When creating a technology startup, one of the hardest parts for many non-technical founders is finding a technical co-founder. Technical co-founders can sometimes seem like unicorns, do they really exist?? Are they out there?? And where do they hide??
General Characteristics to Know About Technical People
Generally speaking, and I know these can be seen as huge over generalizations… but there are a few common traits when it comes to technically minded people.
- Many technical people are introverts. This means they’re not going to be found in many of the normal networking events where most people meet other people. They typically avoid those like the plague.
- Many of them also work from home, and will likely want to work from home when they start working with you as well.
- Many technical people are gamers. When they’re not working on their computer they shift to their gaming system.
- Many technical people are pessimists by nature. They tend to see the problems much easier than they see the opportunities.
- All technical people are engineering minded people. If you’ve never been close with someone who thinks like an engineer… you soon will see that their brain operates very differently than most. For you to say, “Make the answer to the equation ‘4’.” But what an engineer hears and starts immediately thinking is, “Do you want ‘0+4, ‘1+3’, ‘2+2’, ‘3+1’, ‘4+0’, ‘4*1’, or ‘1*4’?” and without specifying exactly what you want… it will drive them crazy.
- Many are also unhappy with their current employment. Because of their pessimism, they are usually always looking for a better opportunity. What they’re currently working on is never going to work so they’re hoping to join a different team. This is a huge internal struggle for most of them, because they also think the next team will suck just like the current team so they often don’t change teams for fear of the unknown.
So Where Do You Find a Technical Co-Founder?
As mentioned in the beginning… where’s the unicorn watering hole, right? Where do they hang out?
Using the above characteristics, you can hopefully start thinking of your own places to start looking, but here are a few worth mentioning:
- LinkedIn – Most developers do have a LinkedIn and do have the fact that they’re a developer listed on their profile.
- Meetups – Not hugely popular for many technical people, and often the “best” developers avoid meetups like the plague. But the nice part about meetups is you can find people with usually pretty decent skills but they’re also a little more social than others.
- Online Gaming – This one is hard for me since i’m not a gamer, but for those of you that are… Devs love gaming. If you play games where you talk to people online, you may work in ways to ask what people do for work. And if it pans out and you become online friends, you may be able to pull them away from wherever they’re working.
- Use a Dev Shop! – Now now… hold on. One of the rules about building a startup is to avoid using a dev shop if at all possible. Having ran a dev shop for over a decade, I agree 100% that hiring a dev shop is not the way you should be building your product. BUT… guess what. Developers really don’t like working for dev shops… so if you go and interview with a dev shop, and are lucky enough to meet one of their developers, you may be able to entice them away from the shop and bring them onto your team. It’s definitely a jerk move… but the dev shop is probably used to it.
Easy Enough to Find a Technical Co-founder, Right?
So that’s all you have to do, easy enough, right? Finding a technical co-founder is still a terribly difficult thing to do and can take many months of looking under every rock.
With looking in the right places over a long enough period of time, you can find that technical co-founder.
The next problem is vetting the developer to make sure they can build your product… but that’s a whole different post.
My one piece of advice is to make sure you can stand the person as a human… go out to lunch a few times, maybe go bowling or something to make sure you can stand being around each other. Developers can be a pain to work with, but as long as you have appropriate expectations you can end up becoming great friends.