Finding a Technical Co-Founder: Be Respectful

In our last post on finding your technical someone, we talked about how we advocate for actually working with a person before fully hiring them on and before making that commitment. We called this the “try before you buy” approach. This next idea, being respectful of people’s time, might seem a little obvious, but it’s necessary and can be one of those elements that gets lost in the desire to find your tech person as fast a you can.

As a reminder, here are our other ideas for finding your technical co-founder:

The Job Market is Hot

The job market for good technical folks is pretty hot. They are in-demand and can choose who they want to work for. This is the case in many areas, including Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Because of this, many of the good ones already have jobs and aren’t actively looking for a new job.

The challenge is that we want to move on our idea now. Or yesterday. We don’t want to miss out on that market window and lose out to someone else who might be on to the same thing we are. We know what we want to build and we want to build it now. We need someone now.

So, you may have to convince them that leaving a good job with a stable income would be a good risk to work at your new company, with little to no traction, no revenue, and maybe even just an idea. This can take time. This is where talking about your idea, showing your idea has legs, and working with someone on a part-time trial basis can come in handy. It can buy you some time.

We’re Desperate and Want to Move on Our Idea

In the meantime, even as we feel desperate and want to move now and find our person now, consider the following:

If you are asking for a meeting, know that this person quite possibly has a lot of meetings and they are taking time out of their day for you. Don’t be late. Don’t reschedule your meeting three times. Don’t cancel three minutes before the in-person meeting starts. Offer to buy the first cup of coffee or lunch. Offer to meet when and go where it’s convenient for them, especially if they have a full-time gig that’s hard to leave during the day.

Unless you’ve specified up front that this is an interview and even more specifically that this is a technical interview, it’s not an interview. It’s informational. It’s networking. It’s a way to learn more about you and your startup. They are learning just as much about you as you are about them and deep diving into their technical skills in the first meeting is probably going to be a turn off for many. The more you share about what you’re working on, the better they can help you.

Consider doing them a favor, whether it’s now or in the future by way of an introduction, referral business, sharing your product, or promotion. Ask what you can do for them. End your meeting with “And how can I help you?” They may not have a need right in that moment, but that’s ok. You’ve extended the gesture and opened up an opportunity for future engagement with this person.

If you’ve talked about working with this person and they’ve given you an answer, whether it be “I’m in!”, “Not right now”, or “I don’t think I’m the right fit for this,” respect their answer. Don’t hound them. It may be appropriate to check in with them in the future to see if their interest has changed, but discuss that up front. Ask when the best time to check in again would be.

Give & Take

Building these relationships is a process that has some give and take. And finding your technical someone is part of that. By being respectful, asking how you can help, and honoring their decision, you’ll be in a better position in the long run.

In our last post, we’ll dig into what you can learn about tech yourself and how to use that knowledge to push your business forward as well as connect to your next technical someone.