There’s a classic chicken-and-egg situation when it comes to finding the right technical co-founder for your startup: top-notch, experienced players are either already employed at well-paying jobs or have started their own companies and are looking for substantial compensation to join another startup. However, without the backing of venture capital or angel investors, it can be difficult to secure the funding needed to bring on a high-level technical co-founder. On the other hand, students or recent graduates who are eager to get started may lack the experience necessary to contribute effectively to a startup.
As a non-technical founder, you can take the following steps to address this challenge:
Sell, Sell, Sell!
With your non-technical skills, you’ll need to prove the worth of you and your company by taking the lead on sales and marketing. Your first sales pitch will be to your technical co-founder or CTO, so make sure you have a compelling pitch that aligns with larger goals and principles, not just the aim of making money and retiring young. Keep in mind that technical co-founders have finely tuned BS detectors, so be specific but don’t go into detail on things you don’t fully understand.
Have a Clear Path to Revenue
Your business model and validated market are key factors to demonstrate. You’ll also need to have specific deadlines for MVP development, sales, and fundraising. Technical co-founders will want to know when they’ll receive payment and how much.
Utilize Online Resources
Check out Stack Overflow or Quora and reach out to the individuals who consistently provide thoughtful answers and have high “karma.” There’s a good chance these people are skilled in their areas of expertise. Then, follow the advice above and sell your idea to them.
Attend Technology Meetups
Go to technology meetups to network and get a sense of who’s out there. Don’t immediately pitch your idea, as some attendees may be content with their current corporate jobs and not have the entrepreneurial drive you need. If you do identify someone who could be a good fit, then start selling - see above. Another option is to attend hackathons or similar events, but be prepared to encounter many recent graduates.
Once you’ve identified a potential co-founder or CTO, beyond personality and cultural fit, it can be difficult to verify their credentials. Always ask for their track record of successful projects and companies, and then have someone you trust conduct an interview.
Here are some additional resources for further exploration: