I recently went to a networking meetup and met someone who had an app idea and was looking for a technical guy to be a partner or a cofounder. Invariably people chime in and say that you should go to the Rails meetups or some other technical ones. You’ll definitely find technical guys there but I think that’s just scratching the surface of the problem.
The real problem is convincing them to work for/with you. There seems to be a real shortage of developers and designers, especially in the bay area. There are so many exciting startups that have traction to work for not to mention the giants like the Facebooks and Googles. Those companies are offering great salaries with great benefits. On top of that, any able developer can apply to the numerous startup incubators and try to get their own idea off the ground. With so many appealing choices open to them, the idea of working for an idea guy for a few measly points is not going to be attractive unless you can show why they are more likely to succeed working or partnering with you.
How do we do that?
Prove the business. I love entrepreneurs who validate the business before investing a penny on tech. One great example is Dabble. People can take any class offered on Dabble for $20. Anybody who has a skill can offer to teach classes. When the site first started out this was a simple WordPress site with a sign up form widget. People sign up to teach classes and people sign up to take classes but there was no magician behind the curtains. When my friend Jessica Lybeck and her business partner started this site, they didn’t immediately hire a programmer to build the system. They just used WordPress and a WordPress plugin. A different entrepreneur would have build a pitch deck before starting this. Another entrepreneur would have probably spent a lot of money building the site so that people can sign up to teach and learn and built out this whole system.
Presell. I also love it when entrepreneurs have clients lined up to use the product. This maybe because they were presold based on a presentation or marketing material or they signed a letter of intent to use the product. Even better, sell – meaning get their money first before you even have the product – that’s the ultimate validation. They want it so bad they’ll pay you to make it happen. Sites like Kickstarter are great for something like this – it gets people to commit their dollars if they really like your idea.
Be open about your idea. This is probably the number one turn off for developers – when people come up and say I’ll give you a piece of the action only if you sign an NDA. News flash – your ideas are not new or original. I can’t tell you how many times people tell me an idea as if it was the next best thing since sliced bread and I tell them – oh have you heard of [X] app or [X] website? Do your homework people. Know your space inside and out. Who are the players, who are the competitors, what’s the market etc. Don’t worry about people stealing your idea. They are too busy doing their own idea.
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