The Founder of Yipit takes a look at what it takes to find a technical co-founder. It’s almost never easy, despite what some people tell you. There’s usually quite a few starts and stops along the way, and I’ve found that more and more Founders, become the temporary DIY technical person at the beginning, until they find the right person to fit the project.
If you’ve been struggling, you’ll identify with some of his challenges along the way, and hopefully this article will give you an idea of what you can try next.
“I’ve got this HUGE idea. I just need to find a technical co-founder.” Ugh. I’ve heard that too many times over the last few years and it almost always ends badly.
I was in this situation and we barely escaped. I write this post to put you out of your miserable technical co-founder search and give you some realistic options.
The Challenge of Finding a Technical Co-Founder
To find a great technical co-founder, you need to convince them of the following:
- Your idea is better than all of their ideas
- The equity is worth spending all of their spare time working for no money
- You are worth 50% of the equity of the company
- You will execute and convert an idea into a big successful business
- You’re better than all of the other biz people pitching them
This is a pretty daunting list. You see, good technical co-founders are like the attractive people at the dance. They’re hot, they know it, everyone wants to sleep with them, and they can also go home and sleep with themselves (the analogy got a little weird there, sorry). So, why should they pick you?
Here are your options for finding a technical co-founder. Notice how little control you have over most of them.
- College Roommate or Co-Worker. Your best bet by far is if you have personally known someone for a while and preferably worked together. They are the ones that know you well enough to believe what you are capable of. If you don’t have someone like this, and most of you don’t, you’re in big trouble.
- Have Experience. If you have already started a successful start-up, you’re probably not reading this post because your struggling to find a technical co-founder; you have your pick.
- Have Domain Expertise. You’re starting a new photo sharing site and you were the project manager for Facebook’s photo app; you’re starting a music label disruptor and you worked for a music label for the last five years. As a personal example, when we told people Yipit was going to be a Kayak for the Daily Deal industry, we would have been way more convincing if we had actually worked at Kayak.
- Traction (the Catch 22 option). This is the only one you can, in theory, control. You’d have a lot easier time getting a great technical co-founder to join you if your initial prototype had 20,000 users and growing. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a Catch 22 in that you sort of need a technical co-founder to build you the first version to get traction.
- Social Proof (the other Catch 22 option). If you had Ron Conway/David Lee from SV Angel or Chris Dixon/Eric Paley of Founder’s Collective investing in you, potential technical co-founders would be a lot more interested. Unfortunately, this is also a catch 22 because without experience, domain expertise or traction, it’s highly unlikely they are going to invest in your start up. In many ways, good technical co-founders and angel investors are looking for the same thing.
Your Realistic Options
Most people find themselves here. You don’t know anyone, you don’t have experience, you don’t have traction and you don’t have investors. You just have…