How to Find a Technical Co-Founder

Technical Co-Founder

I have an idea to build a software company and be the next <insert-big-name-here>. How do I find a technical co-founder? What are all the things that are going to go wrong?

Jim Non-technical Founder

If you’re looking for someone technical, I’m assuming that you’re non-technical, and there are certain skills that you’re bringing to the table. Most importantly, sales. Your first sale is going to be a sale to your co-founder. Make them excited! After all, they are about to start working with you for free (yes, for FREE, because “equity” means nothing at the idea stage), so you better be very convincing!

Be aware that technical people who are really good at what they’re doing get solicited by non-technical founders with ideas all the time. You probably won’t be the first who approaches them. Also they usually have their own thing going, and if not – they are usually very well paid ($200k+ year).

They also see weak spots in these ideas instantly, and have a very fine-tuned BS-meter. My point is, do your homework and present them with the facts. Technical people just love facts: research, diagrams, market analysis, etc. BTW, you’ll need all that when you’ll be looking for investors, so preparing all that is time well-spent.

Then, before even approaching people who you think can be good technical co-founders, build something! Show them that you’re invested already, and not just another guy with another “Facebook, but for dogs” idea. I mean, you can hire people off Freelancer to build your (ugly – but nobody cares at this point) MVP, and get the sales going. Do pre-sales, show traction! At this point you’ll see most of the weak spots in your shiny idea – and hopefully will be able to fix them.

Also be realistic – probably this business is not going to grow into another Google, but still can make you both a very decent living.

Last, but not least, is personality. Most technical people have a pretty difficult one. Don’t just look at their skills, but answer a question if you’ll be able to work with them closely for the next 5+ years.

TL;DR Version

Have clients ready to buy – it’s the best validation of an idea; almost nobody does that

Show your commitment – create an MVP with your bucks

Don’t be greedy – offer 40% of equity; equity means nothing if you don’t build your product

Look for someone who you want to work with as a person, no matter their tech skills

Alternative Version

There are many new grads from technical colleges and universities, who would be excited to join your startup, without all the prerequisites that I just listed!

They’ll be learning at the same time as they’re building the product. More often than not, it’ll be a bad product, but you’ll get some experience in building a company!


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