How to sell your self to a potential technical cofounder

Finding a technical cofounder to build a product is hard. In this article, I elaborate on a few things are good to keep in mind when finding one.

February 03, 2020 · 3 min read

I spent this recent summer participating in YC startup school and one of the things I noticed was the prevalence of founders looking for technical cofounders. It is a difficult situation to be in since engineering is costly. In case you have funds, contracting it out to a third party is not as simple as it seems. I have come across many horror stories on this topic. Here is a list of things I think are good to keep in mind when searching for a technical cofounder.

1. Build knowledge about the problem you want to solve.

If you can’t convince someone to join your company as a cofounder, this can be an indication that you might also have a tough time convincing investors. Convincing someone to be a technical cofounder is similar to pitching to an investor in many ways. Demonstrating knowledge about the industry can help establish some level of trust and credibility. At the end of the day, if you want a technical co-founder to work on your product, you need to show what you’ll bring to the table.

2. Make a real and reasonable offer.

Engineers get approached quite often to help build or join a company as a co-founder. I myself have been approached by someone to help build a product with an offer for 1% equity and no salary to build the whole product. An offer like this is very unrealistic and shows that you do not value what the technical co-founder brings to the table. Depending on how you plan to go ahead with your execution and your level of funding, you do not necessarily need to offer a huge salary. Offering a good amount of equity or some other form of compensation is a good way to show seriousness and also gives your potential co-founder a sense of ownership.

3. Demonstrate some level of effort before your search.

Demonstrate some level of effort before your search. Before going out to look for someone to build your product, try to find alternatives. There is a growing list of low to no code products that can help you build an MVP or at least a landing page. This is a great way to get feedback and some form of validation. If you do not have much prior experience staring companies, this will be a good indicator of your willingness to is a good resource for finding tools that allow you to build software without coding.

4. Be open about what you are trying to build.

When I was in college, I got approached by a couple of friends to help build an app. Before the conversation started, I was presented with a non-disclosure contract and a bunch of documents to sign. This was a turn off because I was not given an idea of what they were trying to accomplish. One thing to keep in mind when pitching your idea is, no idea is original. What is going to make your startup successful is your consistency and execution so do not be afraid to be open about your idea. If the person you are pitching to is not interested, they might know someone who is interested and will have enough information to communicate it to them.

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