9.04.2018

How To Attract the Right Technical Co-Founder For Your Start-Up

Article by
Marta Brzosko
4 min read

A skilled technical co-founder is invaluable if you want to build your digital product efficiently. Yet, many talented entrepreneurs with great ideas struggle to find a technically-oriented partner to work with. As a consequence, start-ups often stagnate for months before they manage to find the right CTO who lifts the idea off the ground.

Does this story sound familiar? If you, too, are wondering how to attract the right technical co-founder for your start-up, keep on reading. We have a few tips to share.

Why is it so challenging to find a technical co-founder?

Good software engineers are in a convenient position today, work-wise.

According to the survey carried out by Stack Overflow, only 13.1% of developers were actively looking for a job in 2017. Most good tech specialists are hunted for, rather than having to apply for posts. A big part of them is also offered up to 6-figure salaries at companies like Facebook or Google. Such offers are, quite understandably, hard to resist.

This only leaves a handful of open-for-business savvy engineers who could potentially be interested in joining your start-up. However, many of them wouldn’t care too much about your pitch, since they likely “have their own ideas, aren’t sure they need you, and have heard enough cliche pitches to ignore you by default.” 

A developer who is highly-skilled, engaged and up for a challenge at the same time is becoming increasingly difficult to find.

But do I really need a technical co-founder in my start-up?

Good question. Even the smartest people in the industry are not clear on this one.

Mark Suster says: “if you don’t have somebody inside your organization who is setting the technology direction then I’m convinced you’ll never head for greatness.”

At the same time, the TechCrunch crew encourages first-time founders to “stop looking for a technical co-founder” and “focus on building your company instead”.

So yeah… there are no easy answers to the headline question.

What we can say from our own experience of working with start-ups, is that having a technical co-founder on board certainly helps you attract investors. When pitching your business idea it gives a very good impression if you are able to foresee how your product will iterate in the future. And such prediction is usually within the scope of work of the technical co-founder.

Of course, there are more advantages of having a CTO on board, other than just impressing the investors. Among the most important ones is that you have a partner to work with, someone who brings their unique perspective to the business. What is more, their technical expertise allows for a more realistic approach and thinking in terms of graspable technical solutions, rather than abstract ideas.

Having said this, we believe that attracting the right technical co-founder to your start-up becomes way easier (and makes more sense!) once you have a solid base to springboard from. This base generally includes a well-described business idea, initial feedback, and research of your competition. Ideally, you would also have an MVP, or at least a simple mock-up of your product before you start approaching potential CTOs.

Technical co-founder becomes a must at some stage of your start-up’s growth. To reach that stage, consider hiring an agile development agency which will help you concretize your idea and design wireframes or mock-ups to illustrate it.

How to attract a technical co-founder: practical tips

Ready to set off on the quest of finding your perfect technical co-founder? Ideamotive’s CEO Robert has some tips to share with you. They are based on years of experience of working for start-ups, as well as mentoring them.

Attract them by what you are doing

 
As a start-up, you probably cannot offer a salary or other benefits that could compete with those available at big corporations. But you have a way more valuable asset, which is your idea. When talking to your potential CTO, picture all the exciting challenges that you would be solving together while building your business. Hint: the most luring buzzwords of 2018 are AR, AI and Blockchain.

Speak their language

 
If you are trying to attract someone with a technical background to your idea – don’t play on their emotions. Developers don’t buy into emotion-based rhetoric and they prefer to use the language of logic, which allows them to better understand the practical requirements of the project. Keep in mind that, at the end of the day, they will simply assert all your statements as true or false. 😉

Meet them at events

 
If you don’t know where to start your search for a perfect technical co-founder, look into start-up events. You will find them in every big city, and they are usually a perfect occasion to meet people from all over the tech industry. This is also where you can find the rare developers who are both high-skilled and looking for something more challenging than work in an established corporation. Offer them the exciting challenge of joining your start-up!

Look for a person to work with, rather than a machine to perform

 
Every person likes to be approached individually and recognized for their unique qualities. Software developers are no different. If you want to find a technical co-founder, you are primarily looking for a person to collaborate with – and only secondarily for the skills, they possess. Show them that you trust them. Don’t make them sign an NDA first thing after having met each other. Approach them as a partner, ask for advice, and let your relationship unfold organically.

Take the first step to grow your start-up

Have you found the perfect technical co-founder to build your start-up with you? Not yet? There’s nothing to be anxious about. There are many different ways to lift your business idea off the ground. It might just be that your CTO will step in a little bit further down the road.

To get a fresh perspective on how a start-up may evolve without a CTO, you can read this inspiring story by Alex Turnbull. He reports on how he pushed through with founding Groove when he couldn’t find a technical co-founder. The solution he came up with was as simple as… working with an agile development agency.

An agency can help you on various stages of your start-up’s development. Sometimes all you need is a well-designed mock-up to help you pitch investors or a potential technical co-founder. Other times, the specifics of your product might be just easier and faster to determine by an experienced team of software developers.

Ideamotive has vast experience of working with start-ups – both the ones with and without technical co-founders. We know how to communicate complex software ideas and ensure that we are on the same page with our clients, even if they don’t have any software development background.

If you want to finally move things forward and lift your start-up idea off the ground, contact us to arrange a free Discovery Call. Let’s see what we can create together.


Marta Brzosko


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