How to find technical co-founder to build your idea?
It is obvious that your technical co-founder should have solid technical background with product development experience. Apart from that, they should also possess strong business sense with the ability to provide you business and customer insights through their knowledge of working in the market with other entrepreneurs. Here are a few key criteria that you can go through while evaluating suitable candidates as your technical co-founder:
- They should be interested in your business, and not just the technical challenges. This is important if you need someone to build a great product. Their interests in the business will motivate them to contribute good suggestions and improvements, and not just build as per your specification.
- They should have design expertise, aside from their technical expertise. Great product is not just about the efficient code behind it, but how it interacts with your customers to help them accomplish what they want to do. Good design skills is not so much about the ability to come out with pretty user interface, but to design a process that solves your customers’ problems in a simple and intuitive in a way.
- They should have good communication skills. While you might think it is ok for your tech co-founder to be a quiet person, afterall you will be the one that talks to customers and investors most of the time. In reality, it is important for them to be able to communicate the company’s technology strategy and strength to investors, management, staff, partners, customers, and stakeholders. Though they will be initially working on the backend work most of the time, you want them to be your lead developer or project manager as your company grows.
Where can I find them?
So where you can find these type of people? Here are some suggestions:
- Tech events. There are a lot of events in Malaysia and around this region where a lot of techie attend. Some of them are WebCampKL, StartupWeekend, Technopreneur Open Day, etc. If you are looking for a technical co-founders as well as other professionals (marketeers, designers, investors, advisors, etc.) who often work with startups, you should attend or pitch your idea to StartupPartners as well.
- Universities. Reach out to Computer Science professors in the universities to see if they can recommend talented students to you or promote your project to them. You can also try to get introduced to the leader of student clubs. Try to build relationships with them through volunteer speaking and hang out with them and get to know them better. They are usually very happy when they see someone from the industry.
- Software outsourcing companies. These are the companies that focus solely on providing software development services. Due to their business focus, their team is usually comprised of developers and programmers of all ranges of skills and experience. Although it may sound attractive, this is also the most expensive option. Successful outsourcing also requires you to hire a technical manager to supervise your outsourced team so that your money spent will not go down the drain.
- Online job board and outsourcing sites. Although it takes time, there is nothing stops you from posting advertisement on local jobs board like Jobstreet, Monster, YourPartime, though the candidates that you get might not necessarily used to work for a startup company. Aside from that, there are outsourcing sites like Elance and oDesk, where freelance programmers hang around to look for projects.
How do I work with them?
The 2 common ways of working with developers or programmers is you either pay them a fixed price based on the specification, or get them to commit certain time in a week on your project and pay them either weekly or monthly. (Just like paying them fixed salary.)
The advantages of fixed price based on specification is you get clearer picture on how much its going to cost and what you are going to get. Some people even use this approach to hire the cheapest developers. The downside of this approach is you will need to put a lot of time and effort to understand, decide, and document what you want up front. Although you the developers that you will be hiring can be cheap, they will just do what you ask. They will rarely get creative and offer you ideas on improving your product. Literally, you will get what you give.
Paying them on fixed hours and fixed pay will give you more flexibility in managing your product development. As you get more experience in startup, you will notice that your idea changes rapidly. As you talk to others, you will notice there are certain things that you overlooked, and there are things that are not as important as you thought. For that, you will need a flexible plan and specification that can be adjusted as you learn more about your market needs. To manage cost so that you don’t go over budget, you will probably need to have regular meeting with your developers to review what they have done, update them on the new opportunities that you discovered, and what is the next step. This process is also known as agile and iterative development that many startups practise.
What are other available options?
If you already have a complete spec and design for your product, and you are confident that this is what your customers want, then you can just look for developers using the tips shared above. But if you are interested in exploring potential improvements for your idea, or other cost and time saving shortcuts to build it, or other strategies that can minimize your risk in building something nobody wants, then our CTO can probably help you.
Or if this is not something that you are looking for, then perhaps you can go through our Startup Checklist Test. It can helps you to check whether you have covered all the vital steps when planning your startup and new product development.