How to Bag a Technical Co-Founder

June 19, 2011


Are you a business guy with a startup idea who needs a technical co-founder? Could you revolutionize industry with your product if only somebody would agree to write the code? Tired of having conversations with potential CTOs that lead nowhere?

Here’s the trick: Start building something.

It’s no secret that good software engineering talent is in huge demand right now. That’s why you get a lackluster response when you pitch your world-changing idea. It’s the third world-changing pitch we’ve heard since breakfast.

The simplest way to break through is to start building something. This plays on two traits baked into the engineering mindset:

  1. Software developers don’t put much value on words. Code either works, or it doesn’t. Tangible progress makes us happy and excited. Too many words without tangible progress makes us suspicious.

  2. The majority of good software developers have an unnatural compulsion to create order out of disorder. If you start building something, we’ll probably disagree with your approach, which means that we’ll be dying to fix it.

When I say build something, I don’t necessarily mean that you should learn to code. There are 5 parts to every business. Only one of those 5 parts is about producing the product. There are many other things to do.

You can interview potential customers and draft up descriptions of the different user personas. You can analyze the competition and decide which features you want to copy, which features you want to change, and which features you want to drop. You can start mocking up the application using tools like Balsamiq, iMockup, Keynote Kung Fu, or Mockingbird. Hell, you can even draw mockups on a whiteboard and take pictures. You can find advisors who are experts in the field.

Start doing these things, and I guarantee that the next potential technical co-founder you pitch will be ready to join you in changing the world.

Use this information for good, not evil.

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