September 25, 2022

Trial Projects

Once you've had a couple calls with your matches and would like to evaluate the fit of a co-founder match further, try working on a trial project together!

Why should you do a trial project?

You can only assess so much about another founder from phone or video calls. Working together on a time-boxed project will give you a deeper understanding of how you work with each other.

What makes a good trial project?

  • Clearly defined timeline and scope: a good trial project has a clear goal and can be completed in a reasonable timeline based on the schedules of both founders.
  • Deliverables: agree on the outcomes and who has ownership of the deliverables should you decide not to work together in the future.
  • Collaborative, not exploitative: one co-founder should not feel like they’re working for the other co-founder.

Some examples of good projects:

  • Mini hackathon - brainstorm ideas together, vet the best ideas based on passion/excitement and resources, and then build and execute an MVP together.
  • Contract work - scope a series of tasks that fits into the early startup that one founder has already been working on, and then determine if you work well together and are equally passionate about the idea.

Ready to get started?

  1. Go to the matches section of your dashboard. Find the co-founder that you want to work with, and make sure you've clicked "We met!" Click into the "View notes" section, and click "Invite to Trial" to start a trial project! Only one co-founder has to do this.
  2. Customize and complete the Trial Project Agreement.
  3. Communicate! Make sure you're in full agreement of the terms. If for some reason you cannot finish what you started, let your potential co-founder know.
  4. Good luck and have fun!

Sample trial project agreement

Trial participant names

  1. Katherine Bernstein
  2. Catheryn Li

We intend to work together on the following project to determine our viability as potential startup co-founders.

Timeline and accountability

Starting on Aug 23, 2021 until Sep 17, 2021, we agree to work together on the project outlined below.

We commit to spending 40+ hours a week working on our project.

On Sep 17, 2021, we will meet to evaluate our project and discuss whether we want to continue working together.

Project details


Customizable co-founder hard vs soft filters

Goals and deliverables:

1. Re-build the code infrastructure to support hard and soft filters for any subject. 2. Experiment with some subset of users to see if the customizable filters positively impact users. 3. Ship it!


If we decide not to work together at the conclusion of the project, the assets produced during the duration of the project belong to:

YC and the Startup School team own all the code that Cat and Kat write.