For Startups Looking for Technical Co-Founders

On almost every public discussion board concerned with technology, one sees these posts from startups who are looking for technology partners. Why do they do that? Is it because they want their product to be built and do not have the adequate capital to get it developed?

My understanding is that most of the times that’s the case. People get enthusiastic about their idea and then they want a technical guy to develop it for them. Once it’s live then everyone –including the tech partner– would get paid much beyond one’s imagination. Right?

Unfortunately, it does not work that way. Think for a moment from a technical person’s standpoint. What would motivate him to sacrifice a fat pay job to come and work with you for free –only against future promise? If one knows you for a while and believes in your abilities then it may work, but it is very tall order for a complete stranger (whom you are targeting in the discussion board). Otherwise you may have to settle for a gullible, low-skilled software guy who stays with you for some time and then flees. A perfect recipe for failure!

Secondly, even if your idea may sound simple, the implementation may not a piece of cake for someone to merrily code away in a couple of months. Software-making is not trivial, and you may require a team to work on it instead of just one guy with a laptop.

My advice is that if you don’t have sufficient money, then first go and arrange for funds. Assuming that you really have a killer idea, talking about it to an investor or fund manager will be more productive than talking to a technical person. They simply have a lot more experience of evaluating ideas.

Even after your idea goes live, you are going to still require funds to market and sell it. You are anyways going to require funds then. Wouldn’t it be easier then if you had started with a good funding?

Once you have funds in your pocket, you have the choice of outsourcing your idea implementation to a software vendor. Choose a good vendor who will be professional, responsive and possibly understands a startup. It’s true that you are burning some money upfront (in implementation), but a good, professionally created product is a prerequisite to your startup’s success.

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8 Responses so far.

  1. kar says:

    Absolutely right,
    DNOT try to find a “Perfect Technical Co-founder” it will never happen, try to learn how to code

  2. kar says:

    ab,
    hope i am not arguing with you, it was be good if, a technical co-founder also thinks, that business co-founder is also as valuable as them, & leave that job to them, but techies,wear the business development hat too

    so if a business guy wanna, step into startup, then either he has to learn how to code, or has to fund the project no way out, (not the case of techies, they are always on the upper hand : – )

    • ab says:

      We seem to be saying the same thing. Creating a product from scratch all by oneself is a very slow process and can take the toll on one. But yes, it could be a way out.

      In case of a techie solopreneur he can probably build the product (or at least the MVC) and then face problems if she does not know how to sell, but in case of business solopreneur he is stuck at the beginning itself. What you say makes sense from that perspective.

      However, the smart thing to do for the business person could be a go to a professional team that can build his product for money. Once the product is ready he can go and sell it (is he is good at it anyways). Maybe he is down with some money, but his equity is not diluted.

  3. […] and lucily, there are no hot discussions about, who is right who is not,  i liked this article here, which reflect the real feeling of a Technical Co-fouder, on how cannot comply to the request of […]

  4. A non-technical founder says:

    I don’t intend to create a debate here. But wish to put my thoughts from the perspective of a non-technical co-founder. Even non-technical co-founder leave their job to pursue the dream (sometimes before they rope into a technical co-founder). It’s just that his time should be utilized more in sales, marketing, strategy, networking and technical co-founder should focus on product development. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that non-tech should not touch code and tech should not do business tasks. At the end of the day, startup has so many things going around.

    As far as validating your idea with industry experts, VCs etc is concerned, it may not be practical and insightful.

    • ab says:

      Your views are welcome. Agreed that there is no reason to have walls between the functions of the tech and non-tech cofounders.

      I wonder why you think validating the idea would not be practical and insightful.

  5. ab says:

    Just wanted to share that there is a free online course intended to teach startup engineering https://www.coursera.org/course/startup – It may be great for non-techie founders who intend to get their hands dirty.

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