Many technology based startups are founded by entrepreneurs without technical backgrounds.
The tech companies that are successful,
quickly realize the importance of bringing on a technical co-founder.
The biggest mistake that a non-tech entrepreneur can make when launching a tech business is to neglect bringing on a tech savvy co-founder very early on. Otherwise, it is like launching a bakery or restaurant without a chef.
The benefits of having a CTO as part of your founding team are extensive:
The biggest challenge with finding a qualified CTO (i.e. experienced developers and/or engineers with strong project management skills) is that they are in high demand and have many employment options in front of them.
Below are a few tips to help you successfully recruit a CTO co-founder:
- Be a leader. Whether you are bringing on a CTO co-founder, an investor, or an employee, people like to rally behind leaders. Your passion for your product, your financial and time commitment to your company, and your ultimate belief in the solution that you offer will go further towards rallying people for your cause than anything else.
- Demonstrate the opportunity. Surely a co-founder wants to be compensated for their work, either in equity, salary, or a combination of both. However, a co-founder is more interested in the potential impact the company can have. Similar to investors, co-founders want to know that your product solves a major problem in the marketplace, that you are differentiated from your competition, and that you have tested and proved your assumptions. In many ways, your business plan is as useful of a tool for attracting talented team members as it is for attracting investment.
- Constantly be searching. Similar to applying for jobs, you cannot leave any stone unturned when searching for a co-founder. Start by leveraging your LinkedIn network. First, look for people in your network that might be potential candidates. Next, look into your network’s network and ask for introductions to potential candidates. You can also look into sites that match entrepreneurs with sought after talent such as Startup Agents or CoFounders Lab. Lastly, attend as many startup networking events, meetups, and conferences as possible. You never know who will be that next person you exchange business cards with.
- Define Your Criteria and Evaluate Candidates. It is important to understand what you are looking for in a co-founder before you begin your search. Start by determining minimum expertise and skill requirements, desired personality traits, and key roles the person must be able to perform. You may want to start this process by looking at yourself and identifying your gaps and weaknesses. Additionally, you will need to have thought through the compensation plan for this individual. Are they receiving equity, a salary, a mix of the two? Is their equity position vested based on key milestones and company benchmarks? If so, what are the terms of the vesting schedule?