Attracting a Technical Co-Founder

November 15, 2012   |   Business
Agile League

I’ve had several conversations with potential entrepreneurs who have an idea and are looking for a technical co-founder to help with the implementation. Often they are surprised that every coder they talk to doesn’t immediately quit their job to sign on. After all, this is an awesome idea, so why can’t I find a coder to make it for me?

I try to emphasize that savvy coders are not looking for an idea guy. Everyone has ideas, and while good ideas aren’t worthless, they’re still not enough to build a company on. Instead, the smart coders are looking for a business partner, someone whose business skill and salesmanship is a good complement to the coder’s technical skill.

The best way to show that you’re a business guy and not just an idea guy is to get out there and hustle before even landing your co-founder.

From worst to best, here’s what you can come to the table with:

  • I’ve got an idea.
  • I think we can get my friend’s dad to be our first customer.
  • I’ve got a list of 10 people who might be potential customers.
  • I’ve got a list of 10 people I’ve already talked to and they’re interested and want to see more when we launch.
  • I’ve got a list of 10 people who have signed a letter of intent stating that they’ll pay for this service once we launch.
  • I’ve got a list of 10 people who have signed a contract and are paying us money. We need to launch quickly because we already have customers!

As you move down the list, you (the non-technical co-founder) are putting more and more effort in and more of your reputation is on the line. This proves to your prospective co-founder that you’re willing to work hard to make this thing a success and that you have the skill and guts to make it happen. You’re proving that if the tech guy can deliver on the tech side, you are more than capable of delivering on the business side.

Get out there and hustle and start building your company before even approaching a technical co-founder. Then, when you go to a hacker meetup and step to the front of the room to give your pitch, you will stand way out from all the other guys with a vague idea who just need a coder to make them rich.