Cofounder · Finding cofounders

How to meet technical co-founders if you are not in the tech industry?

Nina Zhang Founder @ LunchTime, ex solar developer, ex corporate worker bee, fun, determined, dreamer

April 22nd, 2017

I am an ex solar developer and have been working in corporate environment since graduation. I got a startup idea that I am dedicated to make it a real product. However, I don't know anyone from my network that can build an app at the same time share the same vision. What should I do besides being here?

David Austin Relentless problem solver and innovator.

April 23rd, 2017

I've found the usual channels for entrepreneurs not to fruitful for looking for tech cofounders. If anything they're usually swamped by others also looking for technical help. One possible option is to check upwork and some of the other freelancer sites for technical people in your region. It takes a bit of searching but it is possible to search for people with the skills you need in your area. What I do is I make note of their names, then look them up on linkedin. If they have a page there, you can learn more about them, and get an idea whether they're worth making a contact. Have done this many times myself. Note that the people you'll find there will usually only work for $, but that is almost always the case when looking for tech co-founders anyway no matter how great your idea is.

James Abel Software/Hardware Engineer

April 23rd, 2017

You could try going to Meetups ( that are related to your idea - there are tons of meetups in the Bay Area. Be prepared to talk to a lot of people and build a network - it'll probably take a considerable amount of time and effort to find someone (if you ever do).

Gabe Kangas Startup founder, mobile engineer, API junky & builder of things. Not a computer scientist.

April 23rd, 2017

It sounds like you fall victim to the same fallacy that many non-technical founders do: That technical co-founders are there simply to build your app. If what you need is an app built then pay somebody to build it. A technical co-founder is not free labor.

Secondly, if you have some real progress on product you're more likely to attract a co-founder since it doesn't fall into "I did all the work, all I need is for you to build the product" territory.

John Zhu Can help MVP development in exchange of sales expertise

Last updated on April 26th, 2017


First of all, technical co-founders are not cheap, nor are they easy to find. When you do find a technically competent person who would like to work with you, you will have other possibly intractable issues: compensation, technical/business directions, personality, trusts etc.

On the other hand, I believe most new ideas do not need a real CTO in order to prove its concept, and to get the first a few customers: have you tried everything you possibly can to prove your concept, and to serve 1-2 customers without a single line of code? Can you "massage" your ideas so that "serving 1-2 customers without a single line of code" becomes possible?

What I am saying is: since it is a hard and expensive to get a CTO, why don't try to find a way to do some initial work without them. I am sure you will be in different position and ask a different question when you have 1-2 customers to prove your concept.

This may not work for everyone and for every idea, but a worth-trying path for a lot of people and a lot of ideas, especially for those who are willing to "massage" their ideas/concepts.

Also, find a technically competent person, ask them do you a favor by giving an estimate how complicate to implement your idea. With this information, you will be in a better position to decide your next step.

Good luck


David Austin Relentless problem solver and innovator.

April 23rd, 2017

Although I did not get the same impression as Gabe, I do agree with him that such is normally the case. Technical aspects of a new venture are always, and I mean ALWAYS more difficult than non-techies (and inexperienced techies) presume them to be, often by an order of magnitude. You need to understand that going into it. There's also the presumption among many if not most technical co-founders that they can do your job but you can't do theirs ... which may be true depending on how good you are at your part of the deal. By the same token technical co-founders similarly overestimate the ease of the business side of the venture, and are in general less adept than their business counterparts at that. These misunderstandings can lay the groundwork for a very contentious relationship and doom the project to failure. The reality is that both technical and business aspects are equally important and should receive equal efforts ... it matters not which requires more training, both require great expertise and effort. Once you find that match (and again ... I probably take exception from most about the value of meetups and such ... look for help where the supply-demand curve for technical help is in your favor) you might want to consider the slicing pie model to make sure efforts on either side are properly rewarded and everyone ends up happy.

Raditya Budianto Founder, Technical

April 25th, 2017

If I am in your position, I adjust the complexity of the product instead of looking for cofounder. The product is the essence of the company, preferabley you are the one who get it done. If your cofounder in bad mood, they can screw you around.

Ihab Bendidi CEO in GenTech, CTO in B-LIFE, mobile and web dev Engineer

May 24th, 2017

Technically speaking, finding a good CTO is extremely difficult, and trust me, working with no CTO in most cases is better than having a bad CTO. When I wanted to start my first company, I partnered successively with tech people to do the programming part, but they were always subpar and never really "got it", that vision that fuels the project, and what entrepreneurship is about. they were always about becoming more skilled in programming and making it more creative, and not satisfying the customers or meeting deadlines. Good CTOs are very beneficial to your startup. Heck, they are what fuels it forward, but never compromise and get a bad CTO.

Based on my experience, compromising on a CTO can lead to a total collapse of the product development process and eventually your startup; failed business objectives, subpar product characteristics, and performance, waste of a budget, loss of labor hours and deployments that take forever. In most cases, this is not something your early-stage startup will be able to live through.

You should consider partnering with technological companies that provide technical services for startups. They are a great alternative while you're still looking for a technical co-founder. Don't set idle. Those tech companies conduct services tailored for startups, such as the development of prototypes for web platforms and mobile apps. They even help you in design stuff.

Try contacting GetTech :

It's a startup that provides those technical services at prices accessible for just founded startups, and services tailored as such. They also got a network of developpers and programmers, so as they work with you and get to know you, they recommend to you a programmer that would be best fit for you to be a co-founder. You could downright pay for their services, or give up on a 3% equity of your startup for a year and half of technical follow up in your project.

Michael Hoffman CEO and Engineer

April 23rd, 2017

One option for you may be to check the Chicago Tech slack group. They have a fairly vibrant community and you might be able to find someone that shares your vision.

Stephen Findley Helping tech startups succeed by pairing them with awesome developers

April 24th, 2017

Hi Nina, have you thought about collecting a list of mobile app developers and contacting them through an email campaign?

Ask if they provide equity share scenarios for reduced fees or outline your budget expectations for the project to ensure you don't get into detailed discussions when your budgets are not aligned.

A good developer will share your vision, provide feedback and testing across their team and either allow you to participate in an equity scenario or let you build out without losing control/ownership of your product (and ensure you retain the IP). I work with a number of developers so feel free to get in touch if you need a hand!

Kind regards, Steve

Eddie Software Consultant

April 27th, 2017

Hi Nina,

You could go to techie meetups. If you're looking for an app, I'd suggest going to meetups around iOS, Android, Xmanarin, Intel XDK or Mobile App Development. You are bound to meet someone who would point you in the right direction or introduce you to someone wh could.