Before I joined GetComparisons, I met with a large number of people looking for a technical co-founder to help them turn their idea into reality. I’ve kept in touch with some of them and some have asked me why I chose GetComparisons over their startup, or what they can do to better attract someone like me to their company or idea. There’s no one answer to this question, but I believe there are a few important things that a non-technical person can do to improve their chances.
Present a clear vision
This may seem obvious, but are you presenting a cogent idea to those you meet? Sure, your idea is going to change and be revised (a lot), but I need to know that you have something more than just a vague idea like a social network that combines chocolate reviews and dating.
I want you to be able to answer questions like “How do you envision feature X working?”, “What do you think should happen when users do this?”, and “How do you hope to acquire users and encourage them to partcipate?”. If you haven’t even thought of these, you haven’t really thought things through and you’re not convincing me of your value as an “idea guy”, let alone as a business-savvy partner.
Just because I may be in charge of product development, doesn’t mean you don’t need to have thought through the implementation of your idea, if it’s your idea that you want me to work on.
Prove your value
People with a more technical background can be skeptical of partners without coding or design skills. They may view things like sales, marketing, or networking as unpleasant, but not overly challenging. While this is absolutely not true – a good person with skills in any of these categories will probably make or break many startups – you need to convince me that you’re more than just a good socializer.
You need to do things that I can’t or don’t want to do. “Idea guy” is not enough. You think I don’t have ideas? I’ve got a few full notebooks that say otherwise. What I will need you to do is get us interviews and press, talk to investors, and make good connections, among other things. If you can’t pitch compellingly to me, you won’t be able to pitch investors. Both execution and ideas are important, but if you can’t help me build the site, tell me how you’re going to help build the company.
What if you still can’t find anyone?
That’s the situation my co-founder Akshay, found himself in with GetComparisons (known as Mokabla at the time). So he just started the company anyways, hiring a designer and an Indian developer. By the time I met Akshay, he had already created a prototype that was in Beta and started getting some traction. This was of course far more appealing to me: a real vision, some evidence that the idea was valid, and most importantly evidence that Akshay knew how to execute.
So, go for it. You believe in your idea, don’t you? Outsource while keeping your day job. Or, spend a couple months learning to program a little. No, you won’t create something perfect, but at least you’ll have a prototype to show that will communicate your vision and show that you are committed to it.