In my 15 years of experience founding startups, one of the biggest challenges was building the right team. Finding people who are not only qualified for the job but also ready to share your vision and commit to it can be really hard. So I’ve decided to share some of the insights I’ve gained over the years to help you search for the perfect co-founder for your new venture.
Some of the rules are universal and can be applied to most companies (I even followed them while looking for new members for my band!). Some are more specific to tech startups.
I’ll walk you through 6 strategies I used to find technical co-founders for my startups.
In addition, I’ll talk about 5 rules I consider absolutely crucial for finding a co-founder, whether for a tech or a non-tech company.
Let’s get started!
How to increase chances of finding an awesome technical co-founder?
Nowadays, a good idea isn’t enough to convince a CTO (or later, an investor) to come on board of your project. As I mentioned before in a post about the MVP – Execution is the key.
You need to find a technical founder who can deliver.
Apart from the execution, these are some points worth keeping in mind:
Build an MVP
Have something tangible. It doesn’t have to be a ready-to-use app at all!
# If you are a sales person – Have a killer pitch to sell your idea or start building a customer base.
# If you are a marketer – Blog about your product or just run a landing page and collect your first leads.
# If you are a UI/UX Designer – Build an amazing clickable prototype.
# If you aren’t a designer – Read more about building an app as non-designer. It’s not that hard!
Look for a technical founder who is committed to one project – yours
You don’t want to work with someone who is on a full-time position in a big corporation and will be involved in three different startups on the side. You need to find somebody who is willing to change the world with you and devote all their time and resources to your idea. Only that way you have a chance of having a fruitful collaboration.
Staying focused is the key to success.
Remember, developers don’t always make great CTOs
It’s hard to tell in advance if a developer/technical co-founder you employ to build the first version of the product is going to be a good CTO. Simply having the technical skills to deliver a digital product doesn’t automatically make someone the best candidate for the position.
In most of the cases – technical co-founders will quickly figure out themselves that they don’t want to be CTOs. They will find that rather than managing and hiring people for projects, they prefer to roll up their sleeves and be directly involved in the development themselves.
In any case, you need to keep in mind that being a CTO requires a different skill set than being a software developer. You need someone who doesn’t just know the tech stuff inside out but can also effectively manage projects, schedule tasks and resolve problems within the team. In other words, you need a tech-savvy businessman.
Find a hard-worker
The first few months of running your own company are extremely hard. If you’ve ever been a founder, you know it’s blood, sweat, and tears for a long long time down the line. You will push yourself to the limits and you need someone who is ready to do the same for the company.
Look for someone who can demonstrate dedication to their work over a long period of time. Someone who takes an ownership over the project and feels personally responsible for it. Ask about the challenges they faced in their previous endeavours and how they handled them: you need someone who doesn’t take “impossible” for an answer.
Or maybe you can hire a software development house or a freelancer?
Without a developer, Groove would never get built. Here’s how I took the first step to turning my idea into a business.
Alex Turnbull, CEO of Groove
Read the full story of Alex Turnbull, an extremely successful CEO who is making ca. $400k/month off his amazing SaaS business. He started with outsourcing his MVP to an agency. And it worked!
Places & Ideas to find a tech co-founder
Look for a co-founder in your neighbourhood via LinkedIn. Here’s a great read from Dave Nevogt, a co-founder of Hubstaff, about finding a technical co-founder for his own company that way.
#Founders Dating Portals
Looking for a co-founder is very much like dating. You’re both nervous, you don’t know what to expect and you want to make a good impression. So why not put your OkCupid experience to use and hit those “online dating” sites for co-founders? 🙂
CoFoundersLab – The biggest matchmaking site for entrepreneurs to find their one and only (works for all industries).
Founder Dating – Comparable to the previous one but it’s always good to do more searching.
Founder2be – Find a co-founder or just get feedback on your startup idea through their rating system – connects startupers from more than 100 countries.
CollabFinder – This one is not strictly for co-founder hunting. You can share your project idea with the community and find people to collaborate.
There are two kinds of Facebook groups you can use to post your ad about co-founder recruitment. Make sure you target various ones and make your post as visible as possible.
Look for groups containing startup related keywords and the location in their name i.e. ‘startup + name of your city/country’ to target more local audience.
#Hackathons/Startup Weekends etc.
You can test-drive your co-founder by attending hackathons, startup weekends and similar events in your area. You don’t even have to be on the team with him/her. Just keep an eye out for people whose talent and personality really makes them stand out in the crowd.
# Lean Startup Machine Events – Held all over the world, this amazing startup workshop shows you how to build a business in 3 days. Read about my first lean startup experience.
# Startup Weekend – No experience needed for this workshop: you have 54 hours to deliver a working product (with help from the coaches of course). Great event for networking and learning new skills.
# Hackathons – Hackathons are developer/tech-oriented events that are becoming hugely popular and are most definitely being held in your city as well. The idea is to deliver an awesome software/hardware project in the span of 1 to 3 days.
#Events for Startups/Developers
# Startup Digest – A newsletter with local startup events nearby. Active all around the world.
# Meetup.com – The biggest curated site for finding meetups and events (not only tech-related)
#Friends & Family
Simple but effective: look for your co-founder within your private social network!
Talk about your ideas during a dinner party and ask friends if they know anyone who could be the right fit for you. Your perfect co-founder might be just round the corner looking for a business like yours to join!
Share your co-founder recruitment ad on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and whatever other social media you’re using. You never know where you might find the right person.
# What will compel a technical person to team up with a non-technical founder (based on survey)
# Please stop asking how to find a technical co-founder (discussion on Hacker News)
Good luck with looking for your technical co-founder!