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Archive for August, 2014

4 reasons why you shouldn’t be looking for a technical co-founder

Through my involvement at the EPITA school of CS engineering, I regularly receive (and gladly respond to) requests to help early-stage startups on their technical strategy. Last year, I published on the StartUp42 blog 7 tips to find your technical co-founder in Paris. This year, I thought it would be interesting to share reasons why you shouldn’t be looking for a technical co-founder.

1/ Many great web startups have been founded by non-tech people

Among the companies that successfully outsourced development in their early stages are Amazon.com, AirBnb or Alibaba. Actually, most e-commerce startups, from Ventes-privées to Net-à-porter, were founded by people who knew about fashion and retail but nothing about tech.

2/ Great technical co-founders are hard to find

The guy (gal) you’re looking for has to be entrepreneurial enough so he’s not already working for IBM or Accenture (or, God forbid, Google), but not enough entrepreneurial so he’s already working on his idea. And given the shortage of good engineers (especially in Paris), I can assure you that you’ll have to be super dedicated, convincing and lucky (at the same time) to find

3/ Equity is not salary

Most first-time entrepreneurs start without much money and usually cannot afford to pay a lead developer a fair salary. So it’s always very tempting to give away equity (which is virtually free at the beginning of the company) instead of cash. While it’s very clear for founders that their startup is going to be the next big thing, developers usually tend to trust more present value. Furthermore, keep in mind that giving away equity represent a long-term commitment, not just a reward. You don’t want to be stuck in your series A funding chasing a signature from someone who developed your MVP and is now somewhere traveling around Africa.

4/ It’s never been so easy to build your MVP

Assuming of course you’re not building the next robotics or big data startup. When it comes to straight-forward projects like e-commerce, webzines or mobile apps, you have now a lot of (free) tools at your disposal to at least build your first prototype. CMS like WordPress or Drupal are as easy as it gets to install and, if you don’t like their standard designs, there are millions available on platforms like themeforest. When it comes to mobile apps, sketching software balsamiq is your best friend. With your first website or app design on hand, it’s much easier to convince friends and family to get your initial funding (and pay a real developer) or convince someone to work for you at a much lower cost (at least at the beginning).