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Why you can’t find a Tech Co-Founder

Louis Sayers is a Growth Hacker at Forward Labs, where he works across numerous startups to improve user acquisition, retention and value. MakersAcademy.com is an example of the type of company Louis works with to help drive growth.

Let’s face it. Startups are the ‘in’ thing right now. You want one, I want one, and we’ve all got ideas for what the next big thing is – we just need a developer right?

Having been to many startup events and having organised one myself, I can tell you this. There is no shortage of demand for developers. The only problem is that finding a developer in this landscape is hard – and finding a decent developer is even harder! It’s basic supply and demand.

The other problem is our frame of mind when thinking about this stuff. We talk about developers as if they’re a commodity that we purchase from the local corner shop (except we often want them for free…), and this is just plain wrong. Developers are mostly really smart people that have their own dreams and desires, their own side projects, and no spare capacity to make your dream come true.

All hope is not lost however. Here are a few tips for getting a developer on your side, and turning your ideas into reality:

Make friends, not pitches

The problem with pitching your idea to a developer is that they’ve heard it before. Maybe not your exact pitch, but they’ve most likely been approached by a number of people that have this “awesome idea”, and they “just need a developer”.

Instead of pitching to them, make friends with them. Grab a beer, organise a paintball session, and listen to what’s happening in their world of code. What you’ll find is that developers have developer friends, and once you’re in their crowd, you’ll have a much better shot of getting something off the ground.

Create ideas together

You probably think that your idea is the best thing since sliced bread. What’s really important though is to turn your idea into reality. The best way to do this is to not make it your idea, but to make it ‘our’ idea.

Ask developers for help, or for their thoughts on an idea. Make a session out of it and brainstorm together. Use ‘we’ and ‘our’ when talking about things instead of ‘my’ and ‘mine’.

Paint a picture, and tell people about it

Great sales people paint a picture of how bad life currently is, and how much better they’re going to make it. To get others interested in what you’re doing, you’re going to need to paint that picture, and you’ll need an audience to show it to.

Tell everyone about what you’re doing – get used to talking, go to meetup groups and demo your progress thus far. If you’re serious about your idea you’ll get started on it with or without a developer. Do customer development, prototype your idea using tools like balsamiq, proto.io, and show the world what you’re about. The next thing you know, someone will make an introduction, and you’ll be one step closer to making your dream come true.

One last thing… if you’re like me and you come up with ideas all the time, you might want to consider learning how to create the first versions of your ideas yourself. There are plenty of online materials and courses available. If you really want a leg up though check out MakersAcademy.com – doing a course like this will give you all the coding skills needed to kick off your ideas in just 10 weeks.

  • http://profiles.google.com/hidalgo.marchione Fernando Hidalgo Marchione

    Are you making friends to find a developer? That’s so sad… Try to pay a developer, usually it works pretty well. If you also share the same idea with the developer, give him a generous share of the business, that works also. Both together are the best option to have a rocket scientist developing cool stuff.

    Buy please.. don’t try to “make friends” with a developer just to have stuff developed for free, it is so sad…

    • Louis Sayers

      Developers are people, and people have friends. It just so happens that many people don’t have developer friends. I’m not saying use and abuse people for their programming skills. I’m saying that you should make friends with people around a common interest – which is programming. Many friendships are after all created around common interests.

  • Sceptical

    The developers who built the original version of my idea had about 15 years’ coding experience as well as a degree in computer science.

    The ludicrous claims by the likes of Makersacademy that they remove the need to find a technical co-founder do the start-up community a great disservice. Ignore these claims and find someone who’ll help give your idea the best shot, not act as a guinea pig for your baby steps steps in code.

    • Louis Sayers

      The idea with Makers Academy isn’t that you’ll be able to build a huge complex system yourself. The idea is that you’ll be able to build the first prototypes.

      It’s not that you remove the need to get a technical co-founder, but more that you can postpone this need until a later stage.

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