Find a Technical Co-Founder

Understanding Incentives

Good technical people are in high demand.  Recruiting them to join your team requires understanding their motivations.  In general, here are some motivators for potential technical co-founders:

  • Cash compensation – This is good if you are a big company, if you’re a well-funded startup (through VC, angels, friends/family, self-funding, etc), or if you are generating significant profits
  • Equity compensation – All startups have equity to give out.  The question is how valuable is your equity.  If you have traction (users, revenues, pageviews, etc) then your equity will be valuable.
  • Product area interest – If your target technical person is interested in the industry or content of your site/app/project they’ll be more interested in joining your team.  Try seeking out technical people with an interest in your product area.
  • Technical interest – If your system requires cutting-edge technology, you will attract talented people interested in this technology.

Recruiting Techniques

The most frequently asked question I get on a regular basis is from nascent tech entrepreneurs asking how to find a technical co-founder.  In general, I think there are three approaches I’ve seen people use successfully:

  1. Build it yourself (see this awesome blog post/series by Yipit co-founder Vinicius Vancati)
  2. Commission an MVP from a freelancer or agency.  Launch.  If/when you have traction, you’ll have lots of interest from developers, co-founders, investors, etc
  3. Meet potential technical co-founders where they congregate.  I’m a huge fan of meetups, and there are tons of meetups that attract developers.  You’ll need to do some research on which technologies your startup might use (eg is it a mobile app on iPhone, Android or Windows Mobile?  Will you use a CMS like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla?  Will you use a language + framework like Ruby + Rails, Python + Django, PHP + Cake/Code Igniter/Zend?).  Find out where these meetups are and attend them regularly.  Tell as many people as you can what you’re working on to increase your odds of making useful connections.

Recruiting Skills

Anatomy of a Reference Check by Tom Tunguz

Find-A-Cofounder Events

CoFoundersLab – Matchmaking for entrepreneurs, one city at a time.