Business Development · Finding cofounders

Should I look for a co-founder?

Jerry Feedler Senior Software Engineer

July 17th, 2019

Hi everyone!

I'm a software engineer who has an idea for a startup. Though I have a clear image of a business I want to launch and I can cover the technical part, my business development skills are quite poor.

So, I need your advice, startupers. Would you recommend me to look for a person with necessary skills or try to learn about the topic on my own and don't trust strangers?


Thank you.

Tatyana Deryugina Founder of academicsequitur.com

July 17th, 2019

It doesn't hurt to look. But I've seen startups fall apart because of incompatibilities between co-founders, so I would be very careful before committing to anyone. Think of it like dating - you shouldn't marry someone you just met. Go out there, meet some people, and if you find someone who seems great, bring them on board. But make sure you agree on a vesting schedule or some other "trial" period so that if it's not working out after, say, six months, you aren't going be stuck with them.


But while you're looking, also work on developing some business skills and validating your idea. The basics are not rocket science. Of course, you want someone who specializes in business development in the long run, but I wouldn't let that stop you from working on your idea in the shorter run.


Chicke Fitzgerald

July 17th, 2019

Jerry - building a business is way different than building a product. You have to be able to convince others to believe in your vision and more importantly to participate in the journey. You absolutely have to have someone that can tell the story and determine what the ideal customer looks like and that they will value what you want to build (marketing), you have to have someone that can convince others to commit to buy and to implement (sales) and you have to have people that can ensure that you have good people, good processes and flawless delivery and operation. You can't do this on your own and you will need to trust others.


You must ensure that you have a way to compensate people while you are in the build phase. You can do that buy raising money from the people who know and believe in you (and trust you) or you can get people to work for future benefit (sweat equity). In either case, walk don't run to the bookstore to buy Slicing Pie by Mike Moyer. Don't build a new company without that.


Good luck.

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business coach

July 17th, 2019

There's some good advice already on the board for you to consider. What I would suggest is at a higher level how you look at your concept. Right now you have a product idea, you do not have a business. You haven't figured out whether your product can actually turn into a business because you have not yet done the required research, tested your assumptions, and assessed your product-market fit.


These are essentials for you to do on your own, because even if you aren't familiar with running a business, to turn an idea into a business requires a large amount of legwork before you recruit others to join you. There's not the bank of business people sitting out there wishing someone had a great idea they could turn into a business. There are however people willing to commit their time and attention to managing a business that at least has thoroughly validated the idea.


So yes, very much you need to learn about the topic of running a business yourself, if for no other reason than you need to know what to expect from someone else managing the business, and whether they're doing it the right way. My suggestion if you're talking about a software product is to do some study of the Lean Startup Methodology. Don't skip steps. Keep walking through the steps on your own until you absolutely hit a wall, and only then consider whether you are ready to find a partner.


You may, through the method, discover that your idea is terrible, needs adjustment, or would work better another way than you imagined. Until then you don't need someone else with business skills. You need your own fundamental understanding of product development.


There are six basic business skills, and no one person ever masters more than two. You will always need help, but whether that's from a partner or an employee or an advisor won't be clear until you figure out your own skills. Software programming is not a business skill. They are in the simplest terms and in order of importance to a startup: marketing, sales, organization, efficiency, people, and leadership.


You could work with a coach or advisor to help you develop your idea, such as through the SCORE organization, at no cost. That will help you learn whether you're ready to run a business. If you're not, then at least you didn't waste a lot of time and money chasing something that won't materialize.

Anuj B. Gopal Serial Entrepreneur, Growth Leader, Venture Builder, Ex-IBMer

July 17th, 2019

Hi Jerry,

Once, I was in similar situation and had made many mistakes. What I've learn that building a technology product is completely different than building a startup venture.


So I would like to suggest you following points from my learning experience:

  1. Plugging startup means getting ready to wear multiple hats. The best way to doing that is learn Product Management first, as it cover all required roles and skill sets to build and launch technical products. It's a generalize role which focus on understanding all stakeholders needs while building successful products. And as a technical co-founder you can acquire this skills easily because Agile, SDLC are the part of it.
  2. Focus on building a team, like what kind of roles and people do you required to role out the first phase of your product? Define a roadmap with clear goal. Always try to measure yours and team efforts, it'll help you in effective resource planing. Use LinkedIn and Angel.co to connect with like minded people.
  3. The good thing is you know your strength and weakness, but you need to upgrade yourself with other essential skill sets like market research, competitive analysis etc. It will help you stay in the top of your game and to see future clearly.
  4. Never sentimentally attached with your idea and venture, it will provoke you to take necessary decisions to grow your venture. I had denied higher valuation deals because investors were looking for higher equity stake. So don't make such mistakes. You're more than your startup or idea. Within your life time you are going to create so many disruptive startups and ideas.
  5. Find the co-founders & advisor those have higher experience and skill sets than you, so that you can learn & level yourself with them. Try to find at least 1 SME of the industry in which you're operating, you will learn lots of new things and loop holes within entire ecosystem.
  6. Don't try to do everything on yourself but acquire the basic knowledge about all important skills like product management, sales, customer support etc. So that no one will make you fool.
  7. Be happy and take proper rest. Building a startup required months of hard/smart work. So give some time to yourself and friends/family. Always remember that being a founder, you are the soul of the startup.

That's all for now.


Please feel free to connect with me if you required further help :)


Anuj


Lisa Cutter Marketing Maven

Last updated on July 17th, 2019

Hi Jerry,


How are you? Great question. I'm going to pose a question back to you as my response.

As a software engineer, if a part of your coding has already been developed elsewhere and you have access to use the code (and tweak it if need be) to work for your needs, thus saving you time, energy, and money, would you do it? Or would you continue developing all parts of the system completely from scratch?

Personally, I believe as long as there is clear communication regarding your business image, messaging, etc., and that the two of you are planning, agreeing to the plan, and implementing the plan together so you're both are always on the same page, you can and should explore the opportunity to bring on a cofounder. Or you can bring in the expertise you need other ways too.

Let me know if you have any other questions on this. Or if you'd just like to chat a little more about your startup, where you're at, where you're looking to be and by when, etc.

Ardian Jashari Entrepreneur, Investor, Freelance Consultant, Communications Expert, Online Business Trainer,

July 19th, 2019

Hi Jerry, I have a short video that can help you with this question.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJu5PToujlw


Jinesh Parekh Looking for sales professionals in US

Last updated on July 25th, 2019

I have been there. I have a different experience though. If this is a B2C product, you might not need as much of business development efforts as you could primarily market through social media and see the traction. I did the same for my product and it really worked out well.


If it is a B2B product, I would think again. How would you approach businesses and do you have any connect? Unless you have a plan on how you will sell with sureity, I would hold off on building the product. As engineers we are good at building things and it becomes hard to show the value to someone else.