Written by Irina Belsky
There’s nothing more frustrating than having an amazing idea and no way to bring it to life. This is the predicament many non technical entrepreneurs face after the first high of inspiration fades away. The truth is, many entrepreneurs don’t have the technical skills to build the website, app or functionalities to turn their idea into a business. In the tech startup space, a tech co-founder is really like the engine of a car - a crucial necessity.
So how do entrepreneurs with little money or resources find the right technical co-founder?
Who is the right co-founder?
Dedication and Trust: The right co-founder has to believe in your idea. Enough to want to work on it. Not enough to want to take it away from you. In other words they have to trust you. They have to know that you can take the idea and make it into a successful business and that no one else (including them) can do it better.
Co-founder ‘chemistry’: You should get along with your co-founder. During the early startup stage you can’t afford to bicker over small things or tip toe around each other, especially if you have other work commitments. Most startups require a lot of collaborative work and you should always keep that in mind when you’re deciding whether somebody is the right match for you and your idea.
Skill shortage: The world of web design and development is like a labyrinth, especially if your knowledge of coding is limited/non-existent. So even when you’ve found somebody who ticks all the boxes in terms of personality, they may not have the right technical skills to build what you want. This where the non negotiables become important. If you’re hitting it off and the person’s truly excited about your idea, they may be willing to learn the necessary skills in order to bring it to life. Unlike you, they’re coming from a tech background and learning a little extra coding shouldn’t be as excruciatingly painful as starting from scratch. Alternatively they may know someone who can fill in the knowledge gap or even recommend someone more suited to the job.
Commitment: Not everyone you meet will be willing to throw away their full time work and dive into entrepreneurship. People with technical skills are in high demand, so many of them will already be working on something or for someone else. You don’t necessarily need someone to commit all of their time to your idea. As long as they are trustworthy and can dedicate a set amount of time each week to do what needs to be done, you can compromise (unless your situation means you have a very strict deadline).
The Ins and Outs of the Co-Founder Hunt
There are a number of ways you can track down a tech co-founder. In many ways, it’s like match making in the twenty first century. You begin by looking at your immediate networks- school friends, work friends, friends of friends and random acquaintances. If that doesn’t work, you get proactive.
Networking is the most obvious answer to the problem of finding a technical co-founder. By attending industry and entrepreneur specific events you can meet like-minded people and casually pitch your idea to anyone who might be interested.
A typical event goes something like this: some “casual” networking and snack nibbling is followed by talks from guest speakers, followed by more casual networking and alcohol consumption. It is at this point that you should do most of your networking. Why? Because by this point everyone would have had time to ease into the networking mood, making it easier to start a conversation.
Keep in mind that you have to approach people proactively and hand out your business cards like pamphlets on the street.
A few useful meetups:
2. Crowd Sourcing
If you’re in need of a tech co-founder ASAP, you can always ask for one. Without giving away too much of your idea, post an ad online. For all you know there are tech founders out there looking for an idea to work on, and if you present yours in the most appealing way, chances are they’ll come to you.
Here is an example of an ad for a tech founder that might be useful.
Be open to using traditional and non-traditional channels to advertise:
3. Participate in Startup weekends
A great way to meet co-founders is to participate in a startup camp. The people you’ll meet there are entrepreneurs or entrepreneur hopefuls and they tend to come from all walks of life, including the tech industry. One of the most recent startup camps was Launch48 in Sydney, which brought together participants who wanted to create and launch an online business.What better setting for co-founder match making?
4. Join Co-working spaces
If you have a trickle of steady income you may want to consider hiring out a co-working space. While this is not as straightforward as approaching someone directly, you’ll be surrounded by like minded people, doing something different. Co-working spaces such as Green Lane Digital, VibeWire and casual working events like Jelly! (just to name a few) house creative and entrepreneurial people who can help you with your search and act as your mentors.
5. Sign Up to Organisations Supporting Entrepreneurship
People are your best resource, so what’s better than joining organisations where you can tap into that resource? Organisations such as TiE Global will give you access to events, conferences, mentoring and focused networking opportunities. Most importantly they’ll make you part of a whole community of like minded people. Many of them will be technologically gifted and, yes, some will be looking for a great idea, just like yours.
Organisations supporting entrepreneurship:
Having an idea alone is not enough. You need the skills and knowledge to put it into action. If that requires bringing on a technical co-founder, then you owe it to your idea to find the right person.
If you don’t already know somebody or don’t have enough funding to hire a professional, the key is expanding your network. Get out and get involved in the entrepreneurial space, attend events, conferences and do whatever it takes to find your co-founder. But most importantly, remember to have fun doing it. After all, what’s the point of being an entrepreneur if you don’t enjoy challenges?