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To launch and run a tech startup, you need to be looking for founders with a wide skill set and broad experience. You need someone with business development skills, and perhaps you have already filled that role. You will need someone with technical skills—this role is this article’s primary focus.So, let’s talk about launching a business with the right partner—here’s how to get a technical co-founder.
Who Is a Technical Co-Founder for a Non-Technical Founder?
A technical co-founder is your business partner who contributes equally to the company’s progress working with the non-technical co-founder. Their main role is to run the development side of your business and help build a product from scratch.
At different stages of business growth, a technical co-founder’s responsibilities may change. At earlier stages, they will handle coding, recruit the tech team, draw up the tech stack, and establish a team culture. Later on, their tasks may include scaling, keeping the tech side of the product up-to-date, and communicating business concerns to developers.
If you’re not sure whether this role fits your business, here are the main signs that you need to find a technical co-founder for a startup:
- You want to build a tech product or one that has tech-related aspects;
- You lack tech expertise;
- You want to build/grow your development team and scale;
- You do not have the time or skills to manage freelancers or agencies.
What’s also important to know is that a technical co-founder is deeply invested in the startup. In fact, they usually expect to receive around 50% of the startup’s equity. They are not an employee or someone you hire—as mentioned, they are a key partner.
Requirements for Technical Co-Founders
A great technical co-founder for a startup is not just a great programmer. A person who shares founder-level responsibilities has to bring a lot more to the table.
Here is the checklist of what to look for in a technical co-founder for a startup business.
Naturally, a technical co-founder should have the necessary skills to build, launch, monitor, and scale your product. They need to be well-versed and experienced in languages, libraries, frameworks, and cutting edge practices that are or will be relevant to the project.
Important note: look beyond your immediate needs. As the business grows and technologies evolve, you will need a person who will adapt and lead the way in changing conditions.
Your partner should be able to discuss technical topics in a way that non-technical people will understand. You do not want to worry about miscommunication, whether they’re talking with you or the team members.
That said, you need more than seamless discussions. It’s important that you can rely on your co-founder’s social skills as they hire and coach staff or resolve conflicts.
Team Management Skills
Team management holds the entire workplace together. So, look for a person who will make sure the technical teams get work done. You want to work with someone who can keep the product team motivated to work to their greatest potential—with clear directions, constant guidance, and attention.
They say, “behind every overnight success are years of commitment.” It can take years before your startup becomes an established business, too. But co-founders should be able to think 5-10 years into the future today and make efforts to push the team and the product forward to make this possible.
Find a partner whose skills complement yours and whose strengths balance out your weaknesses. You’ll bring the business and financial skills; they’ll handle the technical side. You might be better at pitching to potential investors, while they might be better at strategizing.
A few other qualities of a good member of the founding team:
- Willingness to take equity—Ready to take action and be a voice in the company;
- Large tech network—Can bring in their trusted tech experts;
- Enthusiasm—Excited to build a new product and committed to growing the business;
- Culture fit—Shares your values.
Five Tips for Finding a Technical Co-Founder
Finding the perfect match can prove to be difficult – but these recommendations should help to get a technical co-founder for a non-technical founder.
Get As Far As You Can Alone
Try to get as far as you can without developers involved. There are at least a few reasons to wait: you’ll know how committed to the idea you are, what you want to build, and what kind of person you need to partner with. It’ll be easier to find the perfect match when you know what it should look like.
You might even learn that you have the skills needed to build a tech product yourself or that technology is not a core part of your business.
Create a Compelling Offer
You’re asking someone to make a massive investment of time and effort into your project, so make sure to demonstrate why the project is worthy. In other words, make it clear that the idea has legs before inviting other people on board.
Here are some of the most important aspects to include in the offer:
Your industry knowledge and background research
- Market validation for the idea
- Resources that you bring to the table (marketing, sales, etc.)
- Investment capital you have raised so far (or your plans to raise)
- The timeline before/after the project rollout
- The plan to acquire customers
- Potential return
Ask Important Questions
If the potential tech co-founder likes what you have to offer, it’s time to find what they can bring to the business. Some of the tough questions you should ask are:
- Why do you want to join the startup?
- What motivates you to build this product?
- Who should be the CEO (and why)?
- How will decisions get made? Whose vote will outvote whose?
- What is your expected time commitment? Will this be your primary focus?
- What is your working style?
- How would you describe the culture you want to create?
- What is your technical expertise and can you provide references or examples of past work?
Consult a Business Attorney
It’s best to seek professional legal assistance before you get a technical co-founder for a startup. You are required to comply with the business laws that govern your industry, but it’s likely that none of you are legal experts. So, before things get too far, discuss when and how equity splits between co-founders will be formalized. The attorney will also help you decide the tie breaking system to resolve any disputes between the founders.
An attorney will also help you verify a candidate’s prior employment, education, criminal background information, and other pertinent data.
Test the Relationship
You might not know if you found the right person immediately. In fact, even if you think you’ve found the perfect candidate, take time to get to know how you and a potential co-founder work together.
Have a few meetings, set up a couple of work tasks, and work together in “test mode .”Some things should be assessed in practice – like compatibility, work ethic, and ability to work in a team.
The Best Resources to Find a Technical Co-Founder
Here is where to look first to recruit a technical co-founder.
Your Professional Network
Start within your network. You might already know the person with the skills and drive it takes to be a co-founder – either from your business or social circles. Think back to your past jobs or networking events and reach out to different programmers and IT employees.
Ask around among your friends and colleagues, too.
Hackathons, Contests, and Professional Conferences
Events related to tech and programming are a great way to go beyond your own personal networks.
Also, look up conferences related to your business field. It helps if your co-founder is a like-minded person with whom you can connect on a personal level. So, prioritize attending events that bring together people sharing the same interests as you.
Here are some of the best places to look online:
- Founders’ Nation
Browse the websites that score developers and contact those from the top of the ranking list:
Consider Aleph1 Your Trusted Partner
The right idea and the right founding team are just the beginning of an entrepreneurial journey. You will need help and guidance throughout the many stages of building a solid business. At Aleph1, we specialize in creating startups from A to Z—be it a project in sectors like Blockchain, FinTech, eCommerce, AdTech, or any other.
Whether you need to expand your technical team or put one together from scratch, we’ve got you covered. We’ve already taken on projects to build an NFT-based platform for creators, a design and mock-up platform, and a tool for scientific articles pre-publication, among many more. And if you’d like to discuss your project from a technical perspective, please reach out!
And there it is—here’s how to recruit a technical co-founder.
To summarize, the role of a technical co-founder is heavily involved in programming, which is the first qualification and most important of the many criteria you should consider when choosing. But as you now have learned, the responsibilities do not end there.
Make sure to assess other factors, ask questions, and take your time choosing. After all, finding the right partner is one of the most important decisions an entrepreneur will make, and knowing how to find a technical co-founder will make your life much easier.
What do technical co-founders do?
Technical co-founders help you build a product from scratch. They handle the technical aspects of the project, build the strategy, manage and expand the engineering team, draw up the tech stack, and make sure the product is kept up-to-date with advancements in technology.
How do you find a technical co-founder for your startup?
Some of the most effective resources are professional networks, online communities, assessment tools, hackathons, contests, and professional conferences.
If you’re looking for a tech co-founder, it’s important to put yourself out there—share that you are searching online, speak to your business contacts, ask for recommendations, etc.
Do you need a technical co-founder for your startup?
You need a technical co-founder if you want to build a tech product (or one that has tech-related aspects), scale, and have guidance in managing freelancers or agencies. You might not need one if you already have the technical side covered or have the time and skills to manage external resources.
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