I am a well-recognized expert in a field. Over several years I have built a very solid rolodex and worked with several prospective customers to outline a commercial SaaS product. When time came to deliver I did not want to seek outside funding, so instead searched for a technical co-founder to execute. I ran a wide search and found one that seemed to fit the mold: previous experience as a founder, worked at name brand bay area software companies, experience in big data, etc.
We ran a trial period, got along well, and agreed on a 3-month period where he would phase out his full-time role at his current employer before he jumped in with both feet. During that ramp up he would commit part-time engineering to build the product.
He started part-time work in February with a jump date of June. As someone with famaliarity to coding (I build front end perfectly fine), I expected the product to take a full-time, full-stack engineer 6-8 weeks to complete. I verified scope and timelines with full-stack friends at Facebook, Google, et. al. Given a part-time effort I doubled the expected timelines.
In June, we had customers waiting for the product and it had not yet been completed. Further, he pushed back his start date until July. Once he left his job – though to be honest I have no real way of verifying this since we work remotely – he took a week off for his bachelor’s party.
Delays continued, and we kept having to cancel orders to customers. Despite the set backs that, at least to me, fall squarely on his shoulders, he takes a 3-week honeymoon and has not corresponded at all during the first five days away.
It is now nearly November. He’s had 5 months of part-time work and at least 3 months of full-time work. There are a couple scenarios running through my mind
1) The guy is legitimately crazy, even though his peers vouched for his abilities
2) He hasn’t actually quit his job and that explains missing deliveries
3) I’m crazy for letting this happen this long
I’ve been advised by VC friends that the best approach is to bring in a neutral third party, let them hear from both of us, and basically make this engineer confront the facts.
I’d be grateful for any constructive feedback, including running this process and if my position is unwarranted: have I lost it or is his behavior totally unfit for a startup?