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As a tech guy, I don't know how to run a company. What kind of co-founder do I need for my project?

Hello,

I'm working on my startup project (a web portal) for few months and even if I can handle the tech part all by myself, I know I will need someone to handle the non tech-parts.

But I don't really know what kind of co-founder I'm supposed to search for in order to complete my own profile.

So here is a small explanation: I want to keep the hand on the tech part (so the CTO/CIO positions should be mine at least at the beginning) and I want to keep the global control (51% or more of the shares) so I can decide the overall company direction if needed. But I'm really ready to rely on my co-founder expertise by letting him taking most of the important business, marketing, sales and found rising decisions.

Can I find someone that can handle the company establishment, administratively run it and even work on the business development? Or should I search for multiple partners with different roles? Is there a given title that match what I am looking for?

Thank you for your enlightenments about this problem.

26 Replies

Jonathan Poston
3
0
Jonathan Poston Entrepreneur
Yiveo.com | Medical Marketing Agency
Depending on the business, it's no uncommon to pull in multiple co-founders to serve in different roles (tech, operations, finance, marketing & sales). Slicing Pieis a helpful book (no business affiliation) when thinking about the logistics of bringing in others.
Nick Gray
0
0
Nick Gray Entrepreneur
Co-Founder / Sales / Data Architecture
Firstly - above all else - I'd find someone who believes in your product and can see a niche for it.

The rest probably largely depends on if you have a budget to pay them or if you are offering shares etc.

Good luck!
Bill Kelley
6
0
Bill Kelley Entrepreneur • Advisor
Business Mentor
You need someone with operations experience to handle the business stuff. Typically that person will not be the best evangelist for business development.

Not knowing more about your business, but having some idea of how a web portal would be established and grow, I would advise getting one partner - the evangelist. You need someone to look for and recruit participants - financial and UGC - and run meetings with potential partners and investors. that person is the Jobs to your Wozniak.

The operations person you need at the startup stage is not the operations person you need as the business grows - unless you find someone truly extraordinaty. My advice is to get paid help rather than a partner in the administrative/operations area.
Sanjay Jadhav
0
0
Sanjay Jadhav Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO | CTO | Co-Founder | 5+ Startups | Technopreneur | Product Innovation | Creative | Strategist
I agree with Nick that you need to find a co-founder who believes in your product or rather have expertise in the domain (which helps in finding niche and remain engaged). It's good to get someone who has a mix of - previous startup experience, marketing/growth hacking, fund raising, attracting other talents to fill the gap.
Karen Leventhal
5
0
Karen Leventhal Entrepreneur
Founder & CEO at SE Rising
I agree with Bill. Start with your evangelist to see if you have a market and how fast you can get traction. If you do grow, then you'll need a more experienced operation and finance people. But without customers all the other functions are largely wishful thinking.
Bill Kelley
2
0
Bill Kelley Entrepreneur • Advisor
Business Mentor
Thanks, Karen - to the OP: a further point that I didn't mention is that operations can come in a bit late in the team build because the financial structure and administration can [to a degree] be handled retroactively. Be sure you have a viable business first!
Chris Carruth
0
0
Chris Carruth Advisor
VP/Director. Strategy | Business Development | Operations | Product | Solutions
Having experienced the very situation my two cents...

a) Get someone who has a very solid background in assessing how viable your product is. Not just in terms of pulling together "normative statistics" but in terms of finding ways to validate how beautiful, or how ugly, your "baby" is from a profitability side. For example, building a user base is great but unless you can monetize it or the app itself no amount of "greatness" will keep your baby alive.

b) Listen to what he/she says - there is a reason for their assessment, good or bad, and the reason you had he/she involved is because they are more knowledgeable and more "unbiased" than you are. If the assessment is less than what you want/desire work to improve the weak points and to plug the gaps.

c) If viability is great, then bring in an operations guy. You may find someone that has both marketing and operations expertise, which would be great, no?

d) Re control, realize that the typical founder/CEO, at some point, does not stay CEO. Also understand that the typical equity by a founder, at exit, is often less than 10% (yes, Mark Zuckerberg supposedly still owns 20+% of FB but not typical). Scale is not something founders are typically good at. This may be considered blasphemy to think a founder may not stay the big kahuna but owning 10% of a $300M company at exit is better than 90% of a company worth $0...
Pierce Wetter
2
0
Pierce Wetter Entrepreneur
Front End Principal at Skyport Systems
The idea that if you build a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your door is a myth.

The world will follow the big sign that says "Better Mousetrap this way".

I've been in startups with good tech people, I've been in startups with good tech and good business people.

My next startup has to have good marketing too. And good design...

Some book suggestions: Read Business Model Development and Value Proposition Design. As a tech person you'll appreciate the divide-and-conquer approach to thinking about the business and how it works. The first book will help you talk to the business people. The second book will help you think about the marketing.

I won't repeat what others have said about keeping 51% unless you can self-fund. I will give you the tip that all founders, including you, should be on a vesting schedule. There are relatively standard sets of percentages that you should pre-reserve for investors, founder stock, employee stock options, etc.
Leo Lam, PhD
1
0
Leo Lam, PhD Advisor
Product development executive, serial entrepreneur and Angel Investor
I agree with Bill's posts above. You need to get an evangelist first. Operations people can come later, and, indeed, can be done retroactively.

I would add that besides the evangelist, you should look for advisors and mentors who would be willing to scrutinize your service/product, and offer you constructive criticism. Granted, opinions are opinions, but you will be able to hear how others perceive your product/service and begin to see if there are holes in your thinking. From my experience, there always are, and I have learned tremendously from other people's input.

As for compensation, I generally recommend using the Slicing Pie model as a basis, and put everyone on a vesting schedule; but there are also many other posts on this issue (just do a quick search).

Best wishes on your new adventure.
Karl Schulmeisters
3
0
Karl Schulmeisters Entrepreneur
CTO ClearRoadmap

First - your co-founder needs to be someone you TRUST. Because it sounds like you are going to be handing off money management and expense management to them. And that requires lots of trust.

Second - they have to believe in YOUR vision. Doesn't mean they have to agree with every detail, but if you are handing off "marketing" then in many ways you are also handing off the specification of the features and functionality of the product. After all, HOW it works and WHAT It does are large parts of marketing. So you need someone who buys YOUR vision and not theirs

Thirdly - you need someone with a track record. Because otherwise that trust issue is going to be that much harder to deal with when you are in the hole up to your waist in mud and digging furiously.

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