It has often been said that finding a co-founder for a startup is like finding your future husband or wife. Working shoulder to shoulder with other founders on a project is like being married. Creating and nurturing a product into maturity is like raising a child.

Those metaphors then led me to think about what could be a proper dating process for such future parents to meet in the first place. There another metaphor clicked into place — “hackathon is to meet your co-founder”. Hence, a future spouse. That has a lot of truth to it, especially because of the multiple issues you must overcome together. You face stress and deadlines, you have to brainstorm collectively, and you get to feel each person’s rough edges, their way of working, what they will and won’t do, etc.

All that is certainly true, participants come out of them even with a very clear understanding — is it possible to work together or not. Of course, more important is time after — can people commit, can they change their lives, can they focus. But still, hackathon works as a date for future parents of world-changing products.

However, it is very tough for a first date. It is like first meeting your date and immediately going on a 30-kilometer hike, with sleeping in the wild and two team obstacle courses in unexpected places during the event.

Maybe there could be a simpler version of the same hackathon date built? Something more like going out together for an evening, instead of meeting one’s family and choosing the tapestry together, as a first date experience.

There could be an event, that would last only for an evening, where people would split in pairs or in threes and would try to build something. Build not some of their world-changing ideas but something more straightforward. Something palpable and evening-sized. For example, some cool robots from Lego Mindstorm or other robotic kits could be used. Or some model in a visual programming language. Something out of their own comfort zone for most of the participants, interesting for techies, yet feasible also for non-techies. Something for everybody to show off the skill of working together, creativity, communication, and aptitude for co-creation.

There could even be a speed-dating version of the event. Each pair has five minutes to play with one puzzle together, to tell a bit about themselves, and to share an idea or two.

Everybody needs somebody. With such an event, all that will be left will be to come up with a name for a person who has not yet found his partner(s) in creation. A “single” founder.

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