Finding a co-founder is notoriously tricky. In-demand technical founders have their choice of projects. Personalities need to not clash, and passion for the company's vision should be pretty evenly distributed.

With all the factors already in play, the last thing you want is to make it even more difficult on yourself. And if you're starting up in one of these verticals--cloud services, hardware, or financial services and payments--that's just what you might be doing, according to a fascinating recent blog post from FounderDating, a sort of invite-only LinkedIn exclusively for entrepreneurs.

The site regularly crunches through the trove of data on what its members are up to, releasing the results on its blog to shed some light on trends among startup founders. The company's latest effort was to sort those using FounderDating into three groups--business development people, engineering talent, and designers. It then compared which industries and niches each group says they are most interested in, to look for mismatches.

Apparently, there are a few glaring differences between what gets your average designer and your average MBA excited. If you're in the market for a co-founder in any of the fields below, these wide gaps in interest are worth bearing in mind.

Cloud Services

Engineers, apparently, are way keener on companies doing things around cloud services than business development folks are. "One of the biggest surprises is Cloud Services," writes FounderDating co-founder Jessica Alter in the post. "It ranked five spots lower for business-focused entrepreneurs than it did for engineering-focused entrepreneurs." Still, this mismatch in interest isn't slowing down the action in the space. There is "no shortage of these companies starting," she reports.

Hardware

Again, techies love the space. Business-oriented founders, less so. "Consumer electronics, wearable tech, smart home, and robotics," have all jumped in popularity, according to Alter, but that's mostly down to the technical entrepreneurs on the site. "There is significantly more interest from engineers than biz entrepreneurs," she says.

Perhaps more surprising, designers are also less interested in hardware, or at least some sections of the vertical. Alter calls this "fairly shocking, given the design renaissance spearheaded by Apple and brought home by Nest, August, and many others," and also notes that "Wearable Tech has better alignment than the other categories--General Hardware, Robotics, and Smart Home. Seems to be there is more interest from designers in consumer-focused, visible products."

Financial Services and Payments

Designers, apparently, just aren't that turned on by finance startups. "Square aside, designers just don't seem all that excited about the payments arena. This is true across the board--between designers and engineers and designers and biz," Alter reports, though she adds that perhaps Apple Pay might change things.

What does get design talent fired up? Consumer-focused verticals like Media and Travel saw outsize interest.

So what should you do if you're thinking of starting up in one of these areas? Perhaps nothing, concludes Alter. While these misalignments are interesting for discussion and could conceivably nudge an entrepreneur wavering between two business plans toward one or the other, passion definitely trumps cold calculation about the ease of locating a co-founder when finally settling on a startup idea, Alter stresses.

"At the end of the day, though, entrepreneurs need to go after problems they are passionate about," she concludes.

Did any of the mismatched verticals surprise you?

Published on: Nov 13, 2014