Looking to Partner Up August 20, 2020

How to get a technical co-founder

Hide Shidara @catsarebetter98

I'm a developer, worked at Indeed and Instacart. I'm pretty good at what I do and I get recruited a lot. Here's are some basic mistakes that I've seen and some tips that I think that non-technical people can use to recruit a technical person.


  1. Tricking me
    Oh boy this is a big one. A lot of people underestimate how critical engineers think and how easily we can sense bullshit. If you're in marketing or in sales, you tend to be pretty flexible in how you pitch ppl. But engineers are people with rigid and stubborn values. Not morals necessarily, values. Coupled with high egos, if we see that you change your pitch on us like 3-4 times during a conversation, that gets interpreted as tricking us. Don't do it. Have a strong sense of your own values, write them down and stick to them. Don't just try to make the sale happen with every engineer. Find the right engineer for you.

  2. "I can handle the business side"
    If you say this to me, goodbye. If you show me this attitude, conversation's over. Engineers tend to be treated like tools in the industry, from job search and in the job, restricting what we can do to just coding. It's a long fight to get to the point where we can breathe and do the things we want to work on, to have responsibility and leadership. If an engineer is looking to join a startup or found one, this feeling is so strong that we would rather throw away our $300k packages (yup that parts true) and make no money for years. We want to learn the marketing, the business. We want the leadership and responsibility. Don't promise to take that away from us.

  3. Recruiting me when I don't want to be recruited, where I don't want to be recruited
    Recruiting me over Linkedin is a terrible idea. Simply b/c if you found me on Linkedin, I'm probably focusing on my career in industry. If that's the case, I either really like my job or I value money more than side projects. If you can offer me more of either of those, go for it. But if you're reading this on IH, you probably can't. So don't recruit on LI. Seriously, stop. Please.

  4. Ghosting me or treating me poorly
    Engineers tend to be used to poor treatment, from peers and esp. from non-engs. But I tend to get ghosted or just have very negative interactions with people who are shopping founders. This is recruitment 101, don't do it.

From an engs perspective, I get recruited from companies offering me insane amounts of money and benefits and I still won't give them a second chance if they ghost me or lie to me.

Can you offer anything even remotely close compared to that? If you can't, you better be a YC Partner or someone with similar clout. Like @csallen or @damon can ghost me all day I'll still respond to them in 1 min.

  1. No long-term commitment to any sort of relationship
    This ties in from the previous point, people tend to just be shopping around at that moment. Why not just commit to being friends? This behavior of shopping around makes engs feel used. I won't go into the psychology of why that's not good to make someone feel used but just don't be that girl/guy.

Some tips

  1. Offer long-term friendship
    This is a lonely road, don't tell me you can't use more friends? Engs tend to be not well socialized and introverted, just straight up say "I just want to be friends, check in now and then and just shoot the sh*t, is that cool?" I'd say yes to that.

  2. Offer powerful, unfair advantages
    Here's a few:
    a. Strong network: either you've been in YC, went to Stanford, even if you can show that Rob Walling follows you on Twitter. You have powerful people that are willing to do stuff for you.

b. You have an audience that's bought software from you before. You have an email list, rolodex, or phone numbers of people that have bought software from you. It doesn't even have to be software, it can be an ebook, email course, just something where you have their trust.

c. You know how to growth hack. This one is a little harder to prove and engs tend to be a little skeptical about this, but for the engs that understand the value of it and the ppl who are willing to teach them, it's incredibly valuable.

  1. You've solved a problem for them already
    I'm an analytics guy, so I build tooling for chatbots and customer support/sales. Some of my weaknesses are content marketing and SEO. Other classic eng struggles include: high-touch sales ie. cold-calling, low-touch sales ie. SEO, any kind of sales ie. talking to people. Marketing, growth hacking, and networking tend to be tough for me as well as other eng friends. If you cold call me and say "I noticed you're trying to blog or trying to do content marketing on IH but you suck, here's some strategies that I got from other people and/or myself, no expectations", that's interesting.
    Or maybe, "here's some distribution channels that you can use to get customers", or even "here's some interesting articles about the niche you're trying to serve, I'll send you more next week". All great starts.

For any other questions or feedback, please reach out [email protected]. Like I said, let's be friends :).

  1. 2

    what an incredible post. I am not technical, but love technology and want to build a startup. This is incredible insight into the mind of a talented engineer.

  2. 2

    Sorry for ghosting, I will blame my toddler daughter. She occupies most of my time in the day🤣 wfh with kid is a touch one😩

    1. 2

      Haha nah that part was more of a joke lol

  3. 1

    Thanks for this! You make the prospect of finding a tech partner feel much more approachable.

    What do you think about a situation where the non-tech partner is learning enough code to make a prototype, but needs a pro to make it market-worthy. Can a connection develop between a designer who understands the essence of code, and a pro who understands the practice?

    1. 1

      I would say that you would be surprised how low the bar for "market-worthy" is, even in industry. For side projects, the bar is even lower. I think that's great a non-tech partner is learning to code, that really shows s/he is serious.

      Could I get a bit more context around the situation? Maybe what's being built, what the end goal is, etc.

  4. 1

    +1 for the point of building long-term friendship. As an introverted eng, I'm curious what people do to facilitate a long-term relationship with other IH/makers, or even how to make connection without any context.

    1. 2

      I don't think there's a secret, just reach out and don't be shy and see who you vibe with. Why don't you email me and let's set up a call?

      1. 1

        well, actually there's a secret - just be helpful

        yeah, that simple.

        if you can provide value without asking anything in return, you already set yourself apart from the rest. and it does facilitate a long-term relationship.

        1. 1

          Well I think the ask was about friendship, not business transaction. So the answer was more geared toward that. I don't think of value the same way when I'm doing things for friends vs business partners and I think there are many who are the same.

          But yeah, for potential business partners, ofc. Though everyone who's cold called me so far gdi hasn't done that. I even left a friggin list smh 🤦‍♂️.

          1. 1

            haha, frigging list sounds interesting, but don't take it to heart man :)

            normally, that's what the majority of people do - just want to get smth.

            so what you're struggling with right now?

            1. 1

              It's cool, Ive kind of gotten used to it. I'm sure I'm the same way when I'm cold calling customers and leads.

              Not much, just doing my thing.

              Would love to hear about what ur working on and any way I can help, please send me an email!

  5. 1

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