As you begin the journey toward launching your own startup, it’s easy to feel like every decision is monumentally important. While it’s true that many of the details you’re tempted to obsess over can be left for another day, one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make as an entrepreneur is who to partner with at the most senior levels of your organization.
In the modern economy, your technical co-founder or chief technical officer (CTO) is likely to be the most essential component of your company’s development, especially if you’re planning on entering a high-tech industry.
3 Reasons You Need a Technical Co-Founder
- All modern companies are tech companies: With the digital revolution well and truly completed, there are few industries left that don’t depend heavily on technology in order to operate successfully. Those remaining examples typically fall into the category of “old school” service-oriented companies, like a nanny agency or plumber’s company that simply needs a bare bones website to advertise its services and list contact information. Most other companies will rely on some sort of critical technological infrastructure in order to operate, whether that infrastructure involves inventory management, data analysis, advanced module-driven websites or more. Ask yourself if any part of your operations will rely on the use of something more complicated than a basic website that would fit within a WordPress template — if the answer is yes, then it’s very likely that you need a tech co-founder or CTO.
- It’s about more than the skill-set: It’s important to remember that you’re not partnering with a technology expert for their own skills in web design or coding — you’re partnering with them to gain access to their knowledge of the entire technical field. You need to be able to rely on your technology partner to oversee the development of your technology infrastructure from top to bottom — from the details of your networking architecture all the way up to grand strategies for your company’s overall technology philosophy.
- Invest in knowledge now to safeguard future gains: A knowledgeable tech co-founder can also help guide your business model as it matures into reality, pointing out plans that will be unfeasible or uneconomical, identifying areas of concern, and ensuring that you’re building a foundation that can scale up in the event that your business is wildly successful. You’ve likely heard that most startups will fail within their first year, but it’s equally true that many young companies find early success, then discover that they haven’t built a foundation that’s stable or flexible enough to scale up and capitalize on that success. In all such scenarios, you’ll need to be able to rely on an expert partner to help guide your choices and avoid common mistakes.
4 Best Ways to Find a Technical Co-Founder for Your Startup
- Professional networking platforms: In most cases, you’ll rely on your existing professional network in order to find a partner with the breadth of experience required to be your technical co-founder. Fortunately, in today’s world it’s fairly easy to build an extensive network using tools like LinkedIn.
- Industry-specific communities: Many tech professionals participate in online communities where they’re open to startup pitches. Ask your local contacts what’s popular in your area, or start with more generally oriented networks like the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s platform.
- Personal social media: Reach out to people you know and have worked with in the real world via Facebook and Twitter to make them aware that you’re seeking a technical partner for a new venture, then ask them to spread the word on your behalf. In many cases, you can even pay for an advertisement that the platform will promote to people in your social network.
- Tech seminars: If you live near an urban center, a variety of tech seminars are likely held throughout the year. Search local newspapers and websites to find one, then arrive prepared to network with prospective partners. First impressions are crucial, so it’s best to assemble something like an investor’s pitch package to present to your prospective co-founders. Start with an “elevator pitch” that distills the core concept for your startup into a spiel you can reel off in under 30 seconds, then be prepared with a longer presentation going into the details of your idea and plans for how it can grow into a larger successful business.
Best Options If You Can’t Find a Technical Co-Founder
In many cases, entrepreneurs find that they’re simply unable to make contact with a suitable partner and co-founder, either because their professional network isn’t extensive enough or because their business plans aren’t advanced enough to attract the necessary talent.
- Outsource: Countless companies offer outsourced technology consulting services, and many of them specialize in helping new business owners develop and optimize startup business plans.
- Hire remotely: It’s also possible to hire a part-time or conditional CTO who works remotely, letting you capitalize on their knowledge and expertise without having to pay for office space or physical relocation. In such a case it may be a good idea to post standard job listings on tech-specific sites like Dice, Underdog.io and TripleByte.
By leveraging all of the professional and personal networks you have access to, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find good prospects for technical partnerships. With carefully tuned “elevator pitches” and a compelling detailed presentation for your business plan, you should be able to entice talented professionals to consider joining your team.
Whatever your choice of venue for finding a partner, the most important factor is to ensure you have somebody to rely on for technical expertise as you build your business. Whether you engage in a full partnership with a technical co-founder or hire an outsourced CTO as required, a properly experienced technology expert will help guide your startup to future success.