Mar 4 2008

Finding your technical founder

I hear a version of this question a lot (like the one below today from Dawn):

I talked to a firm that really likes my business plan but thinks I should have a technical co-founder. SIGH Any ideas how I could find a really good tech guy, preferably with some cache???

While not every business needs a technical co-founder, many (most) benefit from some early technical vision that is unlikely to be provided by the business founder.  So where do you find these people that can code, help refine your technical vision and check the technical cache box?  Here are a couple of ideas.

Surf your sandbox.  You know people.  They know people.  If you can’t think of someone who fits the bill from your own network, start asking around to other people you trust.  Particularly other technologists who will have a good sense for whether someone they might recommend has the technical chops to really help you out.  Many a great business/technical founder marriage has been made by a well intentioned third party.

Pay attention to the local scene.  Technical talent hangs out at various places in your town.  You need to find them (since they are less likely to find you).  If you are lucky enough to have a New Tech Meetup in your area or Bar Camp, StartupWeekend or Open Coffee Club or some similar semi-organized event that attracts technologists and entrepreneurs alike make sure you frequent them and talk up your ideas.  You’re looking for someone who not only can add to your project, but who also shares your enthusiasm.  If your town doesn’t have any of these – start one.  You’d be amaze at how quickly people will come out of the ether to share ideas at events like the ones listed above.

Be vocal.  My recent "stealth or not" post aside, if you’re looking to find someone to share in the passion of your idea you need to be talking it up. On your blog. In comments to other peoples’ posts. In web forums.  Maybe even on Craig’s List.  Don’t be shy about sharing your idea and asking for help.  I know a bunch of co-founders who found each other on message boards or in similar forums.

Check your mentors.  This is really an extension of surfing your sandbox, but you shouldn’t be shy about asking around for help.  Bother the local VC bloggers, ask the people that are helping you get off the ground if they know anyone.  Be aggressive about asking people who might have good ideas for help.

Good luck! I’d love to hear from teams that met in the ways described above (or in any other way for that matter) – founder stories are always entertaining.