Are You Making These Mistakes When Trying to Find a (Technical) Co-Founder?

It seems that trying to find a technical co-founder is quite a challenge this days. Being CTO of a small company, I am approached regularly by entrepreneurs in search of one. Here are the 8 most common errors I see again and again.

Error 1: Sending me an email that contains nothing that sparks my interest

When the mail only says that they are looking for a co-founder and nothing more, that doesn’t capture my attention. Why should I spend any time talking to them?

Error 2: Not telling me what their product is about

If they don’t want to give me any details about what they are working on because they are afraid I could steal their idea, I feel that they don’t trust me. Not a great way to start a relationship.

Error 3: Not talking to me about the big idea

I couldn’t clearly express this one until I read The Monk and the Riddle (Amazon affiliate link) from Randy Komisar and found this quote:

The chance to work on a big idea is a powerful reason for people to be passionate and committed. The big idea is the glue that connects with their passion and binds them to the mission of an organization. For people to be great, to accomplish the impossible, they need inspiration more than financial incentive.

If they don’t have a big idea and share it, how can they expect that I will become passionate about their project? They want a passionate co-founder, don’t they?

Error 4: Not telling me what they bring to the table

Why should I work with them? What special skills or knowledge do they have? What are their strengths? What are their unique abilities?

Error 5:  Not giving me any concrete evidences that it might work

I want to know not only what they have built, but also what they did to validate their idea.  What did they learn for certain? What experiences or minimal viable products did they create to test the assumptions of their business model (validated learning)?

Error 6: Not understanding what motivates a technical person

No, “it’s a great technical challenge” and making a ton of money are really not motivators by themself.

Error 7: Talking about wedding on the first date

If we were on a first date, it would be awkward to start discussing wedding and children, even if it is what my date hoped to find. Partners have to get there step by step. Approaching me asking to be your co-founder is way too direct.

Error 8: Not knowing what they are seeking

They need to understand what they want. What kind of technical co-founder do they need: a CTO, a lead developer, a VP of engineering? A CTO can have a more strategic and leading role than purely writing code on a daily basis.

Do you want to know how to solve these problems?

I am working on two articles for the coming weeks that will interest you if you liked this article:

  • My mostly unproven method on how to find a technical co-founder.
  • A step-by-step guide on what to do if the only technical co-founder you can find is an oyster that programs in Fortran.

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