Sorry, this is a long post. Please bear with me. I'm a software developer with 30+ years of experience. I'm reading all of these questions about how people can find a "tech" or "software" person as a co-founder, and want to cringe. Terminology is a big problem here, as well as a fundamental misunderstanding about software developers. I'd like to address that briefly, then describe an idea I just came up with to help solve the bigger problem and get your feedback on it.
Experienced software people come in two flavors: (1) people who program for a living and won't work for free; and (2) people who are very creative, have enough ideas of their own to work on for three lifetimes, and may be having trouble paying their bills. You won't get either one to partner with you for 100% equity! The first group just won't do it. The second group can't afford to, and even if they could, you're fooling yourself if you think you can convince them to invest a bunch of time and resources in YOUR idea (in which they have zero control) rather than invest the same time and resources in one of their OWN ideas (in which they have 100% control).
As an aside, these are the same people you're worried about stealing your ideas. Even if they did, they wouldn't be able to do anything with them. They're generally harmless in this respect. (We think, "My ideas are FAR BETTER than yours, anyway!" However this statement occurs to you, it's a big impediment to us stealing your ideas.)
What's left for you to choose from is retirees; near-retirees; unemployed people who are broke; and young turks who have very little overhead (they may be living with their parents), very little experience, and very little ability to advise you about the breadth of technical issues your idea may encounter. So they're not going to be good candidates to act as a "business partner" or "co-founder". Maybe a "coder".
Anyway, what I find most folks need is not a co-founder, but a rapid prototype of their software that acts as a proof-of-concept and moves them further down the road.
So I came up with this idea for creating some kind of "Software Development Lab" that operates like the model used by Tech Shop. However, instead of having a bunch of expensive mechanical tools there for use by the community, there would be a small staff of software experts who can help you flesh out your idea, write up design documents, and whip out functional prototypes in a matter of days or a week.
The Lab is "Community funded" somehow, and the staff is paid a modest amount to be available to consult with members who need help, as well as create software. (The staff would also be available for direct hire on an hourly basis.) The software they build isn't like full products that take months to build; rather, it's quick-turn proof-of-concept prototypes that are semi-functional -- enough to look and work ok, but not production quality.
The work itself is done on a kind of "pay it forward" basis where there's an expectation that any immediate funding you get will include some monies to reimburse the Lab, as well as some equity the Lab gets to benefit from your future growth.
This is different from most incubators in that the Lab isn't being "incubated". It's a resource for startups to use BEFORE they get to the incubation stage. And the Lab isn't helping with the startup in an end-to-end sense; rather, it's just helping the non-techie founders explore the technical side of their product in far greater depth than they could get from kids with little real-life experience, as well as get access to quick-turn prototypes built by experts.
So what do you guys think of such a service? Would it fit for your needs (as opposed to other things you may have considered).
The pink elephant in the room, of course, is how does this get funded? We'd be looking at around $400k per year for a staff of 4-6 people per Lab, plus office space. Startups cannot pay for these services at this point in their evolution. After a year or so, I'd expect that there would be enough startups that got enough funding to start repaying their costs, so it could become self-sustaining. But what parties would have enough of an interest to provide initial funding?