Finding a techie cofounder nowadays is like finding a date, they do hang out but no one knows where. The demand and supply gap is huge and with so many people willing to try their “Billion dollar App idea”, or “Give it a shot”, this is likely to grow. Before rushing to register a company, it’s important to have the right team in place.
While the pain area is known and many people are trying to address this in their own way, I wanted to share some insights based on my experience on how you as a start-up can improve your search.
You Only Love Your Idea
So, you have a billion-dollar idea, so does everyone else. Many of them do not see the light of day or die in the head of the founders.
What is the proof? What market research have you done? Are you expecting someone to join your idea and code a prototype for you so that you can test your market? Techies are not dumb after all; they have access to the same set of news/ start-up ideas that you do. If they can work on their own prototype and have 100% of the equity why should they join someone else at a minority stake?
Have You Validated Your Assumptions?
With the size and magnitude of mobile users/internet users, you can create a $10 Bn market for any business idea in the excel sheet. Everyone using WhatsApp is your target market? It has Billion+ downloads; the question is how many of them can you reach out to? Who has validated your assumptions besides you? Do you have a study to refer to? Have you even discussed your idea with someone and they found it exciting or are you in stealth mode?
Where are the funds? Is this your personal savings? You will exhaust it in building your product only, how are you planning to raise money? Of course, a techie would need convincing answers before coming on board or committing something to you.
Technical People Are Aspirational In Nature
It’s a natural phenomenon. If they are good at something, they would not like to sell cheap. Most technically strong people may already be working on their own idea or aspiring to work with Google or Facebook. Just like you are trying to piggyback on someone else to succeed with your idea, anyone with a strong technical background will be walking with multiple ideas.
You Are Not Clear About Tech Cofounder’s Role
Not all techies write code. It might seem counter-intuitive but, you need to know what you are looking for before you start searching which technology is suitable for the idea; you can do a web application in PHP, Java, Perl, Ruby on Rails, or Python. A mobile app can be built in a native framework, Andriod, IOS, or all.
At this stage, it would be great if you can engage with a mentor who can guide you in selecting the right technology.
Who Keeps The Ownership?
Are you open to give a lead role to the techie in order to get the best prototype/product? Who takes the majority stake? All major companies which you take inspiration from e.g Facebook, Google, Twitter, Quora, and WhatsApp were prototyped, designed, developed and led by techies in the initial stage and the business people joined much later to take the growth beyond organic or to make the business case.
Credentials Commitment Matter
Why are you the best person to lead this idea? What are your credentials? Many people in India use IIT IIM tags to woo techie cofounder? How much that really helps is something to be seen. Remember when starting up, your commitment is more important than the aptitude and ability to execute.
If you are expecting your techie cofounder to work full time on your idea but you want to continue with your job, it would not be a likely scenario until you pay a decent salary to him. Only if you are deeply invested in the idea, you can inspire someone to work for you.
If you both are planning to work part-time, even your rapid prototype will take 6 months to come in a shape. The majority of tech people work 60 hours a week and are paid beyond the reach of a startup. What can you do to motivate them to work on a weekend? You need to have some extraordinary inspiration to do that.
You Are Searching At The Wrong Place
Having everything above in order, your chances of getting the right tech person in Bangalore is 10 times higher as compared to Delhi. If you are hanging out at the wrong place, you will end up nowhere. Searching online also helps. The remote work culture is an emerging trend, you can explore someone from a different location. You may need to invest early in developing the remote culture.
Do You Really Need A Technical Cofounder?
Even before starting your search for a techie cofounder, you should ponder over whether you really need a technical cofounder. The answer lies in the nature of your business. If it’s a business model innovation where tech is just an enabler, it won’t excite someone who has a passion for technology. It’s better to go with some of the options I have mentioned below –
- Hire an agency that can develop your initial prototype and if you are able to validate the idea, you are more likely to get someone excited to join you in that case. There is hardly anyone who can steal your idea to develop it as their own.
- Hire a full-time developer/intern. Another option for hiring someone full time, but you need a good backup fund to pay salaries.
- Learn to code: Well, nothing can beat that if you can! It will take longer than usual but will always be an asset to you. You will be better equipped to engage with tech people later on.
- Share equity and partner with a start-up; partner with another start-up like mine which can take equity and you can work together to build your product.
- Engage with a mentor; someone with a deep understanding of the technical landscape, many successful serial entrepreneurs engage through incubators/ entrepreneurship institutions. Beware of readymade solutions!
- Find a suitable technical person from your extended network.
Who Is A Tech Cofounder (CTO)?
This should have been a starting paragraph. I come across many people with a good business idea but little understanding of technology. A working software application has many facets like UI/UX, Backend, Architecture, System Design, Database Management, Storage, DevOps, Server Management, etc. and you are extremely lucky if you can find one person who can do it all.
In my opinion, the right CTO is a techno business person with great product development experience. He/she should be able to write/debug codes when needed, but that is not the role he/she is hired for. The primary role is to take the product ahead from a prototype stage and build the foundation of a technically scalable application.