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When searching for a technical co-founder, what are important things to ask and look for?

I am starting to market test my idea, if all goes well I will begin building my MVP. My idea is high tech. It's been suggested to me that I should employ a technical co-founder. Where do I find these type of people and what should be on my list of necessary requirements of a tech co-founder?

10 Replies

Jesse Pliner
2
0
Jesse Pliner Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO @ Prong
One thing I would do is hop on Linkedin and try to connect with someone who has worked at/founded a company that does something similar and pick their brain about who they hired. You can also map a company's hiring progress through Linkedin and see who their first hires were and check out the profiles to see what their skills and experience are of the initial people they brought on. This could give you direction into the profile of the technical co-founder and/or if maybe there is another skill set you should be considering.
Thomas J. Kaled
1
0
Thomas J. Kaled Advisor
Business Development Consultant @ thomas.kaled@gmail.com
Hello Allison,

You might want to search the database in this forum as there are many related questions to your own with a plethora of answers and experts among these are:

http://members.founderdating.com/discuss/4755/I-have-found-a-potential-co-founder-Now-what

http://members.founderdating.com/discuss/4712/How-to-introduce-and-bring-in-co-founder-s-into-my-startup

http://members.founderdating.com/discuss/5169/How-to-find-an-accomplished-entrepreneur-to-join-tech-co-founder-s-prespective

http://members.founderdating.com/discuss/637/Salaries-for-Technical-Co-Founders-When-to-Pay-and-How-Much

@AllisonSkwarek if you type <technical co-founder> into the FD search engine no less than 100 forum discussions that address your topic.

Malcolm Mead
1
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Malcolm Mead Advisor
CEO of ColoCenters, Inc. - Data Center Provider, and The Mead Group, Inc. - Enterprise Solutions Architect
Alison,

Finding people who can speak towards tech is pretty trivial, and well within your wheelhouse - it's a relational thing.

The broader question is determining which one(s) are the right match for you and your vision.

Here are some steps you can take to filter down to a better set of matches:

The first path is to find "Subject Experts" - these are individuals who have had experience in augmented reality, UI/UX, and the other subtler tech details that make your approach unique. Using this path will help you avoid talking to experts in plumbing about your vision in electrical work. Just good common sense.

Once you've begun to find the general community in your area of focus (a good starting place is StackExchange, btw), then you'll want to hone that in even further. From there, what you're looking for are people who can reflect your vision back to you as accurately or MORE accurately than you can state it yourself.

So, for example, if you were considering a change to the Model-T car back in the early turn of the century, and you had a vision of using a steering wheel instead of a steering stick, then you'd be looking for people who not only say "yes, I like your idea of a wheel" -- but are able to say things like "what I hear you saying is that not only is a stick less intuitive, it actually might have dangers -- since you have to do more thought translation to use it ... oh, and here's a new point you may not have thought about - sticks break more easily than wheels!" In other words, thinkers who GET your idea, can tell you about it, and might even add to it.

Finally, of that specialized group (which may be as small as a handful of people, or even just one) -- you need to pick the people who energize you; standard relational stuff. You can't get into a working "co-founder" relationship with someone who is socially painful, aggressive, or otherwise a drain on your enthusiasm. When you're starting up - sometimes the only thing that makes you move forward is enthusiasm -- and a lumper who bums you out is worse than nobody at all.

------------------------

Having said all that - I'll make two other unsolicited comments:

1 - you will run into THOUSANDS of "technicians" who believe their job in life is to tell you why something won't work. It's a byproduct of the industry and you shouldn't take it personally. When a tech looks at a new idea, we are usually arriving to solve a problem - so we become trained to call out the problems first so we can fix them.

Well, if you present your new idea, MANY people will just naturally point out its flaws, because we're like that. The best response to most "flaw bashing" is "yes, I've heard that one, I think we have some solutions for it" and then move on. Some people will be bashing because they think it makes them seem smarter - avoid those people, they're a drain ... but the rest will likely say "oh good, well if you can fix that, I think you have a good idea!" Those people are worth continued connection.

and...

2 - Meditate on WHY you're being told to find a Tech co-founder. Who is suggesting this to you? Is it people who are rooting for you, or people who are just politely trying to tell you that you don't know enough tech to do this idea, and before you quit your day job, you should find a tech?

If it's the latter - so what! MANY great ideas have gone forward because a "common user" recognized a need and a tech stepped in to make it happen ... don't be discouraged.

If it's the former - then you're all set! Carry on, and find that nerd who can speak to you in terms that make you feel better about your idea, yourself, and your future!
Joe Albano, PhD
1
1
Joe Albano, PhD Advisor
Using the business of entrepreneurialism to turn ideas into products and products into sustainable businesses.
The question of finding appropriate cofounders seems to be gaining popularity here and in the entrepreneurial community in general. I spend a significant portion of my time building and tuning teams to start new ventures from brand-new startups to new divisions in large companies. Here is a bit of what I've learned:
  • It's important to think in terms of the complete package of capabilities needed to get the venture off the ground. It's tempting to think "I have the idea and I need a technical implementer" but who will raise funds with investors (if neither of you has ever done it you need someone)? Who will build the relationships with manufacturers or distributors? There are a lot of moving parts and pieces - do you have all of them covered?

  • Once you have a team, how will you make decisions. It's tempting to think that everyone will be involved in every decision - but that gets way too slow very quickly ... governance is important before you think it's going to be.

  • How will rewards be distributed. We have a process that we call the "while we're still friends conversation" and a big part of it is rewards. We like to remind people that it's much easier to have thewhile we're still friends conversation,while we're still friends.

  • What will you do WHENthings fly off the rails. They will. Successful startups rarely do exactly what they set out to - but they do know how to adjust when things don't go to plan. It's another big component of thewhile we're still friends conversation.
It's also important to budget time and money to selecting and building the team. Everyone thinks they can do it without a professional facilitator. After years of cleaning up the messes left when partnerships go bad I have a new respect and understanding of startup failure rates.

Rohit kumar
0
0
Rohit kumar Entrepreneur
Business and Technology Consultant : Helping Business Thrive
In my perspective, visit a startup community space in your city, where you can meet a lot of young teams. May be if you interact with them, you will get an edge of whom you want and how to look for.
Robert Nachman
0
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Robert Nachman Entrepreneur
Founder & President at Length Width Height
Jesse:
How do you map a company's hiring process through linkedin?


Jesse Pliner
0
0
Jesse Pliner Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO @ Prong
Search a company's current and past employees and create a hiring schedule based on the dates they have listed as having worked. Will give you insight into how they hired, who they hired, when they hired and insight into their overall business plan.
Alison Skwarek
0
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Alison Skwarek Entrepreneur
Innovative | Performance Driven | With a broad education
Thanks everyone for your imparting your knowledge!
Hoofar Pourzand
0
0
Hoofar Pourzand Entrepreneur
Owner, Lotus Industries and Consulting Group
First be honest: show them what you need and make sure it is clear to them. Expect to meet in between when negotiating a deal. Many idea-folks I have met believe they should have 80 percent of company and have all the voting shares. No problem with that but when the tech-cofounder has the same mentality and they both start the work imagine the outcome when the stress builds up or when they run out of money or the tech is not good enough. It would be bad. Where to look for: list on AngelList or build a small MVP along with a present tech developer and learn the tech challenges. The goal here for you is to get practicality in the terms of time, price and quality. Be glad to talk to you more, GL, Hoofar
Eran Yasso
2
0
Eran Yasso Entrepreneur
Solution Architect at Essence Group
Hello Alison,

I recommend usinghttps://www.cofounderslab.com/. You can find there any type of co-founders.
For developer you should look for the followings:
1. He is experienced in the field you want your product. For example, having co-founder dev experienced with Javascript asking him to build real-time system is not a good idea.
2. He is experienced with other development technology. In some cases, you start developing and than the product requires to develop features which are not native to the type of product you want. For example, if you are looking for dev guy to develop a web page, it will be good if he has experience in communication protocols, if the product requires different comm protocol than the standard (bad example :) )
3. Ability to work alone - having freelancer as co-founder is very good. This mean that he is used to develop software alone and in case new tech is needed he will be able to develop it without needing another dev.

That are some of the most important requirements from a software developer. When I interview developers to my team, these are the basic abilities i am looking, except for the obvious: team-player, committed, decent, reliable...

These are my two cents.
Hope it helped you.
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