Don’t judge me.
Technology accelerators are key for securing seed capital, connecting with investors and learning if your business has what it takes, so I decided to take this route before diving into the pond with the sharks. With ambitions to only work with the best in the industry, I desperately wanted to get into Techstars, one of the top mentorship-driven seed accelerators in the world. I’d also heard multiple investors make known that they didn’t invest in solo founders. Only knowing a handful of Black founders who went through Techstars, none of them being solo founders, I knew that getting into this program would be competitive but I was up for it. As a Black female founder, we are told that we need to have a preferably male, ideally white co-founder to validate us for programs like Techstars. I started looking for founders who had either a failing startup or one that was very early-on and could use the experience of working with me.
Investors told me that I needed a co-founder because what I was building was hard. I get it, they want you to have a backup that’s equally driven and passionate about the company. But the only way you’re going to have that is if you really did both come up with the idea and you really do co-found it. I was virtually impossible to bring someone into a business that’s been running for five years and pretend they are just as passionate or know the industry just as much as I did. BUT I needed money and figured I would fake it until I make it. So I needed a warm body to sit in the seat, smile, and play co-founder.
My dating life as a founder was pretty much non-existent at the time, but I downloaded dating apps for entertainment and to network when traveling. After months of an exhaustive co-founder search, I had to get creative. Here’s when I took the term ‘founder dating’ to a whole new level… my options ran out and I turned to a Tinder match to be my co-founder.
I connected with this guy while swiping in LA and we decided to meet up. We went on a few dates but most of our conversations were about business. He was fascinated with the start-up community that I was a part of and he spent a lot time talking about his start up that he was working on (that was not going so well). He was excitedly telling me about all of the…