Why I won't help you find a technical co-founder

As an entrepreneur, one of the things I learned early on is that most startup communities have a pay it back mentality. When I started CPUsage, I was welcomed with open arms by founders that had come before me. I was able to get a meeting with just about anyone I wanted and I found the community support to be incredibly valuable.

Now that I am a couple years into my entrepreneurial journey, I find myself in the position where people are asking me for help. I am not only happy to take a meeting, I am proud to. Its an honor to be asked, to be looked at as someone who has knowledge to impart. I also do it because someone else did it for me, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without their time.

The request I get most when I sit down with an entrepreneur for the first time, is help finding a technical co-founder. Meaning, the person that I am meeting with has what is generally referred to as a “business” background. Finance, sales, operations, customer service, whatever. For a tech startup, thats not enough. You also need someone that knows technology. Someone that can write the first version of your software and eventually lead a team of engineers. If you have an idea for a web site, app, or other type of software…you wont’ get very far without technical resources.

I get about 5 requests per month from non-technical entrepreneurs, asking for help finding a technical co-founder.

Unfortunately for them, technical folks are in high demand. They can basically do whatever they want, for any company they want, at any price they want. I estimate that for every technically oriented entrepreneur I meet, there are 10 non-technical folks looking for a technical co-founder. The chances you’ll find one, with our without my help, are slim. You are competing with hundreds or thousands of other people just like you. Good luck.

Starting today, I am going to save both of us time. I won’t help you find a technical co-founder. I’ll do something better. I’m going to encourage you to learn to code. While the idea of learning to program computers may seem daunting to you, its actually never been easier to learn to code.

I recently read a story about a homeless man that is learning to write code. After just 4 weeks, he was almost ready to publish his first application. This man is homeless. No money, no roof over his head, none of the comforts you likely have.

What’s your excuse?

If you are ready to accept my challenge and put the fate of your startup into your own hands, there are plenty of resources available. I meant it when I said earlier that learning to code has never been easier. Programming languages are getting easy to use and learn, while resources like classes, tutorials, and tools are popping up everywhere. Most of these resources are free.

I suggest getting started with Codeacademy. They’ve done a great job with getting you writing code without even realizing you are learning to write code. Its totally free. Then, check out some of the classes offered by Udacity and Coursera….these are free classes from major universities like Stanford. At Udacity, Computer Science 101 will teach you to write a web crawler. At Coursera you will learn to build computer games. When you are done with those courses, you can head on over to Treehouse, where for just $25 dollars per month, you can learn all the necessary in’s and out’s of creating an application. Design, user interaction, everything from soup to nuts. Seriously, $25 a month. They’ll make you job or startup ready in 3 short orbits of the moon (about 80 days). Compare that to college tuition.

I am serious, you have no excuse. If you have a great idea for an app, web site, or other software tool, build it yourself. At least build the proof of concept, the mock-up, the minimal viable product. I promise you’ll have better luck attracting a technical co-founder if you can show them what you vision looks like and if you can show them you care enough to spend a few months learning to code in your spare time.

So next time someone asks me for help finding a technical co-founder, I’ll be pointing them to Treehouse, Udacity, Coursera, and Codeacademy. Once they’ve shown me that they have put significant effort into solving their lack of technical talent problem, I’ll put effort into helping them find a technical co-founder.

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