Note: This post may seem a bit of a rant. But it’s not. Its just something that people need to understand when dealing with product ideas, technical co-founders and the realization that finding a good co-founder (or any co-founder) is a very hard thing to do. This post attempts to inform you of why you cannot find a technical co-founder and what you can do to solve it.
When I come up with an idea, I try to not get caught in analysis paralysis, I just go out and do something to make it happen. This will expose my true desire for the art of creating a product and company and it will also shake out any of the fallacies that I may have had not thought about prior.
Some people have a great idea and go find someone technical to help them implement it. We all have 3-4 friends who are “idea guys” who come to you with this grandiose idea about X, Y, or Z. They bring you an idea and eventually they simmer down to what they really want – they want your help – they want you to build it and they want to be the “idea guy”. This happens to me multiple times a month and I know it happens to other people I co-work with as well. I see it happen daily. Collaboration is great, but when I’m the only one collaborating its no longer collaboration. It takes two to tango. Giving me an idea and then saying “Go!” isn’t appealing.
I have no problem with folks with great ideas. I think we need more of them. But what I think we really need more of is executioners of these ideas. Not someone who kills the idea, but someone who EXECUTES on their idea.
Instead of going out and finding help when the idea jingles in your head, start working on your idea yourself. If you want to sell custom made chicken coops, then start making the coops. You don’t need a website that has redundancy and triple back up systems. You’re selling chicken coops, dude. You need to build a couple coops and then try to sell them to people who might find them interesting. I would advise going out and talking to prospective customers about your product. What you’re trying to do is achieve some form of a Product Market Fit. Assume you do find what you think to be a valid market for your custom chicken coops. But now you have no website, how do you sell your product? Hmm??? How do do you do that? Simple. Sell them on craigslist. If you sell a few, then maybe there is some market there, go try a new city and tack on shipping and such. Sell it to them. Rinse wash repeat. If things take off and you cannot manage your craigslist sales anymore because it takes too much time then maybe its time to up the game and get a small commerce site up and running. At that point you can most likely pay someone to do it. If not, you have the determination to make it work to find how out to do it yourself with easy online tools. Hell, what do you need a co-founder for at that point? 🙂
Maybe your business is not as cut and dry as the example above. Maybe you want mobile apps developed on all major platforms that helps manage your home automation equipment and integrates with security, thermo and other systems in your house. You want to market this product to the home consumer vertical and you see big potential. Sounds really cool, right? But maybe you don’t have any ideas on how to get going. Thats the first problem you need to solve.
So how do you solve that first problem? The first thing is first, don’t call your buddy who is a software programmer or consultant (I’m not being negative – I’m just trying to help you get better odds of finding someone to take on a project in a co-founder role). Then, start doing SOMETHING. Anything. Make a video demo with iMovie, make a cardboard prototype, make screen mockups. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy but start somewhere. Put some time and effort into it. Do some market research and competitive analysis. Start doing everything you can to make this idea a realization. Go buy a book on mobile or technical device communication. Learn something, make moves. If you have money, hire contractors to do the work. If you don’t have the money then its time to buckle down and learn something new. Get your hands dirty and put some time and effort into it. Sharpen your saw. At one point in your life you didn’t know what you knew how to do now, the same goes for this endeavor and what you’re trying to do (possibly). So put some time and effort into it.
No … wait. Don’t put SOME time and effort into it, put an ASSLOAD of time and effort into it. THEN try to find a technical co-founder.
You need to prove to every possible technical co-founder out there that you’re sold on this idea, then sell it to them. You have to prove, through your PRIOR actions, that you’ve put some work into this. That this is going to work WITH them or WITHOUT without them (the tech co-founder). You would like their help, but you don’t need it. Now that is much more appealing than someone who has just an idea to toss around. Ideas are free, everyone has them. Execution of that idea (even if it doesn’t work) is a completely different world. Technical people want to work with someone who is assertive and confident and gets things done. You need to show me why they need to stop what they’re doing now (which is develop their own products – which they know how to do very well) to refocus on your product idea with you. This is a very hard thing to do. This is why non-technical people are having a hard time finding technical people to do the work.
But really, lets think about this – why is it hard to find technical co-founders? Because technical work is hard and technical people are usually pretty smart. They have their own product ideas that they want to work on. They love what they do and they are naturally drawn to what they love to do. So, If you approach them with this great idea that involves lots of hand waving, exacerbated breathing and hyperventilation the only thing they’re going to think is that you need some meds to calm the hell down and that you might need a ambulance to take you to a padded hospital room for a visit because you seem slightly on the nutsomatic side of the fence. However, if you come to them demonstrating what you’ve done so far (not just the idea), the blood and sweat you’ve already put into it, and you are looking to take it to the next level they will be much more impressed. Maybe you got to a point in which you cannot continue because it’s beyond your level of comprehension – AKA: Complex coding/etc. Thats completely understandable, but at least you put forth a great deal of effort already and your effort and work is visible. If that’s the case, your odds of actually having someone join you in your endeavor are much higher.
I’m not saying/typing this stuff in any disrespect to anyone, I’m just saying what every other technical person wants to say, but won’t. They’ll listen to your ideas but if you want their help you need to prove to them that you’re going to do it with them or without them, regardless. This shows confidence and a level of determination to get things done. Coding is difficult a lot of the time and it takes determination just to get from one task to the next. Convince them through your actions that you are going to make it happen and just maybe they will join you or can recommend someone who can.
So what are you waiting for? Get to work and just do it already.