Some Thoughts on Hiring Technical Co-Founders

I reblogged an awesome post last week about how non-technical founders need to step thinking about “finding” a technical co-founder and “earning” a technical co-founder.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and talking to Jason Jacobs at RunKeeper this afternoon, I realized that there is another equally important issue that gets overlooked in this discussion.

Too much time to spent focused on the TECHNICAL and not enough on the CO-FOUNDER

I think when most non-technical entrepreneurs think about finding a technical co-founder, what they are really thinking is that they are looking for a technical “resource”.  Someone who can code really fast, make technical decisions without screwing anything up, and look good enough on a powerpoint.  The non-technical founder isn’t really thinking about finding a peer that that hope to go to battle with day-in-day-out, can challenge them appropriately, will enjoy spending 12 hours a day with for years, etc. 

As I reflected on this, I think that the two issues are really linked.  The business founder thinks they want to have a great technical co-founder, but doesn’t believe that he or she can really “earn” one.  After all, why would a rock star technical founder be willing to join a moderately experienced business guy or gal?  So, the business founder sets their sights lower, but also is really on the hunt for a resource as opposed to a killer technical entrepreneur.

I love the thought of “earning” a technical co-founder because it sets the bar higher for everyone.  The business founder does more work to attract a great technical partner, but also will set their standards higher once they really believe that they have created meaningful value on their own.  The technical founder gets to see what the business founder can contribute and can make the tough decision of who to go into battle with for many years as well.

Is this really all just theory?  I think not. I’ve backed many business founders that have had to earn great technical co-founders, but in each case, they were really looking for a founder and not a resource.  Quick examples: Ariel Diaz and Aaron White at Boundless Learning, David Vivero and Kunal Shah at RentJuice, Jordan Cooper and Doug Petkanics at HyperPublic to name a few.  In each case, the technical co-founder was recruited before funding and with the expectation that the founding team will scale and lead their respective companies for years to come. 

That’s what one would look for in a business founder, so why should it be any different when earning a technical co-founder?

Rob Go

Thanks for reading! Here’s a quick background on who I am: 1. My name is Rob, I live in Lexington, MA 2. I’m married and have two young daughters. My wife and I met in college at Duke University - Go Blue Devils! 3. We really love our church in Arlington, MA. It’s called Highrock and it’s a wonderful and vibrant community.  Email me if you want to visit! 4. I grew up in the Philippines (ages 0-9) and Hong Kong (ages 9-17). 5. I am a cofounder of NextView Ventures, a seed stage investment firm focused on internet enabled innovation. I try to spend as much time as possible working with entrepreneurs and investing in businesses that are trying to solve important problems for everyday people.   6. The best way to reach me is by email: rob at nextviewventures dot com