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How to find a technical co-founder

Posted on 10/24/2022, 12:23:06 PM

You have an excellent idea for an app, but you are having trouble turning the concept into a reality because you do not have the technical expertise. Many no-technical founders struggle to find good developers to help them build their startups. Here are some ways you can make the process of finding a good technical co-founder easier.

What is a technical co-founder?

A technical co-founder has the technical abilities to build your app and scale your technical team. They usually receive equity instead of salary to do the work. They might help you pitch the idea to investors. They have years of specialized experience at other startups or larger corporations. They will help you build the product in the early days and help you scale the team by finding other talented developers to join. 

A technical co-founder is deeply invested in the company, owns founder-level responsibility, and takes part in setting the overall vision. 

An excellent way to find a technical co-founder is to hire the person and get acquainted with them. After months of getting to know each other, you can form a partnership. Either way, when you partner with a technical co-founder, give them stock that vests on a schedule so that your company is protected if they leave.

Why do I need a technical co-founder?

Hiring a developer is expensive. Though you can go far with no-code strategies because many tools let you build sites with zero technical knowledge, you might still need a technical co-founder. A technical co-founder accepts equity for his work, so you don't have to pay a salary. A technical co-founder with solid communication skills will help you find investors, especially if your idea requires someone with strong technical expertise. They will help you hire and organize a development team, shape the tech strategy for the company, and build the MVP. 

You could hire freelancers to do the job, but managing freelancers and agencies takes time, and they are not necessarily passionate about your project. 

How much equity should I give?

According to studies, for 71% of companies, two founders owned 15% of the company. Mark Zuckerberg owned 21% of Facebook at its IPO. Sergey Bin and Larry Page owned 31% of Google at its IPO. The amount of equity will depend on what the technical co-founder brings. If you want a good idea on the amount of equity to give to the technical co-founder, read this article about the Founder's Pie Calculator.

Developers make a lot of money. A good developer can make at least $200,000. Why would they risk a high-paying job to join your startup? It's hard to find a good developer because they get paid a lot. They are usually less risk-loving. 

Only 0.33% of people become entrepreneurs each year. There are fewer risk-takers among developers. You are less likely to find developers who want to be entrepreneurs. 

To convince a developer to join your team, you should understand their motivation. What do they want, and what is important to them? Developers care about cultural fit, personal growth, equity, and values. They are generally not looking to make millions. 

What to look for when finding a technical co-founder?

When looking for a technical co-founder, you should look for the following: 

  1. What is the willingness to take equity? You want people who are willing to work hard without having a salary for a few months or a year.
  2. What previous experience do they have? Having spotty work experience is a warning sign. You want committed people, so if they spent less than one year at a previous job, you should ask them why.
  3. You want people who are excited and passionate about the idea. Are they excited about the idea? Having a technical co-founder is like having a family member. They will have to work with you for long hours a day. They should be dedicated and passionate about the idea.
  4. No ego - If the developer is an asshole, walk away. It doesn't matter how good he is; you will work with him for 12+ hour days. You want someone with a good, laid-back personality.
  5. Great communication skills - The technical co-founder will likely help you pitch the idea to investors and scale the team. They need to have satisfactory communication skills. 
  6. Good culture fit - Do they fit well with the team?
  7. Strong technical skills - They should have excellent technical skills. They should have references that you can reach out to who will sing their praises.
  8. Are they strong team players? You want co-founders who work well as part of a team. 
  9. You want someone with solid business and technical skills. Do they have good business sense? Having someone who is only focused on the technical side is not a technical co-founder but more like a programmer.

How to pitch to developers?

Why would a developer leave a high-paying job to join your startup? It might be that this startup is suitable for their resume. Maybe they will be working on a new tech stack they are interested in studying. Perhaps this product is beneficial to the world and positively impacts people. Maybe the developer likes the idea so much to leave his job. Give them a good reason to leave their high-paying job for uncertainty.

When pitching to developers, consider the following:

  • What evidence is there that the future product will be in demand?
  • How will you promote the product?
  • What is the unit economics of the product?
  • Where is the money in this?
  • What minimum effort do you need to invest in getting the result in the near future?
  • Where can we find investments?
  • Where will we look for clients?
  • What are our competitive advantages?

If you do not have answers to these questions, taking marketing and sales course might be a good idea. 

You want to show the developer that there will be minimum technical effort required on their part and that most of the uncertainties have been addressed. You want to show that you have validated the idea and that people are willing to pay. 

Here's an example of a good pitch:

I am launching an app that will make it easy for non-designers to create designs online. I have already pitched the idea to investors who are interested in investing as long as I bring a technical co-founder on board. I need a good developer to implement a simple technical prototype. We can open a new market for $20 billion if the prototype is successful.

Where to look for developers

You can find developers by using the following resources

  • Hackatons - Developers participate in hackatons where they create technical prototypes in a short time
  • Hacker Rank/Coder Ranks - These website score developers and builds a community around them. Reach out to high-ranking developers.
  • Meetups and conferences - There are plenty of meetups for developers that you might be interested in joining.
  • Outstaffing websites - Companies like smartbrain.io employ the best developers
  • Github - Developers post their code on GitHub for others to see. 
  • YCombinator startup school - YCombinator has a service that allows you to find a co-founder.
  • Networking - Reach out to people you know and see if they know developers who might be interested in being technical co-founders.
  • Cofounderslab - Let's you contact 400,000 entrepreneurs from more than 140+ countries. 
  • Founders Nation - Founders and partners can browse through each other's profiles 
  • AngelList - Attracts job seekers looking to join a startup. 
  • Incubators or accelerators are useful to find like-minded people and raising money.

How to find a startup mentor

Finding a technical co-founder will help you take your idea to the next level. If you need advice on how to find a technical co-founder, you can book a call with a startup mentor on our platform. Here are some good mentors who can help:

Clemens started several successful tech companies and raised over 40 million dollars from top venture capital firms. He graduated from Harvard Business School and Yale

Book a call with Clemens

Rachel is a YC almn who sold her company. She is the CEO/Co-founder of Dropprint Genomics

Book a call with Rachel

Zohar brings together a deep understanding of the law, an intuitive grasp of how software can reshape the business to bring competitive advantages, and his lifelong love of music. A true founder, Zohar has a reputation for multidisciplinary competency and delivering value with integrity. Since founding SKIO 8 years ago, Zohar has built teams that take products from zero to one and have grown a marketplace platform and user community. He has led and worked with his teams to execute fundraising, hiring, business strategy, corporate and legal strategy, operations and administration, product strategy and direction, and strategic partnerships.

Book a call with Zohar

Itay is a serial entrepreneur who built a business from day 1 with an initial team of 3 to managing a 300-person workforce.

He is a Y Combinator alumni (W15). He raised money from VCs and angel investors. He acquired a few companies as well as merged a previous company.

Book a call with Itay

We have over 160 mentors from top companies and startups to choose from. To book a call with a business mentor, click here


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