Running a startup isn’t easy, but for individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit, finding unique solutions to consumer issues is their calling. However, attempting to run a startup on your own isn’t the smartest idea – particularly if you don’t have the technical skills to boot.
But there are plenty of other reasons why you’d want a coding cofounder, too. For starters, investors tend to lean towards funding companies managed by a team, rather than a solo person.
Furthermore, coding co-founders can leverage the latest trends and technologies to really grow your startup, like a Helm repository and Git.
“I don’t have a co-founder to help with major decisions or even minor ones. Many prospective investors and partners didn’t take me seriously without a technical co-founder,” said Alex Turnball, founder of Groove.
“Being a single founder (without the emotional support of someone sharing your journey) is lonely to an extent that has real business implications.”
Burnout can happen quickly when the foundation of a startup rests on the shoulders of a single person. And in addition to having higher chances of support from investors, you’ll also have someone there to assist with smart decision-making. And of course, you’ll share responsibility and complement each other’s skillset.
Taking these factors into consideration, here are some tips for finding the right programming cofounder for your startup:
Avoid hiring a Freelancer
Startup companies running on a lean budget may feel inclined to hire freelancers, rather than take the time to bring an official, salaried employee on board. This is because they don’t feel as though they can offer the same perks that another more reputable company can offer.
But the fact is, a freelance developer doesn’t feel accountable for the long-term success of a business the same way a co-founder does. And that accountability is important. Freelancers also aren’t always a part of the company culture, which is critical in today’s business landscape.
Look in the right places
Now that you’ve decided to take the leap and hire a technical co-founder, where do you start? This can be troubling for many founders. Start by creating a spreadsheet with everyone you know that has been interested in coding. By starting with a list of people in your personal sphere of connections, you’ll feel more confident about your decision making.
Reaching out to these people to see where they are professionally and talk to them about your startup is also a good practice.
The more people you talk to, the more you’ll learn about how to conduct these types of interviews, and you’ll learn more about programming along the way. Sort through your LinkedIn and social platforms to gather a comprehensive list of names.
You should also head to Meetup.com and look for local tech and startup meetups. These events are breeding grounds for startup founders and programming enthusiasts. Often, you’ll run into a versatile group of passionate people who are all working on different projects.
These communities tend to be open-minded and welcoming, and the more often you show up and network, the more likely you are to build long-lasting, potentially lucrative business relationships.
Create a panel for the recruitment process
As a non-technical founder, it’s important that you hire the right technical individual for the position, but it’s impossible to hire the right person if you don’t know anything about programming. For this reason, put together a panel of interview participants who are well-versed in different programming languages.
You can ask around or post an ad on a job board. This could be a quick way for a professional developer who’s already employed to make some quick side questions by assisting you as you sort through your talent pool.
Look beyond the resume
When you’re searching for a cofounder, their resume, cover letter, and portfolio are the first items you analyze. However, these educational qualifications and bullet point successes aren’t the only important factors.
For example, let’s say Person A took extensive online Python courses, is eager to make a difference, and passionate about their programming language. Person B studied computer science at an Ivy League school, and feels confident they can get a job anywhere.
As a founder, it’s important for you to seek out a mixture of passion and qualification. In this case, although Person B has a renowned school on their resume, Person A might work better for your company culture and will dedicate all their time to developing innovative solutions.
One report from Stack Overflow found that 90% of professional developers learned a programming language that wasn’t a part of their academic curriculum.
Today, a large number of developers are self-taught; a traditional HR screener might eliminate them from the candidate pool simply because they don’t meet the standard qualifications. But as a startup company, you’re not looking for the standard. Keep this in mind as you sift through candidates.