Founders · Startups

Any advice on finding a technical co-founder as a new grad?


February 26th, 2019

I'm a new grad from the Silicon Valley. I've prototyped/wireframed a new business venture to take on the restaurant delivery/reservation space, however, having "just" a Liberal Arts degree from UCSB, I feel like I have low credibility to any potential technical co-founder.

Richard Beck

Last updated on March 1st, 2019

The smart Technical Co-Founder is looking for three things....

First... A killer sales person... not the "used car salesman." But, someone who is friendly who can "knock on doors" and dig into prospects' pain... for eight to ten hours each and every day... at least five days a week... just like the Technical Co-Founder will be working. Simply put... If one is lazy, doesn't love selling or is afraid to sell, being a startup Founder is not for him or her.

Don't think you can have what you feel is a "brilliant idea" and label yourself "CEO" while attempting to enlist others to do all of the work... I've seen this too many times... Now, when I see it, I just laugh.... This type of person adds nearly zero value.... If you want to be a "non Technical Co-Founder, & CEO" you'll need to "earn your keep" by selling as I mentioned above. :-) Smart Technical Co-Founders don't want to have a "CEO" chillin' like a villain waiting to cash in on their hard work.

Second... Cash in hand... not "promised"... not "on the way." Technical Co-Founders who are awesome at building apps quickly and reliably have tons of options... without cash... He or she is gambling with his or her time... and future.

Third... a solid business idea... preferably a "twist" on a proven and profitable product or service... The smart Technical Co-Founder knows most "Pioneers" end up with arrows in their backs.

Finally, the smart Technical Co-Founder will be able to go from idea to production code... without a prototype.... because he already has a system in place... and hates reinventing the wheel. :-)


February 28th, 2019

The fact that you’re a new grad or in have a specific degree would be totally irrelevant to any ‘serious’ co-founder. Instead, there are many things that would either interest or turn-off a potential tech co-founder.

As an example: the space your in, its competitors, how well you know this space, how active you are in it, how much research and feedback from this space was done, how well your idea was vetted by industry experts, your marketing strategy, financial models, cash flow projections, overall business acumen, pre-sales, previous record of startup ventures, your acceptance into a business incubator, … and many, many more.

The information above and how its presented, will tell co-founders how serious and determined you are. And that, is just the beginnings of what would draw a co-founder to you. From there, it only gets tougher. To your success!

Dane Madsen Organizational and Operational Strategy Consultant

March 1st, 2019

Love both Tom & Richard's answers.

To extend Tom's comment, treat this as seriously as you would an investor presentation including your elevator pitch and your teaser deck - clearly articulate who you are, what you build for whom, why you are different than the competitors (and there are some scary ones in this space) and why you will win. Practice this and build the story as well for a co-founder as you would for an investor.

Richard is key to his sales point. There a large body of this discussion in many podcasts, but a recent one from A16Z hit this hard - they believe every company needs to be built on 1) Founder sales (only stopping until the tasks do not allow you to an more), then 2) a smart sales scout to verify and validate, then 3) "the Avengers" sales team, and last, 4) the Infantry. They stated that if the founders cannot and have not sold the product, they are not interested. Before you hire a Dir/VP of sales, who will want an expensive support systems and team, a scout - they called them "Davy Crockett" goes to more territory and refines the founder's sales in a broader territory. Once this has matured, then you hire the Avengers who can sell under fire - versus your competitors. Only after the Avengers have developed the process where it is replicable, then you send in the infantry - and hire them as fast as you can while managing expectations.