How to Find the Right Co-Founder
Contributed by Bobkevin Shoo
Picture this scenario
You’re at a coffee shop, waiting in line for your morning fix. 2, then 7, and finally 10 minutes go by until you are served. A few minutes later, and you’re restless to get back to your day. Suddenly, you feel the caffeine work its magic, you have a groundbreaking idea:
“What if there was a fully automated cafe that took orders through an app? It could detect your distance from the nearest pickup point, and it would only start making your coffee when you’re close enough so it doesn’t get cold!”
You’re excited, you complete research, write a concept note, and then a proposal. But you stop dead in your tracks, faced with the realization: “I can’t code and I don't know anybody who can, so I can’t continue.”
A lot of people at some point have had a great idea for a great app/digital startup that could disrupt a niche industry, but we lack the technical skills to bring such platforms to life, and not everyone has the contact details of a good programmer in their contact list. Those that do, are faced with the task of pitching their idea and convincing him/her that this will be worth their time.
Looking for the right partner is a hard and long process, and definitely worth it if you’re determined enough to see your idea through. In this post, I will walk you through a few things you need to do and consider in your search for the right technical co-founder (or any co-founder for that matter).
1. Don’t be biased, ask yourself the tough questions
We are very one-sided in perspective with every brainchild we conceive. It’s our baby and we always see the best in everything it is and will be. At some point, though, we have to consider the reality of it all and that’s what a developer will focus on: “What is the actual demand for the service we would bring?”, “What’s the growth strategy?”, “What are some of the challenges I foresee being an issue, and “how do I intend on solving emerging issues while I’m focused on building and bettering our digital service?”
Plug the hole in each leak of your idea by answering tough questions that an investor would otherwise demand answers for. Remember: your co-founder is also an investor in your business. They have invested their time into making your vision a reality.
2. Perform a thorough self-analysis
A co-founder is supposed to balance to your project. In business, knowing your strengths and weaknesses helps you focus your energy where you excel and learn what you don’t know. In this case, your co-founder’s strength should align with your weaknesses. In areas where you may drop the ball, the right co-founder will pick it up naturally. For example, where you lack in programming dexterity, they fill the gaps. Equally, where they lack the ability to pitch, you may make up for it in your persuasion abilities.
Look for someone that balances you out, and whom you balance out as well.
3. Do not settle for just anyone
As excited as you might be after talking to the first enthusiastic programmer you meet, DO NOT SETTLE!
Keeping the example of having a great idea but no technical expertise of how to bring it to life, you need to avoid working with a programmer who is simply a ‘yes-man/woman’. Instead, you really want to look for someone who is able to tell you how they’ll differentiate and improve your product, in order to truly bring it to life. Instead of working for you, they should able to tell you how they can work with you and enhance aspects you may have not even realised could be improved.
Apart from the technical know-how, you want to be around somebody who is just as passionate about their contribution to the overall vision as you are.
4. Protect your brainchild
There are a lot of programmers out there and not all of them have brilliant ideas to spend their time on.
Before discussing your idea, make sure you are prepared to have a Non-Disclosure Agreement signed. An NDA will lawfully restrict anybody from sharing and/or using any information that you have communicated to them in anyway. You can also go a step ahead and apply for a provisional patent of your idea. The WORST thing that could happen on your pursuit of a good technical co-founder is that someone steals your idea and implements it without you.
Do not let your ideas die from “lack of dexterity.” Finding the right co-founder requires patience, perseverance and careful planning. During your search, you can start the process of moving your idea forward for its current conceptualisation phase by working smart. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself in a coffee shop counting down to the day when you will no longer have to wait in line to be served, seeing a vision of industry disruption on the horizon.
If you are a non-technical founder, share the story of how you found your technical half by commenting below. Or maybe you’re in a completely different industry but feel there are tips missing, please comment below.
Founder & CEO of Bludesk - Job Portal & Marketing Director at Skytel Africa