As an entrepreneur, I know firsthand how challenging it can be to start a tech company without a technical co-founder. When you're building a business that requires technical expertise, you need someone who can help you navigate the complexities of coding, software development, and data analysis. Being a technical cofounder myself, I have seen the story from another side a couple of times. After a lot of cofounder matching and breakups, I sort of developed a sense of what I was looking for. In this article, I will be sharing exactly that, if you really need a technical co-founder, what's the right stage to have one, how to find one, and what qualities to look for in a technical co-founder.
Do you really need a technical co-founder?
The short answer is, it depends on your business idea and your skill set. If your business idea doesn't require any technical expertise, then you may not need a technical co-founder. However, if your business idea involves building a software product, developing a mobile app, or creating a platform that requires technical skills, then having a technical co-founder is essential.
As a non-technical founder, you may be able to hire developers or outsource the technical work, but having a technical co-founder who is equally invested in the success of the company can make a huge difference. A technical co-founder can help you make informed technical decisions, build a scalable product, and attract investors who understand the value of a strong technical team.
What's the right stage to have a technical co-founder?
The right stage to have a technical co-founder is when you have a validated business idea and you're ready to build a product. It's important to have a clear understanding of what you want to build and how you want to build it before you bring on a technical co-founder.
If you bring on a technical co-founder too early, you may end up wasting time and resources building a product that doesn't solve a real problem or doesn't have a market fit. On the other hand, if you wait too long, you may miss out on valuable technical expertise that could have helped you build a better product.
A lot of exceptional founders I met, were very passionate about their projects and thought that if just they had me ( Or a technical cofounder ) all their problems will be solved. This isn't true. While it's expected for CTO to refine the idea and even come up with his own if you are not sure about what you are building. It's going to waste both of your time. Refinement can keep coming at later stages but at least a direction has to be decided.
How to find a technical co-founder
Finding a technical co-founder can be challenging, but there are a few strategies that can help you find the right person. One of the best ways to find a technical co-founder is through your personal and professional network. Reach out to your friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who have technical skills and let them know that you're looking for a technical co-founder.
You can also attend networking events, hackathons, and startup events where you can meet other entrepreneurs and technical professionals who may be interested in joining your team. Joining online communities and forums like Reddit, Hacker News, and Stack Overflow can also be a great way to connect with other technical professionals.
Where to find a technical co-founder
In addition to your personal and professional network, there are several online platforms and communities where you can find technical co-founders.
InPerson and Networking events
This is the most common way and works very well. Some of the most succefull companies cofounder met through this channel. Basically you are trying to increase the luck surface are and meat someone who he desperate as you and was willing enough to come at this event. Common platform I have come across are Meetup.org , Eventbrite, Draper Startup Events,YC founder Speed Dating chilling out at WeWork and sometime coffee shops where entrepreneur hangout.
After Covid, the co-founder of speed dating has moved online as well. And believe it or not Online platforms could give you a better chance of finding a cofounder. With this, you can test and try different relations before liking it. My favorite platform through which I met some of the best founders are Y Combinator Startup School, Wellfound, LinkedIn, This Week in Startup's Slack and more
YC Cofounder matching tool
If you are still not able to find your next business partner why not try the most sure way. Some accelerator program are focused on you as a founder not your idea or team yet. The structured approach in these program really pushes you to have maximum chances. I have done Entrepreneur First ( SG12 ) and invited to Antler and both of them were really amazing both in terms of quality most talented people and the framework they use. Of-course there are many that you can find with just a simple Google Search.
Technical Co Founder area of responsibilities
When hiring a technical co-founder, it's important to be clear about their responsibilities. Generally speaking, the technical co-founder will be responsible for developing and maintaining the product or service, as well as overseeing the technical aspects of the company. This includes designing and coding the product, managing servers, databases, and other technology infrastructure, and ensuring that everything is secure.
The technical co-founder should also be responsible for staying up to date with industry trends and technologies to ensure that the product or service is competitive. Additionally, they should provide guidance and support to other members of the team on technical matters.
Qualities to Look for in a technical co-founder
When looking for a technical co-founder, it's important to look for someone who has the right skills, experience, and personality traits. Here are some qualities to look for in a technical co-founder:
Technical Skills: Your technical co-founder should have the skills and expertise necessary to build your product. They should be familiar with software development, coding, and data analysis.
Entrepreneurial Spirit: Your technical co-founder should be just as passionate about your business idea as you are. They should be willing to take risks, work long hours, and be committed to the success of the company.
Communication Skills: Your technical co-founder should be able to communicate technical concepts in a way that non-technical team members can understand. They should be able to explain technical decisions and trade-offs to the rest of the team.
Problem-Solving Skills: Your technical co-founder should be able to identify and solve technical problems quickly and effectively. They should be able to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions to technical challenges.
Cultural Fit: Your technical co-founder should share your values and vision for the company. They should be a good fit for your company culture and be able to work well with the rest of the team.
Be aware of hustlers.
When searching for a technical co-founder, it's important to be aware of hustlers. These are people who may misrepresent their skills or experience in order to take advantage of you. Make sure to do your due diligence and verify the credentials and references of any potential co-founders before making a commitment.
How to pitch your idea to a technical co-founder
Pitching your idea to a technical co-founder can be challenging, especially if you don't have a technical background. Here are some tips to help you pitch your idea effectively:
Be Clear and Concise: Your pitch should be clear and concise. Explain what problem your product solves, who your target market is, and what makes your product unique.
Focus on the Business: While technical details are important, your pitch should focus on the business aspects of your product. Explain how your product will make money, what your marketing strategy is, and how you plan to scale your business.
Show Your Passion: Your passion for your business idea should come through in your pitch. Explain why you're passionate about your product and why you believe it will be successful.
Listen to Feedback: Be open to feedback from the technical co-founder. They may have valuable insights and ideas that can help you refine your product and make it better.
How to bring him on board? Equity or salary?
When bringing a technical co-founder on board, you should decide whether to offer them equity or salary. This could be a tricky situation as Most likely you haven't raised funds so can't offer a salary but you can't give away equity to someone who you have just met. The solution depends, if you have been doing the idea for quite a long, this means you have your skin in the game. In this situation you need to show that your are deadly serious and it's reasonable for CTO to have a minimum salary that can cover his expenses. Technical talent has a lot of opportunities and his time should be respected. Have a rational and open discussion about this. If he can manage some consulting/job / freelance on the side better but if you are going all in, don't waste time on freebies and take the bet.
If you are offering equity, make sure to be clear about the amount and type of equity they will receive. It's important to set expectations early on so that both parties understand what they are getting out of the relationship.
How much equity could be tricky, But it's a must and should be discussed. Without this motivation, most of the cofounding relationship dies and this is the number one reason for startup failure.
Cofounder equity split tool
Conclusion: Make an informed decision
Finding the right technical co-founder can be a challenging process, but it's essential if you want to build a successful tech company. By understanding what qualities to look for in a technical co-founder, where to find one, and how to pitch your idea effectively, you can increase your chances of finding the right person for your team. Remember to make an informed decision and take the time to find the right technical co-founder who shares your vision and passion for your business idea.