Is this unheard of/common?
Not at all uncommon - clearly having something to show is better than a one page business plan, but finding a tech co-founder willing and able to work for equity alone will require effort.
Consider it similar to raising money. You'll need to convince someone that this is a truly viable business and the time they will invest will pay back many times what they are giving up in pay. Having a viable plan to getting to the first dollar would also be valuable.
Note that finding just anyone who can jockey some code around as a co-founder is also dangerous. You'll need someone who can get you all the way through the startup phase. Ie someone who can get you to scale.
Richard -Please allow me to provide a different perspective from someone who has been at 10 different startups and has advised dozens more. The main reason for a co-founder is to "fight" with you. To provide you with the "kind truth" when you begin to believe that you can do no wrong. Also, many investors are wary of one man shows. If you want to get outside investment from Angels and or VCs, I recommend you find someone who believes in what you are doing but is his/her own man/woman. If you do not need outside fidning then working on your own has just the one risk I have seen too many times - Founderitis. If you fall in love with your own idea and are not open to it being wrong then you are at risk as well.
Richard -Please allow me to provide a different perspective from someone who has been at 10 different startups and has advised dozens more. The main reason for a co-founder is to "fight" with you. To provide you with the "kind truth" when you begin to believe that you can do no wrong. Also, many investors are wary of one man shows. If you want to get outside investment from Angels and or VCs, I recommend you find someone who believes in what you are doing but is his/her own man/woman. If you do not need outside finding then working on your own has just the one risk I have seen too many times - Founderitis. If you fall in love with your own idea and are not open to it being wrong then you are at risk as well. . . . .
I appreciate all of the valuable responses. I've been giving this a lot of thought the past month. Per the responses here, I believe I should continue to run this by myself while utilizing a freelancer until the MVP is launched and gains traction. I have a very specific vision for my startup and selecting a tech co-founder too early out of haste could be a bad decision. I'm working 12-14 hours a day on this 7 days a week,, it would be unwise to have a co-founder in a part time consulting role at this time.
I agree with Bill Flynn. However it will be difficult for you to relinquish some power to a co-founder that comes in so late in the process. The problem is that it will not take long for anyone to see through your lack of treating that person as a co-founder. Those VC will see it and think what relationship will this person have with us. If you do not pick up a co-founders then those VC will be thinking the same thing also. You need a co-founder that fills in your weaknesses and then you have to accept that his decisions will be almost alway better then yours if this area is the major issue.
It depends on what the product is. Just learning the basics of a programming language can work in some cases.
If you are receiving payments online, storing customer data, requires major server resources, .... and so forth, you will need to sit and learn some tangible technical skills, if you decide to take on the technical challenges.
Saying just learn some programming language could just end up being a bad advice.
Could be wrong but work for equity seems more of an American thing. Most deals are going to be % equity. If you're going to freelance maybe try for a growth hacker expand on the traction you currently have then you can run crowdfunding and look for a tech cofounder.
One of the unexpected benefits of crowdfunding is that you can attract not only funding but attention and possibly team members. Some sites even have a "Mentor / Join / Hire" function that enable this and angel.co is particularly focused on the hiring aspect. Our site (MedStartr.com) is only for healthcare, but we have seen thousands of conversations of this nature begun and many actual team joins. That stated, I agree with Leopold as well, you have to sell the tech co-founder on the idea. Sounds like you are good at that already. Good luck!
experiencing the same situation...But i am still learning to code. But i think it would be more faster to get a tech co-founder to build up our mvp. And it is something quite difficult there! Coz many people i have talk with, just want cash in short term,...even though they are interested in the project. And i don't want to get a freelancer because it will be more expensive for something that we just want to test...Richard It seems like many people are not wiling to be drive by passion, and to take risk. It's obvious.
To answer some of the new comments on here:
1.) "You need a tech co-founder NOW"- I have progressed substantially with my development skills the past two months. While my code may not be high "quality" as some has rightfully assumed, it's decent enough that my current beta testers and prospective clients are very happy with what they're seeing. I've accomplished my MVP goals + some . I'm beginning to believe non-tech co-founders who think "I can't do anything without a tech cofounder" don't have the drive to make their concept a reality. If your concept is not an all flash array, you should probably try to knock out as much as possible by yourself. I've only been involved with one tech startup, my background is in equity research. I don't have the clout to simply float a concept around SF wishing for investment, I'm going to release this MVP, prove the concept, and then patiently find the perfect tech co founder.
2.) The startup I'm creating is essentially automating a process I did at my previous tech startup. I saw that there was incredible demand for a specific process involved with my job and immediately started working with those people when I started developing this website. I've been able to get investor interest, prospective clients, and active users by that alone.
3.) Yes, security is a very legitimate issue as there are multiple payment gateways and payment processes on my web application. My good friend who was a web developer at the Naval Academy and now does security for a living will be closing all loose ends for me when the MVP is nearing launch.
4.) Not being able to get VC funding because I'm a one man team. I don't want VC funding. From my professional experience in finance and witnessing the VC effect on my previous/and friends startups I know what it entails. I'm hoping to do smaller deals with angels and accelerators until I can run this as a profitable business. It's not an earth shattering paradigm shift idea, it's more akin to Patreon (if you've heard of them). I have a very, very specific vision for my company and I will not allow it to be squandered by a VC.
5.) I'm going to take my time finding the perfect tech co-founder who is agile, knowledgeable on every layer of the development stack, witty, but most importantly is enthusiastic about the market my company is in. That matters most to me than anything else.
Keep in mind, I do want a tech co-founder. But for now, things are ramping quite strongly without one. If one presents themselves that match my criteria, are willing to pull up their sleeves for the 14 hour days I've been doing 7 days a week, then I'll take them on.