If you want a technical co-founder, show them you’re serious first.

December 7, 2012

Like other technical people I know,  I often get a pitch from someone regarding an idea they have.  They tell me how amazing their idea is (sometimes it is), and how they are looking for a technical co-founder to build the product so they be gazillionaires.

Their pitch is great, the targeted market is good, the product seems feasible, and they have some friends who would be strategic advisers.

So after the show and dance, they wait for me to say “Wow! that’s an amazing idea, when do we start?”.

But I don’t.  I don’t take them seriously.

Why not?  Because they haven’t proven to me that they have the vision and ability to make it happen.

Technical co-founders have to spend weeks, if not months, putting something together – dedicate quite a bit of time upfront – and these presentations aren’t enough in my opinion to show you can walk the walk.

So I came up with a very simple solution.  I give them homework.

Here is a typical example:

(presentation ends)

Them: “So what do you think?”

Me: “Looks great <insert name here>.  So when are you going to have a mock up ready?”

Them: “What? What mock up?”

Me: “Well, before you even want to consider developing, you definitely want to take the time and envision your product.  You know, mock up a fake version of your application so that people can play with it.  See how it feels and works.”

Them: “Oh.  Don’t you need technical knowledge for that?”

Me: “Nope.  You just need to know what you want – maybe some designer advice as well – and some simple tools to put it together.  There are lots of great tools to help you mock up your website and mobile app”.

Them: “I see.  That’s a good idea.”

Me: “Yeah.  Why don’t you ping me when you’re done with that and we can talk about it”.

(conversation finishes up).

For me, something like this is the minimum i’d expect from a non-technical co-founder – someone who can get this part done at least to some good level without hand holding.  It also shows how serious they are about dedicating time and resources to their idea and their ability to execute.

Fortunately or unfortunately, no one has managed to complete it so far.

Time saved for everyone.