FounderDating Breaks the First Rule of Trust—I Will Never Use This Site

True story: two weeks ago I received an email from an entrepreneur I know and respect (who will remain unnamed). It read as follows:

Hi Drummond,

I’ve just joined FounderDating (no, it’s NOT romantic) – a handpicked network of entrepreneurs connecting with advisors and other talented entrepreneurs. Can you do me a quick favor by leaving a quick vouch (aka reference) for me as an advisor? Should take 2 minutes.
http://members.founderdating.com/advisor/vouch/63582/

(To prove that you’re the real Drummond, you will be asked to use LinkedIn.)

Unlike with some systems, this will help me make much more meaningful connections with potential advisees.

Thank you,
[Name Withheld]

Knowing that this entrepreneur was a very discriminating person who chose his words carefully, I considered this a ringing endorsement of this new site. So I went out of my way to provide a vouch for him.

The site subsequently contacted me with the following email with the subject line, “VIP Invite”:

Hi Drummond:

We noticed your background and wanted to invite you to be a part of a select group of current FounderDating members that are Advisors on FD:Advisors. It’s an expansion of the FounderDating platform that allows entrepreneurs and advisors to meaningfully connect. Others members on FD:Advisors include, Aaron Batalion (CTO/Cofounder, LivingSocial), Josh Handy (Lead Designer, Method Products), Katherine Woo (Chief Product Officer, Kiva) and Sean Byrnes (Cofounder, Flurry), just to name a few.

It’s an opportunity to showcase your expertise, help awesome entrepreneurs and streamline the advisor requests you already get even if you’re not open to others. There is no upfront time commitment. Just click on the button below and fill in your areas of expertise (the ones you want to advise on). We curate the network, but with this invite you are pre-approved.

START ADVISING

Hope to see you online,

Jessica

Cofounder/CEO, FounderDating

Again, given the enthusiasm of the original note I received from the original entrepreneur—and that I am a student of Internet reputation systems given my work on the Respect Trust Framework and Connect.Me—I decided to go ahead and take the plunge. I filled out a few forms, selected a few interest areas, and then did the obligatory selection of a few people would who might vouch for me—chosen from a list of my LinkedIn contacts, of course.

FounderDating never asked me to write or customize a message to them. But this morning, one of them forwarded the email he received (again, I’m redacting his name to protect the innocent):

Hi [Name-Withheld],

I’ve just joined FounderDating (no, it’s NOT romantic) – a handpicked network of entrepreneurs connecting with advisors and other talented entrepreneurs. Can you do me a quick favor by leaving a quick vouch (aka reference) for me as an advisor? Should take 2 minutes.
http://members.founderdating.com/advisor/vouch/63582/

(To prove that you’re the real [Name-Withheld], you will be asked to use LinkedIn.)

Unlike with some systems, this will help me make much more meaningful connections with potential advisees.

Thank you,
Drummond

Ah-ha. I immediately realized that the email I first received was NOT written by the entrepreneur who I thought composed it, but rather forged on his behalf, just like this one was forged on my behalf.

Poof. There went all the trust I will ever have in FounderDating.com. I strongly urge that you do not patronize this site. I will not respond to any email or any vouch request from them again.

P.S. When I went to the site to delete my account (for which they had never given me a credential), I clicked the sign-in button and got this error message:

{“connections”:1}

That’s it. They won’t even give me a way to leave.

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About Drummond Reed

Internet entrepreneur in identity, personal data, and trust frameworks
This entry was posted in Connect.Me, Customer Service, Entrepreneurs, Reputation, Respect Trust Framework and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to FounderDating Breaks the First Rule of Trust—I Will Never Use This Site

  1. Joe says:

    When I first heard about FounderDating, I thought it was a good concept. However as time went by, they become extremely aggressive with sending out emails, it was perhaps everyday or even a few times a day. At this point, I started to become skeptical and I opted out. Well the opt out did not work, so after receiving a number of other emails, I opted out again. They stopped sending for about 5 days and then sure enough, I started to once again get their emails. It wasn’t until I threatened legal action did the stop with the emails. Also just note, it’s very difficult to find their address or phone number, it appears want to shield themselves from the outside world perhaps from things like lawsuits and complaint contacts. My personal experience has not been good and because of this, I do not recommend doing business with FounderDating.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Joe. Once I saw the auto-generated emails they were sending as if they were from me, I was outathere. And never going back.

      What I don’t understand is how they ever thought they could build a business that way.

  2. Joe says:

    i am an extremely busy person, my best guess is that they are serving those who are hungry for opportunities and probably don’t have much else going on for them.

  3. Indra Singhal says:

    I am a recent victim – I spent all day yesterday contacting those who were thankful “I” vouched for them, and others who were glad to vouch for me and in the process becoming victims themselves. This incident has damaged my own reputation, and that of my trusted contacts. I have evidence that they, without my permission, imported my personal contacts and sent forged emails to them in 3 or 4 flavors.

    What they are doing is not right and is criminal. This should not be allowed to go on – bad actors like FounderDating ruins the space for everyone. What can be done to shine a light on them so others don’t fall for their shananigans?

    • Indra, at the very least, what can be done is for all of us to blog and tweet and post about it. It’s a crude form of reputation management but it works in egregious cases like this.

  4. Dave Vockell says:

    Last week they asked if I wanted to use their talent finding service, this week they hit up all my employees to get them to look for new jobs with the service.

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