Do you need a technical co-founder to build a technology startup?


Find out why bringing on a technical co-founder can lead to a competitive advantage for your startup, and get the inside scoop on where to find the person with the right skills to bring your idea to market.
If you’re thinking about launching a startup but you don’t have a tech background, you might be wondering if you need a technical co-founder.
In my experience as the co-founder of Jellyfish, I’ve discovered that having at least one technical co-founder can lead to a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
I’ve worked with startup organizations founded by people who have never made anything before, and it can be challenging. They have a great idea and terrific business vision but no idea how to bring that vision to life.
The bottom line is that it’s much harder to build a startup without a technical founder — so it’s a good idea to partner with someone if you don’t have those skills.
What should your biggest considerations be if you’re looking for a technical co-founder?
In this article, you’ll learn why you should partner with a technical co-founder in the early stages of your start-up and how you can go about looking for the right fit.

What is a technical co-founder, and why do you need one?

To launch a successful startup, having a brilliant idea is not enough — you need an analytical thinker with deep technical expertise as part of your core founding team.
In your early stage, you’re creating a product from scratch — and if you don’t have a technical background, your co-founder needs to be the builder who helps you do that.
There’s a huge competitive advantage to having a technical co-founder, as well. According to research from First Round, you have a higher chance of bringing your product to market if you have a technical co-founder.
Your tech co-founder will be responsible for the following:
●  Making judgment calls about what to make and what problems to solve
●  Recruiting, managing, and scaling the engineering team
●  Architecture development
●  Implementation planning
●  Building your product strategy
●  Managing the production of your MVP
●  Building your initial tech stack
●  Allocating engineering resources
This individual needs to have the programming skills and expertise to oversee the engineering side of your business and build a product you can bring to market.

Early-stage considerations

In the beginning stages of your startup, every engineer (or maker) on your team[JM1]  should have a product instinct and understand use cases. Good product instinct — understanding what users need and what makes a product great — leads to better decision-making.
However, you don’t need to hire a product manager right out of the gate because your founders are your product team. They set the foundation for your future product hires. When you bring on your first product person, the bones of the product will already be in place.
Your first 10 hires should be builders and sellers. Don’t outsource these important functions — they are critical to laying the foundation for the success of your startup.
Founders should also be able to manage the development team until that group reaches around 10 people and you’re ready to hire your first engineering manager[JM2] .

How to find a technical co-founder

When you’re looking for a technical co-founder, you need to partner with someone you really trust, so take your search seriously.
You wouldn’t “recruit” a spouse or romantic partner, and you can’t recruit a co-founder, either. Like marriages, startup partnerships are built on time and trust. However, there are some things you can do to try to find people you click with.
Start by looking into your past, and seek out people you’ve been in the trenches with in your previous positions. Look for people you’ve worked with in challenging situations because you can trust them when the going gets rough.
If you haven’t worked with someone who’s a fit, here are some other places you can connect with people to partner with:
●  Accelerators and startup incubators: Accelerators like Y Combinator and Techstars are the perfect places to find engineers and makers who can help you build your business. They’re also great places to network with investors and spotlight your company.
●  Networking: Connect with people on social media and at in-person events and meetups to get tied into active communities and ask questions.
●  Hackathons: Hackathons, also known as codefests, are events where designers, programmers, and developers gather together for short periods (typically 24-48 hours) to collaborate on projects.
You can also use these methods to recruit and hire early-stage engineers and leverage your initial period of working together to build a long-term co-founding partnership.

Bringing it all together

Not only is it easier to convince investors to back your startup idea when you have a technical co-founder, but it also makes your life easier in so many ways. A technical co-founder will not only help you simplify the operational and financial aspects of creating your startup, but they’ll also be the person who brings your great idea to life.
Here are the top considerations when you’re looking for a technical co-founder:
●  Your co-founders are your first product people — so you don’t need to hire a product manager when your team is smaller than 10 people
●  Your technical co-founder will also handle the management of your initial development team until you’re ready to hire your first engineering manager
●  When you’re looking for a technical co-founder, start by looking into your past and seeking out the people you’ve been in the trenches with before
●  If you can’t find someone you’ve worked with before, expand your search by getting active on social media and networking with potential co-founders at accelerators, incubators, in-person events, and hackathons

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