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What do non-technical cofounders look for, before joining existing products?

What do non-technical cofounders look for, before joining existing products made by tech related founders?

Is joining an existing product attractive at all?
If so, at which stage of the product? (Except for stages attractive enough for investors to call you)

Please forgive me for generalizing all non technical professionals as 'non-tech'. I am a tech guy and quite clueless in the other relevant professions in the startup world.

15 Replies

Eoin Matthews
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Eoin Matthews Entrepreneur
Cofounder at Point
the best opportunities i've missed are where i've undervalued (or misunderstood) the market insights of a tech founder.this is not in order of priority:

a) the tech founder would be a customer for this new product
b) the founder can enumerate instances when she needed this product in past professional lives or where she built strawman versions to solve problems that she had
c) other developers/engineers want to work on the product (without pay) -- they would be customers for the product too
d) preferably, it's a product for a technical buyer (not required but this is a good signal)
e) the current team can deliver the product on a known schedule - i.e. there are no technology unknowns (if it's a product that requires real r&d, i'd really question whether they need me now)
f) i now understand the market and there's a (not completely improbable) version of reality where i can contribute to the product being successful
g) i want to work with these folks and they want to work with me

Jonathan Poston
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Jonathan Poston Entrepreneur
Yiveo.com | Medical Marketing Agency

1) A product they personally stand behind, and are passionate about.
2) One that has great market / growth potential.

Joining an existing start-up is very attractive to non-techs, assuming they prefer the marketing / growth phase vs. product development. In that case, it's best to really understand the motivation to prevent future clashes.
Eyal Feingersch
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Eyal Feingersch Entrepreneur
Software Engineer
Isn't estimating market potential the job of the non-tech cofounder? How do tech guys supposed to convince them?

Maybe portfolio presentation targeting cofounders instead of investors?
Eoin Matthews
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Eoin Matthews Entrepreneur
Cofounder at Point
"Isn't estimating market potential the job of the non-tech cofounder?"
No -- every smart person to join the business will do this for themselves.
Jonathan Poston
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Jonathan Poston Entrepreneur
Yiveo.com | Medical Marketing Agency
Eoin, sure, traditionally, estimating market potential would be done by the marketing people...but I can't tell you how often I've seen marketing and product development lines blur.

Marketers spot trends, and hatch ideas about what products should be built, so marketing and development naturally overlap..the question though is how "product development" driven is the non-tech co-founder...do they see themselves doing more than influencing product with market research to make it more sellable? There are some tech company cultures built with a sales driven philosophy, not tech driven.
Eyal Feingersch
0
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Eyal Feingersch Entrepreneur
Software Engineer
So the non tech cofounder needs to be convinced of team quality, obligation and ability to deliver, and also estimate market potential, pretty much like an investor.

But in relation to this site,
How do you determine who is eligible to attempt initial contact from the selection in this site?
What kind of details you want to see in the tech founder's profile? (assuming you were trying to find and join a tech founder with an existing product at early stage).


Eoin Matthews
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Eoin Matthews Entrepreneur
Cofounder at Point
"How do you determine who is eligible to attempt initial contact from the selection in this site?"

@eyal -- in relation to FD, don't overthink it. Plan to have lots of conversations. Reach out to LOTS of people that you find interesting.
Eyal Feingersch
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Eyal Feingersch Entrepreneur
Software Engineer
Thanks for the input, Eoin and Jonathan.
I have no further questions :)
Lonnie Sciambi
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Lonnie Sciambi Advisor
"The Entrepreneur's Yoda"- inspiring, guiding entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams - CEO Mentor/Advisor, Author/Speaker
You made an interesting point about a nontech cofounder needing to be treated "pretty much like an investor." No, exactly like an investor, because if they are going to become a cofounder that what they are. Maybe investing time vs. dollars, but nvesting. nonetheless.

Now some further guidance for you. Not just for this endeavor but future ones. If you as the product designer/developer don't have a sense of the market, its potential, etc., what you might have is just a "cool product" - sort of like being all dressed up with no place to go. This is something important for tech folks to learn. You NEED to understand the market and its potential, knowing what problem your solving, what need you are addressing and who else is out there, almost before you ever write a line of code or put a CAD design together. It's not hard to do and if and when you are ready for the nontech cofounder who will help you drive the business, the impression you will make on that individual, that you "thought about it ahead of time" will be palpable. Plus, you'll get a better cofounder. I've seen it time and time again.

Good luck, Eyal!
Eyal Feingersch
0
0
Eyal Feingersch Entrepreneur
Software Engineer
Thanks, Lonnie, you pretty much nailed it.
When techies like me start running alone, we are probably going to remain like that, unless we have a significant progress with the client base or an investment (and who wants to add a cofounder at that stage?).
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