So what interests me about this question is that there is often times a demand for more complex programming structures than can be executed by a first time programmer although the founder is green. Because of this, there must be a quite substantial demand for qualified technical cofounders. I was wondering what kind of propositions would encourage an experienced programmer to team up with a less experienced cofounder despite the gap.
- A clear vision of what your product is and is not.
- Ability to articulate that vision in a very clear way.
- Ability to argue your point when met with push-back.
- Ability to discard ideas that don't hold water even if you're very passionate about them.
As per my experience you do not want to start working with some CTO who claimed to be qualified and highly experience. Some people are good at selling themselves. Understanding that the partner have less technical experience can become an advantage to this, possible CTO, which can lead to more control in his hands.
I would suggest you can work with highly skilled and efficient technical architect on freelance basis. What are the advantage of working freelance basis
You will understand how good is he solving the problem.
How well is at communication and understand the requirement.
Is he showing interest in your product.
Is he a team player?
Once you know the person very well and find him trust worthy then you can make an offer he cant deny. Because he already know the team, product and you know what value he can add to your company.
I hope this helps.
Let me start by saying that there is a HUGE difference between an "experienced programmer/engineer" and a "CTO." A CTO can anticipate problems with scale, security, etc., of the entire system, whereas an experienced programmer is typically concerned with a piece of it. In addition, an experienced CTO understands stages of development and scaling, meaning s/he knows when a piece of system can be "duct-taped" and when it needs to be replaced/re-written entirely. Another significant difference is that CTOs make a buy-vs-make decision with an eye on the business, whereas that is not always true with engineers. Finally, your CTO has to be your best Sales Engineer - s/he is the one that needs to stand before major customers and respond to technical objections.
As to what would entice them to team up with an entrepreneur, I can only speak for myself. I would need to see that you understand your market and know your numbers - who else is in the market, what's it worth, what is the strategy to penetrate the market, what's the differentiation, and what's the exit plan and its projected timing.
Main things I have found very useful in deciding if its worth pursuing:
1. What do you bring to the table - are you bringing ability to raise money, sell the product or some special industry knowledge that’s not common knowledge.
2. Ability to hustle - evidence would be what have you done so far with the idea. If only thing you have done is waiting for somebody to build it for you, its not a good sign.
3. ideally I want my cofounder to be able to sell. If not somebody else in the team should be able to sell.
4. Some initial funding to market the product when its built before looking for outside money
5. How likely are you going to get external funding once the product is done and some traction can be proven
6. Can work on the startup full time once its built? How long you can go without salary?
7. Do I like having a beer with you?
Good luck with your endeavors.
In no particular order, a combination of:
_ They bring value - if they bring nothing to the table, then why bother
_ Ability to execute - Even if the person is brilliant, if they are tied up/ busy, the person is not really bringing anything to the table
_ Good idea that makes sense and has potential - clarity of vision is important. It does not have to be a complete vision from day 1 but they have to have to have a general idea of what they want and make sense
_ Being trust worthy - No one wants to put in a huge effort and get nothing in return, no matter how good the idea is
_ Quick on their feet - Some people are really smart but will keep going in the same direction even if they are wrong... so did the titanic.
- The idea should be crazy enough and should target at substantial market size.
- I would expect my co-founder to match my performance in ability to do his part and I mean to be able to articulate his idea to co-founders, customers and investors, learning things quickly, recognizing mistakes and pivoting fast.
- Also, personalities and values should somewhat match. Me personally, I would rather work with person who is passionate about an absolutely crazy idea rather than one who promises to make us rich.
- As technical person I would want project to be technically interesting and technologically challenging. I like to try new ideas and there should be room for that.
I have three things that make me pass the sniff test before I engage.
1. First and foremost: PEOPLE. The founder(s) have to be solid, trustworthy and accountable people with a good background and are willing to put the time and effort into the company; They also have to have a skillset I don't have, meaning, they need to come to the table with skills and experience that compliments mine. They also need to have a solid track record of execution or at least present a case that they can execute with this product / vision
2. The vision and product idea. It's something that has to be interesting, hopeful and more importantly possible. I mean "possible" in that the idea has to be tested and proven to a point where I feel it's worth the effort to build something (even if it's an MVP or Prototype). Solid customer development is key where you test the market to get an idea if your product is going to successful. Let the customers tell you what they want, you can't tell the customer...
3. Funding -- is there funding lined up? Is the funding network there? Does the other founder have the ability to put together a solid pitch deck to present the product and vision in front of investors, or be able to network and get in front of people to hear the pitch.