A successful digital business consists of an amazing idea and its successful tech implementation. Having completed the first part, start looking for a perfect tech partner that is ready to share project values, is on the same wavelength, and has some funds to invest in your business idea.
Statistics show that startups founded by non-technical teams are 31% more successful than those started by technical founders. There are also a lot of examples of digital startups launched by two or more members. Airbnb, Google, Apple, and Snapchat are just a couple of them.
The strength of the co-foundation approach is the following: while a person with no technical background serves as a conceptual visionary and handles marketing, (Steve Jobs), the technical co-founder, (Steve Wozniak), works on a perfect solution to bring the idea to life.
Who Is a Tech Co-Founder?
A tech co-founder is a person with extremely wide responsibilities. Most of them depend on your projected business operating model as well as your personal style of company management. It is not a position like a CTO or a leading tech engineer, but a status that allows the co-founder to treat their partners as equals and participates in the decisions-making processes with them.
The difference between a tech co-founder and a non-tech one is the knowledge base.
Typically, the first co-founder doesn’t have expertise in the programming field, so they do not understand what funds are required to implement the idea, how much time is needed for project development, and what a project team should look like.
Thus, the founder looks for a trustworthy person that can answer those questions and — if possible — invest some of their own resources in the project. A technical co-founder may also hold the position of CTO and the first co-founder becomes the CEO or CMO, (depending on their background).
In brief, a tech co-founder invests the following resources into a future project:
- Tech expertise
A tech co-founder accepts business risks and is responsible for the business as a whole (just like the other co-founder). If a business becomes profitable, they will receive their share of the profits. If not — they will incur the same losses as the other co-founders.
Remember that a tech co-founder is not a CTO or a tech manager. So what makes those roles so different? Here’s the answer:
A CTO (a Chief Technology Officer) does not have founder-level responsibilities. Founders hire a person as a CTO to build the entire technical picture of the project, maintain a well-balanced team to create a tech product and lead the department in general.
A CTO is responsible for strategic development in the field of technology, may hire new employees, and represent a company at tech events. A tech co-founder can also be the CTO. However, their role is not limited to the CTO’s tasks. Read more about this — What Does the CTO in a Startup Do?
A senior tech engineer (programmer) is a person that has advanced programming skills and can handle any task connected with your product. A senior programmer helps other programmers to grow professionally, builds the product architecture, and speeds up the development process using knowledge and skills obtained during years of practice.
You may hire a senior programmer to support a team of mid-level specialists or juniors. That approach will save your budget costs. However, this employee doesn’t have any Board level responsibilities.
More on this topic — App development Process: From Idea to App Maintenance.
Why Finding a Technical Co-Founder Is So Hard
The very first reason why finding the right technical co-founder might be tricky for you is your uncertainty about why you need this person in the first place. A co-founder is an equal partner that shares with your risks and profits and provides the skills you are lacking (tech expertise, team management, budgeting and others). However, there are also numerous factors that can make your tech co-founder search so exhausting and even ineffectual. They are:
- You don’t know why you need a co-founder
Need someone to code your product? Lacking funds to start your project? Have no experience in tech team management and need someone trustworthy to delegate that task to and oversee the development? Think about looking for an investor, a CTO, or a senior programmer.
- Your project concept is not finalized
It is hard to attract a potential co-founder with an idea that is not clear, even to you. What we advise you to do is to conduct marketing research, study your target audience and competitive niche, list the features of your future product, and try to project profits. At this stage, technical vision and domain experience are really needed. You’ll also have a good idea about what sort of tech expertise is required. Hence, your chances to find a tech co-founder are higher.
- You’d like to share the commitment and that’s it
‘How to start a tech company without a tech background’ is not a complicated question if you’ve got clear advantages to offer to your potential partner. Remember, that founding a company means profits as well as risks. A co-founder is equal to you in terms of company ownership. Be ready to reflect that in the company documentation, to show your partner you openly understand this. Decide who is responsible for each business aspect.
- You don’t have a long-term strategy
Your potential partner might not like getting involved in a business with no long-term plans and strategy. As you are the author of the startup idea, try to think ahead and project your development for 5, 10 and more years. Prepare short abstracts that will help you to prove that the development of the project is going in a positive direction and you are not a naive owner.
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Where I Can Find a Tech Co-Founder
You may take several approaches to a potential co-founder search. Your startup specifics, expectations, existing resources, and many other factors can make one approach a winner and others not.
For example, if you’ve got a wide professional network due to your past involvement in similar projects, it may be easier to find partners among your friends and their partners than attending a professional conference to meet someone unknown to you. Choose your way of finding a technical co-founder from our list:
Personal network and recommendations
complexity — low
problem — everyone knows about you starting a new project
Ask your closest circle of friends for recommendations in person or via your social network page. Contact only those people who are known as accurate executors and share the same professional values as you.
A good idea is to ask colleagues whom you admire.
Use alternative social platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, or even Snapchat to reach more people. Ask friends to share your post with the request to get to the network of most use to you.
The key idea behind this method is to find a person of your type that is known for their hard and soft skills.
complexity — middle
problem — you need to spend a day or more working out your idea thoroughly; your idea may not work for partners as a real business perspective
Hackathons are another method that can be used to solve how to find a technical co-founder. These events are designed to help people polish an idea, find team members that will bring that idea to life, and even find investors.
The problem is people usually registering as participants have their own ideas for development with a new team. At the same time, some hackathons have a predetermined task (which is unknown till the start of the event) and your idea may not match to it.
Websites for co-founders
complexity — middle
problem — high competitive level and few chances of meeting a potential partner offline the next day
Websites where digital enthusiasts meet to become co-founders work as an online meetup platform. The idea is to apply filters and look through the list of specialists that are likely to be interested in your project and have obtained the required skills to become tech co-founders. You could start negotiations with lots of them at once and then come to a final decision.
The most popular sites for co-founder selection are — СoFoundersLab, Founders Nation, Angel.co (also for investors and C-level executors), and Indie Hackers. You could also use the co-founder’s subreddit on Reddit.com and threads on Discordapp and Slack channels. Lots of professionals are checking them frequently so they could spot your offer accidentally.
Programs for entrepreneurship (incubators)
complexity — high
problem — you need to invest time in collaboration with several potential partners
A structured program for potential entrepreneurs is also a good environment for people with ideas to find investors, co-founders, CTOs, and other team members. Those programs are founder-centered.
As usual, they are open to those who have got no experience in running a startup. In addition to creating conditions for finding partners, these programs support you with advanced mentorship. These programs are usually long-term and international.
What if I Can`t Find a Technical Co-Founder
As you see, searching for tech partners is not an easy task, even having a detailed business plan of your product, together with projected profits there is still a big risk that you won’t find the right candidate. Another aspect is the co-foundation agreement. No matter how suitable your potential partner may seem you could face some difficulties at the legal level.
If you just can’t find partners for a startup from the beginning, you could choose another option, like hiring senior-level tech specialists or outsource any kind of tech task. Remember that building an MVP requires a small experimental team where you are not obliged to write code internally (more — How to Build an MVP). We’d like to describe the alternatives that are always available to you:
Hiring a CTO
A chief technical officer is the head of the tech department. If your startup is small — this person is expected to execute the most complicated programming task within the project. Huge businesses hire CTOs to become a company’s tech visionary. In this case, a CTO is in charge of monitoring new technologies and becomes the tech face of the whole business. A CTO can approve candidates for tech positions and oversee the development process in general. For detail read our article What Does a CTO in Startup Do.
Finding a reliable tech partner
Tech partnership is about outsourcing your development tasks by assigning them to third-party groups (a dedicated team, development vendors, or even a single remote programmer). Having a technical co-founder means sharing risks and profits. Working with a tech partner (like LANARS) you provide the outsourcing development team with technical requirements and other tech documentation, then wait for the job to be completed.
Your remote PM is expected to create a development team according to your task, provide you with project timelines, and calculate costs. More information — How to Hire a Dedicated Development Team.
How to Find a CTO
Instead of asking yourself how to find a technical co-founder try to focus on CTO hiring. Like any other employee, they could be found with common tools such as LinkedIn and other platforms for checking professional profiles and hiring. The most popular job platforms for developers (besides LinkedIn) — Toptal, Upwork, Hired, GitHub Jobs, X-Team, and many others.
If you need a skilled CTO with a good reputation, we advise that you check tech conference lineups and attend events to build a professional relationship face-to-face.
Although famous specialists with established reputations cost more, the approach is less risky compared to ‘blind’ hiring using online job platforms.
You could also recruit regular developers with the idea of growing them into the CTO (or a technical co-founder for your next project) in the near future. At the same time, your own future CTO skillset is one more critical issue that may influence your decision or even recruiting strategy. This will depend on the project size, complexity, and operating area.
There is a universal checklist that will help you to sort good candidates for the CTO position:
- Advanced communication and negotiation skills
- Strategic thinking
- Practical tech experience in your startup area
- Creativity and trouble solving skills
- Sense of leadership
- Constant self-education
Keep in mind that CTO responsibilities change from one project stage to another. In addition, if your project scales, a CTO will execute less practical and more strategic tasks. Learn more — What does the CTO in a startup do.
Where to Find a Tech Partner
The procedure of finding a partner is different from hiring a CTO to work on a regular full-time in-house basis.
The main thing you need to consider looking for a tech development vendor is that in this case, you will have fewer management opportunities.
There are several options you could choose from when looking for the right dedicated development team instead of finding a technical co-founder:
- Forming a team hiring freelancers that works remotely and individually
- Cooperation with a reliable tech vendor that will fully outsource all of your tech tasks
- Work with a small or middle-sized development outsourcing company that will handle your tasks with its resources (some of tasks could be executed by your in-house team and the rest is done by the company)
Cooperation with a tech partner is a cost-effective way of how to start a tech company without a tech background. Why? First, you can choose specialists from a global talent pool which is an advantage if you need specialist expertise. Second, you lower costs, by choosing remote workers from the region where hourly rates are lower. Third, you may opt for CTO-as-a-Service and save time on establishing development workflow, hiring, team management issues, and much more.
Choose a development vendor by checking candidates according to the checklist provided:
- Technical expertise
- Team member skill set
- Access to advanced technologies
- Experience in your startup field
- Competitive portfolio and positive references
It is important to define your tech needs, set budgets in advance, and decide on the cooperation model which can be time-and-material or fixed-price. Clarify these issues with our blog article How to Outsource App Development. Tech partners can be found on platforms like GoodFirms, Business of Apps, and CrunchBase, or simply with the help of Google (check their websites).
Building a startup on your own can be extremely challenging, if you do not have any experience in the field of digital development. To empower your project with advanced tech approaches, you need a reliable tech co-founder that can also share the project risks. This person is more than just a team member like a CTO or senior tech specialist. It is an equal partner that is likely to have their own opinion on project management, strategic plans, and budget costs distribution.
Finding partners for a startup also means being ready to share extra tasks, such as attracting investors and building a corporate image. If you are not up to sharing profits and critical decision-making with anybody but you, think of hiring an in-house CTO or outsource your tech tasks with the right development vendor. Although this approach could limit your budget resources, it reduces risks and leads to lower project development costs (in the case of development outsourcing) and time savings.
It’s very difficult to manage a startup. Investors don't invest in companies without technical talent. Someone should focus only on technical aspects and this is the task of the Tech Co-Founder.
Nowadays there are lots of popular solutions to find the right technical specialists to join your team. You can also find co-founders in startup events and conferences. Another way to find a co-founder is by advertising the position on job listing platforms.
A founder has a team working under him on salary and no one shares the equity. A co-founder is someone who is part of the founding team. He can be an investor and a co-founder or a skilled person working as a co-founder.
There is no fixed time as to when you should head start to find a co-founder. But if a startup has a co-founder it makes it a lot easier to both find funding the business, and to also take the startup to the next level.
If you're looking for a great co-founder, then you have to find someone who has similar work ethics, passion, focus, and dedication. However, it is also better if you pick someone coming from a different discipline or field of expertise. They should know how to lead discussions, work, etc., as well as roll-up their sleeves and work with the team too.
Outsource your tech tasks with LANARS
Contact us for project estimates