Finding cofounders · Technical co-founder

What are the top 5 questions to ask a potential technical co-founder from a founder who comes from a non-technical background?

Jayson Frazer

Last updated on August 3rd, 2017

Ok, so there might be more than five, just want to seek some feedback on seeking the right technical person when you're not a developer.

Richard Strickland Interested in building businesses around chat bots and IOT

August 1st, 2017

This is a really good question. There are MANY facets to a tech partner. These are dictated by all the different viewpoints from which they will be judged: the investor, the partner, the banker, the customer, the buyer (of the business), their directs, their teams, the security expert - all have different criteria on which they will judge the technical quality of your product and your leadership team. I think what is key is that you find somebody who is more a technical product manager and not one who is actually going to be writing the code. This is an innate challenge for tech startups since the tech partner is very often a technician who has a bright idea (read: The E-Myth (Gerber)). The two roles are distinct and if you try to synthesize the two for too long you will suffer (believe me I have tried). You want somebody who has run a few Agile projects as a team lead or manager. Experience with vendors is a plus.

1) have you ever successfully taken a product from napkin to market? Have you tried and failed? What did you learn?

2) what is your process to continually refine and minimize your MVP?

3) how do you keep your team focused (avoid distractions and bunny trails as you/your team implements)

4) what is your process for evaluating technical risk and mitigating that risk?

5) what is your process for building and leading a team of highly intelligent, highly opinionated tech pro's. How do you mentor, sustain and grow them through the gruelling early phases of a company?

Notice that items 1-5 require somebody with a demonstrated high capacity for focus and leadership. My 2 cents. Let me know your thoughts and DM me if you like. I am here to network. Good luck!

Nishant Shukla CEO of crestinfotech

August 4th, 2017

Check his/her technical and communication skills in live video call. Ask him for equity or compensation.

You can ask them for similar past work and also about the 'way' they are working.

Stephen Ferrando Cofounder and CEO of International Designs

August 4th, 2017

Ask for references. Don't just ask the references about the prospects technical abilities ask what he/she is like to work with on a day to day basis. It is my experience that often times very strong technologists can be difficult to work with (especially if you don't have a technical background)

With 17 years experience as a technical co-founder on various projects, the best collection of tips I'd give as a developer is:

1. They are only as good as their last project - it should always be their best work. Find out if they think it is, if not, find out why.

2. Technical skill-sets are easy to install in a developer with the right training investment so a secondary focus is not technical evaluation; I'd recommend measuring uphow well you gel in person in the same room (even if remote working).

3. Third indicator I'd recommend is creativity and ability to collaborate - is the developer just a script monkey that take instruction? - or are they going to help create, invent, inspire, bounce ideas off, co-create with energy and enthusiasm.

4. Good developers also got there by making lots of mistakes (so you don't have to of course!) so I'd expect transparency and honesty of some brilliant human error stories recalled with a positive focus on having learnt.

5. Do they have existing employment or work commitments. If they are involved in developing intellectual property with you then being in any employment contract may see a legitimate claim by their employer on things they helped to create. Ask to check any existing contracts for inventions and intellectual property clauses and get it in writing if they say they do not. These low-laying threats have been a real pain for me on several projects being unable to work with really great people.

I hope that helps someone looking for a co-founding developer and if you are looking for one, I'm seeking new opportunities to cultivate.

Matiss Founding angel, Picoff Ventures,

Last updated on August 1st, 2017

Here's a couple.

  1. What will you do to help us build technological advantage?
  2. How will you identify issues we have and that we do not know about?
  3. What are you going to do about it?
  4. What bothers you about what we are doing?
  5. Tell me about time when someone from team you worked with/managed/etc did something great?

I recommend you you to not focus so much on the technical side as on who the person is, who are you looking to have working with you.

Are you looking to have a tech superstar who only speaks l33t? Or are you looking for someone who has experience in tech, and experience in management, and who is shown to know what the hell they are doing. I assume the last.

There are no correct answers to these. But I am pretty sure you will recognize good ones when you hear them.

That being said, the only viable way to evaluate someone is to look at their work. You can ask about past projects, what exactly the person contributed, and why. The next best step is to try it out, and see where it goes.

Joseph Wang Chief Science Officer at Bitquant Research Laboratories

August 9th, 2017

1) Show me some products that you have done.

2) Tell me about yourself

3) What do you think about our company

4) Explain to me X (where X is some random technical term)

5) What did you have for lunch?

5) is an example of social small talk and this turns out to be important for a co-founder.