How to find a technical co-founder in 5 steps
Opinions expressed by Contractor the contributors are theirs.
In society, there are very few people inclined to entrepreneurship and risk: Only 0.33% of people become entrepreneurs every year. And there are even fewer of these risk-takers among developers. Usually, a person inclined to entrepreneurship will not spend his life in IT, and if he becomes a developer, he will very quickly move up to top management or leave to work on his own ideas.
Therefore, the likelihood of running into a risk-loving IT developer is very low. And that’s why it can be so difficult to attract them.
Before presenting a project to an IT engineer, you must first understand what their motivation is, what they are looking for and what is important to them.
1. Understand the psychology of good IT developers
The situation is such that the market is full of companies paying $200,000 or more for relatively easy work. In most cases, this salary is enough not only to cover the basic needs of all programmers. At the same time, people who become IT developers are rarely greedy. In other words, their main motivation is usually not money. They have no desire to move mountains for imaginary millions.
When a risk-tolerant, big-money entrepreneur (first founder) seeks out a developer (ideally, second founder) who is risk averse and already has all their needs met, it can lead to a misunderstanding. They just don’t value each other’s goals. These different worldviews could help develop a solid business, but they must first agree.
The entrepreneur will probably think he’s found some kind of lazy guy. They think I offered him a way to make millions if he just puts in the effort! But he refuses and chooses to work for miserable hundreds of thousands of people! And the developer will probably think that the contractor is just another rascal who wants to do work for free when normal people usually have six figures. For a successful interaction, it is important to understand this difference in perspective.
Related: Looking for a startup idea? Here are 10 you can steal
2. The right approach
Most experienced engineers with advanced soft skills can make good co-founders – if they see that it makes sense for them to leave their comfortable job to try and develop your idea. This means that they must understand that even if the project fails, they will receive some kind of benefit for themselves. For example, an impressive paragraph on a resume or a mastery of a promising new technology.
To achieve this, the project must meet one of these conditions:
Working on a project should feel like a hackathon, not monotonous hard work. Short fight – and potentially big wins. For example, you might say you plan to work on a demo for four days, show it to investors, get $100,000, and go to the startup accelerator. Then, a month after the review, you expect your startup to get a multi-million estimate and on demo day, you close the seed round for $500,000. That’s big potential gains, considering the developer only had to spend four full days on a demo.
Your project may look good on a tech co-founder’s resume so they can then potentially land a better-paying job. For example, you want to develop an application on a stack that they want to study but cannot in their current position. Think things like machine learning, neural networks, and blockchain.
The developer likes the idea, it can make the world a better place and the developer is very motivated to bring it to life.
Ideally, of course, these three conditions are met.
3. How to pitch a project
If you can’t test hypotheses, research customers, reach investors, and sell and promote, then as a co-founder you’re useless in a technology project. You won’t find a good technical manager who would be happy to work with you.
Therefore, when you communicate with a developer, you should already have the answers to all the basic questions:
What evidence is there that the future product will be in demand?
How will we promote the product?
What is the unit economics of the product?
Where’s the money in that?
How much can you earn?
What is the minimum effort you need to invest to get the result in the near future?
Where can we find investments?
Where are we going to look for customers?
What are our competitive advantages?
If there are no answers to these questions, you don’t need a co-founder, you need an online course in marketing and sales, and then years of practice. job where you can hone your skills.
Show that there is a minimum of technical effort required and that most uncertainties have been removed. Show that the developer has next to nothing to risk and that some people are waiting for a technical prototype and are willing to pay.
Related: 9 tips for hiring startups
4. Concrete examples of pitches to the co-founder
There are only a few minutes left in the pitch to pique their interest. Here are two actual examples that I have come across that have been approached to me if I recall. In short, this is how you should and shouldn’t pitch your idea.
Wrong: I have an idea for a social network for art lovers. We will make a prototype, show investors (which I don’t know yet, but I think someone will be interested, now they invest in anything). We’ll have money, at least $200,000, so promotion won’t be a problem. We will buy online advertising and hire a marketing specialist. The idea is in demand, all my friends said they would use it.
Good: I do CRM for construction workers, I have been in the construction industry for 10 years. I know many leaders of large construction companies, I have already agreed with three companies on the pilot, one of them has already made a small advance. I have already contacted interested funds and a startup accelerator, and a designer I know has put a basic design on four screens, I need the help of a good developer to implement a simple technical prototype . If the prototype is successful, we can open a new market for 12 billion dollars.
5. Where to look for experienced, risk-tolerant developers
Hackathons / Online competitions – There are a lot of active, smart people who love and know how to make technical prototypes in a short time, and they may already have well-coordinated teams.
HackerRank/Codility/Qualified/CodersRank – These websites rate developers and build a community around them. Obviously you need someone who is not at the bottom of the score list.
Meetings and conferences – Many developers who want to take the next step in their career go there.
Outsourcing Websites – There are companies, like Smartbrain.io, whose core business employs only the best developers (seniors, tech leads and tech executives). Get in touch with someone who works in the field you need, or just hire one to get started.
Chat rooms in Telegram/Slack – There are plenty, including ones where developers discuss their favorite projects. Having a favorite project is a good indicator that someone can be a co-founder.
Github- Developers who release their libraries to the public are also great co-founders if they get a decent deal.
Ycombinator Startup School – This Ycombinator accelerator startup community also has a co-founder search service.
Related: 5 tips for financing your startup