Why it’s insanely hard to find a technical co-founder (and what you can do about it)

By 200Apps
On 29 Dec., 2015

You’ve got a great startup idea. Now all you need is to partner someone with the technical know-how to make it a reality.

Why it’s insanely hard to find a technical co-founder (and what you can do about it)

by Dan Bystritsky - CEO, 200apps.

on October 15, 2015

You’ve got a great startup idea.

Now all you need is to partner someone with the technical know-how to make it a reality.

You’re not greedy, either. You’re willing to evenly split the millions you will undoubtedly make when you sell your company to Google/Facebook/Microsoft.

Reality check: finding that technical co-founder is extremely difficult to do.

Here’s why: People who can actually code well can easily get a secure, high paying job.

Instead, you are asking them to get paid little or nothing while they engage in the risky process of creating a startup – most startups fail, and many of those are based on a sound idea that seemed great in theory.

It’s time to wake up

Every so often, a developer network on Facebook or LinkedIn gets infiltrated by a would-be startup founder who posts about his “revolutionary new idea in the field of social networks”. This person is “willing” to share his idea with someone for a share in his company.

The response to these types of inquires can be quite harsh. But the reality is similarly unforgiving: there are thousands of people like you with their own great ideas, who are all sure that they’ve thought of a winner.

Worse, there really is a lot of randomness when it comes to startup success. Ideas that really are revolutionary can fail, and obscure and surprising ideas can take off.

Take AirBnB. Who would have thought that one of the most famous and successful startups would be based around plopping an air mattress in your house and renting it out to strangers? And on the flipside there’s MySpace, which was serving a useful function, had millions of users, and still lost to Facebook in a spectacular way.

This added layer of randomness further reduces the chances of a developer joining you as a co-founder even if your idea really is a good one.

You may have more success in convincing a technical co-founder to join you as a partner if:

  1. You are a celebrity who can achieve guaranteed publicity
  2. You have previous experience creating successful startups
  3. You have actually raised a lot of money
  4. You are exceptionally good looking

But barring that, the odds are very much against you.

So now what?

Does the very slim chance of ever finding a technical co-founder mean you should crumple up your plans, roll up in a fetal position, and cry?

No!

There is still hope: you can hire someone. Hiring someone means that you take all the risk (and potential reward) inherent in a startup completely upon yourself. It requires you to have some funding at your disposal, so you can actually pay your developers for the work they do.

But don’t just go ahead and hire the cheapest freelancer you can find. As Iexplained previously, you must hire someone who you actually feel is a partner in your success.

You need someone who, to use a Hebrew term, is “Rosh Gadol”, someone who will expand their thinking beyond the next task to your ideas a whole. Someone who will have your best interests in mind, someone who will push back when they feel you are making a mistake, and who will provide suggestions for improvement that you didn’t even think of.

So when you search for a developer, try to find someone who can become your CTO. Not as a co-founder, who shares your risk, but as an employee who is passionate about your cause and will work closely with you until you make your millions by selling to Google / Facebook / Microsoft. At which point, you’ll be able to keep all the money for yourself.

If you have any questions about developing your app or hiring a freelancer, feel free to email us at dan@200apps.co or tweet to @200appsltd.