Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Top 5 Tips on How to Find a Tech CoFounder

Many entrepreneurs face the challenge to find a tech co-founder. It feels like 80% of startup founders in New York are business people with great ideas and looking for someone to build it, and developers usually have their own pet projects that they're busy coding for. It's tough to find a developer who's willing to take equity to build something, and finding the right partner to be in it for the long term is even harder. San Francisco may be easier but New York is definitely challenging.

So what do we do? Here are my top 5 tips to find a technical cofounder:

1. Go to meetups that developers actually go
– Like Ruby and Rails in New York City, The New York Python Meetup, or other meetups that sound so technical that you want to just run away from. Those are the places that real developers hang out. Not those find a CoFounder events.

2. Look for young developers. Established developers rarely want to take equity stake only or risk to work with a new startup. You have a better chance to find a college senior or recent grad who’s a tech whiz that loves to build. They may be 20 years old, but may have 5 or even 10 years of experience!

3. Use startup resources to get the word out. Tell everyone that you’re looking for a tech co-founder. Post on StartupDigest Classifieds (HelpAStartupOut.com), StartupOneStop.com, TechCofounder.com. Pitch at tech events and ask for referrals. Even if people can't think of someone right away, it may register in their minds and open dialogues.

4. Be patient. It’s tough, especially finding a technical co-founder that will share sweat and tears with you and truly believe in your vision for the next 3-5 years or longer. It’s true that it'd feel like marrying the person! We all know how hard it is to find the right partner. Keep looking. Don’t give up. Believe that someone is waiting for you, somewhere. (OK, now it starts to sound a bit cheesy...)

5. Don’t wait!
I know it sounds exactly opposite of the last point. What I want to stress is that you shouldn’t wait for the perfect cofounder to show up. If it doesn’t happen, still keep pushing forward. Learn to do wireframes and markups yourself. There are some great tools out there that don’t require coding knowledge. Hire someone to do your prototype. Maybe taking a chance on Elance and ODesk IS the right option for you. It could be crappy, but it’s better than nothing. You can take that prototype to do more customer development and improve your idea. If you get some traction, maybe the right person would be more willing to join you.

Finally, a practical tip – if you’re concerned about quality of overseas outsourced talent, get quotes from 3 of them and develop in parallel. In total you will end up paying the same amount as one U.S. resource, but you may get some interesting ideas and a good sense of how well someone works and can choose him for bigger projects that may eventually save you money.

What has been your experience finding a tech co-founder? Share your tips!

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