Why is finding a technical cofounder so damn hard?

I have tried everything I possibly can and I am simply not able to. The idea is not the problem – there is a clear gap (there are competitors who are not doing it as well as they could), clear revenue potential and people I talk to see the value as well. But I either find interest from people who do not have the skills and those who are driven enough and have the skills are working on something themselves. Looks like the only tech startup any marketing-oriented guy can do is an ecommerce store.

PS: My idea needs knowledge in JS and WebRTC for what it’s worth.

  • Why do people who have the skill and ambition to build products themselves need you? Technical people start out for themselves because they don’t want to work on other people’s products anymore. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you take your offer? Probably not. Business guys with an idea are a dime a dozen. You’ve got to stand out from the pack.

    You have to demonstrate that you’re going to succeed no matter what happens. Preferably by showing a track record of success. Something like “In high school I sold $200.000 worth of second hand tires and in college I started a textbook exchange program that 80% of freshmen joined every year. Now I’m doing a real time web startup. I started last month and I’ve pitched the idea to 30 businesses, 10 of which agreed to join the pilot program.”

    A terrible pitch is “I have a great startup idea. I want to make a social network for businesses where they can exchange expertise. The competition is really bad and they charge too much, so there is a lot of revenue potential. I just need a programmer with WebRTC and JS skills to build it.”

    Selling is a large part of the CEO job. To get a good cofounder you have to sell your business and yourself. So you have to get better at sales and your vision has to inspire.

  • I have the same problem where I am able to sell my vision to VC’s and angel investors but not being able to do the same with developers.

    To understand the problem I once pitched my idea to a startup gathering and gained interest from people who came to me wanting to learn more.

    As soon as they found out that I’m not a developer they gave me cold shoulder.

    To me that is hypocritical BS since they only wanted to know if I’m a developer or not and didn’t care to find out more about me or engage in a conversation.

    Most of the time it was their first question…

    I have since stopped looking for a developer as a partner and I’m now looking to hire a firm to do the developing. At least they are more eager to listen and found them to be more responsive.

    At the end of the day I have the support from investors and to me that means a hell of a lot more than having a cofounder who cares more about track records than the idea itself.

  • I am a technical cofounder with successful ventures under me and I own two other non technical companies that I built from scratch.

    The normal reason I don’t take on projects as partner is the people who pitch ideas are just idea-people. Even the ones who own other businesses have no idea the amount of time and effort required to make a business saas product successful. They think because they thought of something that people will come if it gets built without doing any market research.

    The kicker is they think that the idea and some brainstorming constitutes an equivalent share in a company that will require hundred of hours to develop.

    So my thoughts going into the talk, if this will require 200 hours to get good and I Bill at 150/hr. Is this other person bringing in 30k of value to the table or should I work on the other projects that are willing to pay me for my time.

  • Here’s the problem. The opportunity might be promising but they don’t know you from Adam. You could be a crazy bossy unreasonable slave driver for all they know. Many coders have suffered through founders with Steve jobs complex.

    I don’t know the solution to this but here’s a suggestion. Offer to pay them for consulting to start out with then both of you can decide if it’s worth going to the altar later. You’ll find more techies will listen. You could also unofficially offer to convert that to equity but not in writing of course as it creates a shitload of issues with valuation.

  • Because a lot of non-technical people want to keep the majority of the shares for themselves regardless to the amount of work everyone puts in, just because they have an “idea”.

  • As a non-technical founder let me just say I think every non-tech idea person should try to build their first idea through contractors so they have some idea how difficult the process can be. It will fix your perception when bringing in someone to partner for equity only.

    Also, I think every technical founder should try to launch, market and organically grow an mvp to learn how difficult it is to take a project to the hands of users successfully.

    You will learn exactly what you offer and what you need in a partner.

  • I am a production and industrial engineer. Passed out in 2012. Worked in manufacturing and business development (Family business) roles untill Dec, 2014. Was a non technical cofounder in a start up till May 2015. In my current startup I manage backend Python and databases all by myself. And I plan to do it till I raise some money and then i’ll hire someone better than me. Coding isnt hard. Grit is only what it takes.

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