Starting a startup with some kind of tech as a main force requires a technical co-founder, at least at some stage. While you might start out without a technical co-founder to get it off the ground, you need this at some stage.
What many experience here is not a very delightful process. Getting a technical co-founder is, simply put, very difficult.
The typical scenarios are:
- They demand a very big percentage of the company
- They don’t want to commit 100% to the company
- They are slow repliers
All of these are extremely annoying as a non-tech founder, and I have heard many founders tell angry tales of their attempt to find a technical co-founder.
Now, in this post, I will try to shed some light on these cases: why is it they are so difficult and seem to be lazy and demanding?
In this post I assume the candidates are good. This is not something you as a founder should expect: a big amount of the tech people out there pretty much suck. And while some might be good coders, they might not be the right person to lead a bigger programming project and manage teams, which basically should be the role of the CTO.
However, to simplify this post, I assume you have found a good candidate.
Why is this person demanding a way-more-than-expected percentage of the company, might not even commit to the company, and in general both works and replies slow?
The reason is most founders simply underestimate the work in building projects.
“I just need a technical co-founder to build the product, and then we’re good!” – Most new founders
A technical guy knows this is slang for “Fuck you. I don’t respect you and I have no idea what I am doing.”
Building a technical product takes a lot of time
Building a technical product, either an app, specific website or small program, easily requires hundreds of hours. Sometimes 500+ hrs.
Let’s say it’s 500 hrs. The person will probably not work full time because there is no money yet, so that is 20 hours per week. If you divide 500 by 20, you get 25 weeks or half a year.
Lets say this person got a consulting gig instead, at 40 USD an hour. That is 20.000 USD.
So in this case you’re asking for 20.000 USD on your face.
This gets even worse. He might ask:
“What will you do?”
Or even worse:
“What have you done so far?”
And the answer is:
“Well. Most important, I have the idea. And then I will do marketing, sales and strategy”.
Wait a second.
500 Hrs worth of marketing, sales and strategy?
Are you completely nuts?
This is not going to be a match made in heaven.
What should a founder do to attract a technical co-founder?
The real way to do this is to get out and get customers.
Get purchase contracts. Potential investment. Prototypes. A very detailed design. Interviews with target audience. Potential employees that want to do it.
You need to do something of value.
Building a product is an insane amount of work, and just expecting you will do marketing will absolutely not work.
So why are the technical co-founders lazy and demanding?
Because they know their value.
Because they know they can go on 10 different projects or get 40 USD an hour with blinking an eye (and if they’re good, it’s probably closer to 70-100 USD an hour).
These guys are not lazy. Nor are they demanding.
Try to do the math and respect them. If you do, and simply respect it’s not “just some programming that you can do while I do marketing”…
Then you’re in for a great partnership.