(Got a startup question? Ask it at AskBob and I’ll take a stab at it. And if it’s a question that other startup founders are asking, look for it as a post here.)
Gary Ferguson is building a Ruby on Rails xRM solution (stakeforce.com) for organizations who need to track deals but don’t have a funnel/pipeline mentality, like nonprofits.
His top startup problem? Finding development resources, and whether he should go public with the details of his idea or hold them close until at least the beta is done and out?
Ideas, Cofounders and Belief
I’m assuming bottom line you’re looking for a developer cofounder, and that’s a very different situation than just finding a good developer you can hire. Being cofounders is a major, serious relationship: with the right person, it can lead to great things. But if you get into bed with the wrong person, you are going to regret it – big time.
Let me assume that you’ve been working all the non-technical aspects of creating a successful startup, like market discovery, researching and defining a business model, thinking through what differentiates your app from all the other xRM apps out there, etc.
What you need to do now is find another person with the complementary skills you need, who will believe in your vision. And that means you need to communicate that vision, share that idea, as widely as possible. Put another way, your first sale needs to be to a cofounder, and they are not going to just jump because it’s a nice idea. You have to make them a believer.
You need to inspire belief, passion and ambition. Belief – that you bring as much value to the relationship as will your developer cofounder. Passion – because both of you are are going be hammering away for weeks, months, maybe years and you’re both going to have to deeply care about your startup to make it. Ambition – because a good developer wants to work on projects that matter, and that advance their career, and that open new doors of opportunity and makes lots of money!
Something Dave Feinleib mentioned when Pat and I interviewed him would be a great first step for you to finding that technical cofounder: Make a 30 second video explaining what will be different and valuable in the app you want to build, put it up on YouTube and start evangelizing it everywhere you can.
Yes, that means sharing at least the broad outlines of the app you want to build. Ideas for apps is the smallest part of the puzzle. It’s the implementation and execution on that idea that is all-important.
Dave calls making that marketing video a forcing function, and it is. If you’re not willing to do what it takes to make that pitch, how can potential cofounders/mentors/investors take you seriously? They can’t. So make the video! Also, if you haven’t done your research on how to create a partnership agreement that works, definitely get that done too.
With the above said, I’d start by reading this great post from Alain Raynaud, 5 Strategies for Finding the Co-Founder of Your Dreams. Besides being a really nice guy, Alain has been deeply involved in the startup community in the Valley for years, and has built several valuable efforts focusing on connecting founders. He knows whereof he speaks.
Next, you need to get out there and let devs who dream of creating their own startups know what you’re building. Over at Find the Tech Guy, there’s a post with 16 ways to tackle this problem, plus Find the Tech Guy’s own take on the problem. Also check out TechCoFounder, where you can filter developers by skills, then make your pitch.
There are a lot of sites, venues, conferences, events, meetups worldwide where you can go cofounder hunting nowadays – it’s a huge unmet need after all! But the ammo you need to make that first sale to a cofounder is a combination of earnestness of intent and near-messianic zeal that your idea can change the world combined with doing the hard uncomfortable for most of us of putting yourself out there. Do that, and you will succeed.