Sometimes people have businesses or ideas that need some kind of technical know-how. Whether the business utilizes tech, or it is a tech company, some ideas are very dependent on some form of tech. And while one can outsource the technical aspects of their business, having a technical co-founder could be a great asset.
But how do you woo a technical co-founder to join your founding team or executive team? How do you approach a tech person to join your team, especially when you are bringing a new idea to the market.
I have had to work twice as a technical co-founder with two tech companies in the past. The reasons why I worked with these companies will make you understand how to woo technical co-founders to join your startup team.
First Experience: Digital Marketing Company
The first time I had to work as a technical co-founder was with a digital marketing agency back in the year 2013. A guy I was freelancing for approached me right after my master’s degree program. He wanted to turn his business into a company, and he wanted me on board.
I was the Chief Technology Officer, which also meant I was an executive in the company. But I worked like a co-founder, not only as director of technology… late nights, overtime and so on. In fact, I had no official working hours for a while because we were still setting the company up. One does not set company up using regular employees; you do so with founders or co-founders.
What is the difference? Regular employees want to fulfill their working hours and take their paycheck home. That is it! They do not care much about working over time, and especially not for free. People like us who have that hustle-preneur attitude do not mind working extra just to get an idea off the group. We can and will slave for as long as it takes, to birth an ideas to life. Regular employees come after the slaving is over and the company is already set up.
But why was I willing to do all this for a new company that was not pulling in enough income? The main reason was because the company’s goals were inline with my own personal goals.
As a computer programmer, I am passionate about making life easier for people. Then a company with the same goals, through digital marketing solutions, approached me. I already had the experience and the passion, so it was too easy for me to join them. It was almost as if I was being offered money for work that I could have done for free anyway!
Second Experience: Food Discovery and Ordering Platform
Currently, I am the Chief Technical Officer of a food ordering platform. But I own some shares in the company which means I am a shareholder. This does not make me a co-founder but I am filling the position of a technical co-founder in this case. And you know what comes with bearing the cross of a co-founder… no official working hours, and so on.
So why would I join a company for shares rather than salary? I would not have taken the offer if they had offered me a salary instead of shares in the company. It may be common practice for startups to also give a employee shares, but this case was different.
I had prior experience in the business of this company, but that was not why. The idea of a regular source of income sounds comforting to most people. But having shares in the right company is an investment into my future. And that was inline with my long term investment goals. So it was easy to say yes, while others were after salaries.
Now let me put it all together. There were two things that made me join these two companies. First was my experience as a developer. I was competent for the role due to years of the right experience as a computer programmer.
Second was the fact that their goals were pretty much in line with my personal goals. Since I wanted to make life easy for others, being director of technology afforded me that privilege. The second company’s goals also fell inline with my goals for multiple sources of income. And at the same time, getting to change the world of discovering and ordering food online.
So my suggestion when approaching technical co-founders is simple. You first need to understand what keeps them up at night! Find out what they are passionate about. Know what their short term and long term goals are. Then see if there are similarities between your company goals and their own goals.
That way, you will be getting them to want to work with you, rather than getting to them work with you. Get it? Getting people to do what you want is easy, but gives short-term results. Getting them to want to do what you want is much harder, but gives lasting results. If your goals align with theirs, they will want to work with you.
And finally, let me make mention of something here. The approach you use in sourcing for regular employees is not the same approach you use in sourcing for co-founders. This is a mistake that some founders make.
You do not place “job vacancies” for co-founders. You go out and source them out, and you do so at places where co-founders spend their time. CoFoundersLab.com is a good place to start. And if these tips worked for you, please come back and let me know.
I wish you all the best as you go about wooing a technical co-founder for your startup. Good Luck!
What about you? Have you had any experience in sourcing for technical co-founders?
Or do you have some tips to share?
Please share in the comment section below. Thanks!