a newspaper job) and doing the rest from there.Obviously a system like this is only as good as the data it has from potential plenty-of-fish-in-the-sea business partners.Weekends off, who needs them?

2 responses to “Finding business partners the eHarmony way.”

  1. Jase,I really love this idea, but the big attraction for me would be some sort of compatiblity testing from the outset. With a startup you kinda don’t have 6 months getting to know eachother time, so I’d like to have some of that done up front. I know it’s not a guarantee but I think that it would save you killing eachother 😉 perhaps the partnership agreement could include a null and void clause if you find out your partner has told significant porkies in the intial questionnaire? God knows you don’t want to end up with an ugly one 🙂

  2. Sorry to disagree on this guys but I just do… The prospect of finding a business partner on the internet fills me with complete dread. Mary’s blog about this is spot on – there’s no way that Learning Pool would have survived with just one of us running it – we would have crippled under the insane pressure in the early days and even now. The business partner bit of this is about having two people (I think more is unworkable too btw) that commit completely to the success of the business and are relentless in their execution against the plan. Complementary skills etc is just a given.For me there is no other way around this – finding a business partner is about getting out there, meeting people, understanding what makes them tick and taking a chance that together you’ll be able to pull off the impossible… its certainly not about data!On a slighly seperate point, if I ever filled out a questionnaire like this it would be, well, a complete lie.. I’m sure I’m not alone as an entrepreneur! Not a great start to a business relationship!

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