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Learning to code vs. finding a true tech cofounder?

I'm an (arguably) smart, motivated "entrepreneur" with a first class (Finance) education and great sales skills. I've tried hiring programmers, local development firms and outsourcing (oDesk) all without success. In frustration I've taken to learning enough programming to personally do mockup to database schema to site architecture . . . but I now fear building out a (amateurish) minimal viable product myself only slightly less than sending cheques out into the void (again).

Obviously there are myriad variables but is (my hope) of finding a passionate, capable techie realistic -- or is it still such a sellers market for their services?


40 Replies

Karl Schulmeisters
1
0
Karl Schulmeisters Entrepreneur
CTO ClearRoadmap
There is a sellers market for those services. And you can still acquire them. If you have great sales skills you ought be able to persuade a tech entrepreneur to jump in with you. but the reality is that you will have to part with quite a bit of equity if you don't have the cash to pay them full rate
Dan Rubenfield
17
0
Dan Rubenfield Advisor
Chief Technical Officer at VREAL
Don't treat it like a service. The techie is a partner. That's a very different relationship.

Get out and about with your local developer community. Hell, use this community to start discussions with similar folks.

It really is akin to dating. You're creating the core of a new company. It's a team, and a team is more than just ticking the boxes for complementary skills. It's a mixture of personality, work styles, ethics, goals, etc.

So yeah. Quit treating the tech portion like a single problem to be shipped off, solved and then returned. If it were that easy everyone would do it.
Alejandro Carrasco
2
0
Alejandro Carrasco Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur
I've been able to outsource the wireframes and MVP to a team overseas but definitely know that to take it to the next level you have to get a partner just as Dan said. Both need to challenge each other. Treat it like a marriage. Don't jump on any offer. Do your due diligence.
Grant Sernick
7
0
Grant Sernick Entrepreneur
Co-Founder at LoyolyPRO
Hi Mike,

Finding a tech partner is kind of like finding somebody to fund your project. Everyone knows how it's done, but it's almost impossible to find.

I had been trying to find a tech co-founder for a couple years, with no success. We had hired one person and it didn't work out. We tried a second person, and that too failed. We finally tried working with an offshore team and it has worked out really well. They are not part of the Loyoly team, they are third party contractors (and don't have equity - but I will give them a small chunk because they are so good). But they act like they are part of our team, and the relationship has worked really well. They are cheap, which is the biggest benefit, but they are also good. Good...not great. If what you are doing is an MVP, or even a working beta, and your goal is to get funded, then this is one way to go that costs not very much, allows you to retain your equity, and minimize risk. Once you have gotten far enough to raise money, then you can hire local talent. Once you are paying them, then you can give up less equity.

Finding great guys overseas is a real challenge. If you are interested, I'm happy to put you in touch with my guys. Just PM me. I can fill you in on the pros/cons, and you can make a decision as to how you want to proceed.
Sasha Matison
0
0
Sasha Matison Entrepreneur
Building The Future of People Analytics
Hi Mike, Have you considered devdraft.com? It does the tech screening for you. Regards, Sasha
Dick Hardt
9
0
Dick Hardt Advisor
Identity Guy at Amazon Web Services
Perhaps you should look to join a tech founder that needs a sales / finance guy?
Farhad Faqiri
3
0
Farhad Faqiri Entrepreneur
Founder & CEO Easydeck
I agree with Grant,
I have hired many freelancers and am currently working with a team in Russia. It would definitely be MUCH better to have a technical co-founder because of MANY reasons. But unless you have the right connections or an extremely popular idea it is almost impossible to get a technical individual to work for just equity..there is just too much demand for them.

Good luck!
Howard Postley
15
0
Howard Postley Advisor
Advisor / Investor / Designer / Entrepreneur
Please take this in the spirit of trying to be helpful. To be blunt, you sound like you have a chip on your shoulder. You've tried some things that haven't worked out and gravitated toward the world of, "if you want something done right you have to do it yourself." I feel for you. However, just because what you've tried hasn't worked doesn't mean those things can't work. More important than that they haven't worked is why.

Hiring programmers, contracting local development firms or using oDesk are, to the first order, essentially the same thing: paying someone else to implement your vision. Here's a bit of a secret about programmers: nobody *wants* to build what someone else wants the way someone else wants it. People do that, but they don't really want to. Everyone wants to be pointed in the right direction and given the opportunity to shine. The absolute worst case is when you pay someone to do what you want, your way, and there is no evidence that the end-user wants that.

Unless you are targeting a design-heavy business/problem, if your MVP address the issue, the look of it, however amateurish, won't kill you. If it does, I would question whether you've actually solved the problem and if it is sufficiently important. At some level, you should be able to do a single use case version in PowerPoint, or any number of other "code-free" tools, and you should. Whether or not you ever show that to a potential user, it will still be a good exercise and communication tool.

So, to address your actual question, "is your hope of finding a passionate and capable techie realistic?" The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that, "passionate," means that he or she will have strong opinions that you may or may not agree with. "Capable" would not be a word I use in this context as it sounds like it means, "the bare minimum." You want a passionate rockstar and, essentially, by definition, you can't hire those. What you can do is refine your problem solution concept to the point where some passionate rockstars will feel that the best use of their passion and rockstar skills is to make that concept a reality. In other words, those are your first customers.
John Skelly
2
0
John Skelly Entrepreneur
Founder, CEO at GasAnywhere
Hi there. Like you, over time I acquired all the skills to do things myself, and while this has been valuable, I've learned that there aren't enough hours in life to do it all. Successful entrepreneurs succeed first in understanding big picture and know *how* to put things together, then focus on building their team of folks to actually build it. Once MVP is rolling, you'll need at least one partner to focus on builds/products while you evangelize the hell out of it and do the bizdev (or vice versa). With those two slots, there's potential to continue building. Best of luck to you and let me know if you would like to talk further!
Divyank Shukla
0
0
Divyank Shukla Advisor
AWS Certified Solution Architect
Hi Mike,Kindly view my profile @ in.linkedin.com/in/divyanks and in.linkedin.com/in/arunabhtrivediWe are also looking for Business Development.Lets sync sometime to assess if we can be a good match. I have an MVP ready and can help getting MVP done for some of cool ideas. Think of us as remote Virtual CTO. RegardsDivyank
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