Guest Column by Ahmed Siddiqui, Startup Weekend San Francisco Bay Area coordinator and founder of Go Go Mongo!
It seems like getting a technical co-founder is all the rage here in Silicon Valley. You have an awesome idea, you have a killer application to YCombinator, and you know that if you land that technical co-founder, you’ll have the golden ticket to get that meeting with Paul Graham.
You keep going to these networking events and tech events desperately searching for your technical co-founder and still no luck!
After speaking with hundreds of entrepreneurs and running Startup Weekend events in the Bay Area for the past year, I can understand why so many people have issues finding technical co-founders. Here are the top five reasons why you still don’t have a technical co-founder, so listen up!
You Search for Technical Co-founders at Networking Events
The reality is that good technical people are just too busy to go to networking events. In many instances technical people hate networking events because everybody and their mother pounces on them to build their crazy app.
You Are Not Geeky Enough
Like I said earlier, most technical people hate networking events. They want to be in places where other technical people hang out. Maybe they are out playing Halo online with their friends, watching Anime, or even building robots at the TechShop. You need to start understanding what technical people like, and start joining those types of events.
You Are Really Just Looking for Someone to Build Your App
At Startup Weekend Bay Area, we have a strict ‘no douche bags’ policy. Here is a definition of a Bay Area douche bag: ‘Man/Woman who pitches an idea, and has no idea how to execute it, and just wants a developer to build their idea to spec.’ In other words, maybe you just need someone to build your product for you. If this is you, then you are best served finding a contractor and paying him/her to build it for you. Having a technical co-founder means that you are working together with someone technical to build out something where both parties are contributing. If you are not open to changing your idea and you just need someone to build your idea, you indeed fall under our working definition of a ‘douche bag,’ and you won’t ever get a technical co-founder—unless of course you are willing to change your tune. Note: I have met many converted douche bags, people can change.
You Aren’t Leveraging Your Network
Many people make the mistake of looking for technical co-founders based on specific skills, e.g., ‘I need a Rails developer, or an iOS developer.’ The reality is that a good programmer can pick up just about any language. So instead of going to networking events and looking for an iOS dude, go through your Facebook friends and LinkedIn contacts to find past colleagues and friends that you can partner up with. The best teams are teams with history. That’s why teams of recent college graduates typically work well together: they have a history, they’ve lived together, studied together, partied together, (maybe even showered together?), and they have a good working understanding of each other. Who knows, maybe one of your old college buddies might be up for being your technical co-founder!
You Can’t Code
I’m actually fairly technical, having worked in the analytics space at IBM for nine years. Earlier in my career, I rolled up my sleeves and coded, but as time passed, I got more and more into management and didn’t have time to code. When I left to start my own company, I was also looking for technical co-founders, but had such a tough time because iOS guys are just so hard to find! I realized that I needed to go back to my roots and roll up my sleeves and code again. I picked up a book on iOS and dove right in. I still suck at the syntax, but at least I know how the app can be technically architected and can have an in-depth conversation with a developer. In short, I became my own technical co-founder.
So if you can’t code, then I suggest you learn with a real example. You’ve got an idea and now just simplify it, pick up a book, and code! You will learn a ton and even if you don’t get good at it, at least you can have a meaningful conversation with a developer.
In sum, don’t be discouraged if you haven’t yet found a technical co-founder. Chances are, you are simply looking in the wrong places and perhaps are in need of a slight paradigm shift. Douche bags notwithstanding, a relatively intelligent individual who is open to input and collaboration will, sooner or later, find his or her partner in crime!
Contributed by Ahmed Siddiqui, who coordinates the Startup Weekend events in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also the founder of Go Go Mongo!, a game company that inspires kids to eat healthier. He can be reached through Twitter: @siddiquiahmed