It’s harder than ever to find the right technical co-founder to help you turn your business vision into a tangible startup product.
This is largely thanks to the global developer shortage, which already amounts to over 40M skilled workers worldwide.
For you, this shortage of technical talent means two things:
- It’s more difficult and will take you longer to find a tech co-founder who’s not already working on a project;
- When you do finally find someone you think will be the right fit, it’s going to take a whole lot to convince them to roll the dice and bet on your startup.
It’s one of the reasons that so many founders are turning to other alternatives like product agencies and no-code platforms to build their MVPs.
It’s like renowned CTO and startup advisor (With nearly two decades of experience in the tech industry) Nelly Yusupova told me in a recent conversation:
“Launching your early MVP and gaining traction will really help you attract a technical co-founder because you’ve taken the risk out of that opportunity for them.”
And while I agree wholeheartedly with Nelly on this, I also think if you find the right technical co-founder from day one, you should hold on to them without a second thought.
Which brings me to the topic of this article – where to find them.
I’ll be upfront with you, there is no secret recipe to finding the perfect match.
You could dedicate months to the search and come up empty-handed or they could pop up when you least expect them.
One of the most famous examples of this is how Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak met.
Back in ‘71, a mutual friend introduced the now-famous pair, back when Wozniak was a freshman in college:
“We first met during my college years, while he was in high school. A friend said, you should meet Steve Jobs, because he likes electronics and he also plays pranks. So he introduced us.”
This is, however, not the only story of co-founders meeting in unexpected places.
Throughout the rest of this article, I will share some stories from the conversations I’ve had with successful founders as part of our content series The Startup Journey.
Then, I will cover some platforms you can use to begin your search – as well as the importance of your network.
Where to Find Your Technical Co-Founder – Case Studies
As I briefly mentioned in the introduction, there is no one way to find a technical co-founder.
Here are just a few examples of how entrepreneurs I know found their dream technical partners – some more traditional than others.
1. Working on a Previous Project
The first entrepreneur on this list arguably found his technical co-founder in a much more traditional way.
Giacomo De Lorenzo met his technical co-founder before he’d even had the idea for his startup Moneymour.
A mutual friend invited them both to work on a project. It was there they had the idea for their new startup, Moneymour:
“Michele and I met on a previous project. It was during that project when the idea for Moneymour hit.
At the time, we needed a new computer, this was early 2017. We were working for a startup, so we didn’t have a whole lot of spare money.
We set out to buy the computer with a loan.
The loan landscape in Italy sucked at the time. In the end, we both asked for an online loan, from the same provider.
We had to fill in countless forms, upload documentation like payslips and bank transactions, ID, etc. After spending half an hour to do that you’d have to wait for someone to decide on your application
This is usually done in 2-4 days. However, for some banks & financial institutions, it can be as long as 7 days.
We waited for two days, and Michele got the loan, but I didn’t. Later, we hypothesized I didn’t get the loan because of my lack of credit history.
We were commuting for around three hours a day together, and we used the journey to talk about new ideas.
This loan experience came up in a few of these conversations to and from the office.
We realised that it was a problem that needed solving. And decided to launch it together.”
Moneymour would go on to be acquired by Klarna just two years later – before Giacomo and Michele had even launched.
Giacomo’s story is a much more common example of finding a technical co-founder.
Equally common, however, is when an entrepreneur spends months focused on finding their dream technical founder and still comes up empty-handed.
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2. Tinder for Co-Founders
Jan-Philipp Kruip is the founder of FitSense, a health app that rewards users for staying active.
In a recent conversation, he shared the story of how he met his technical co-founder.
For him, it all started when he was looking for opportunities in Singapore. During his search, he stumbled upon a platform that he described as “Tinder for co-founders.”:
“It was designed to match tech and non-technical founders. I remember there were 70 profiles and I didn’t really like 69 of them. Then I saw his profile and I thought:
‘He seems reasonably interesting.’
So we met for a coffee. It turned into a three-hour meeting. I instantly knew I could trust the guy.
He’d already developed the technology to build an MVP. But he needed help to commercialise it…”
This, arguably non-traditional, method to find a technical co-founder paid off, as FitSense has since been acquired, and their technology is used by some of the biggest insurance companies in the world.
3. Months of Searching
As I mentioned at the start of the article, due to the global developer shortage, it’s become harder than ever to find a technical co-founder.
It’s why so many entrepreneurs are moving to a “new normal”, where they build their MVP with a software development company to gain traction.
Then, they’ll use their MVP to attract technical co-founders.
It’s exactly what Dudley Gould did when launching his startup, Audapio.
Dudley started his entrepreneurial journey like many others.
He had a great idea and the industry knowledge to turn it into a business vision.
The only problem? He had no idea how to bring the product to life.
So, like most entrepreneurs, he started the search for his technical co-founder.
Recently, he wrote an article describing the process:
“I was convinced I needed a technical co-founder, that dream partner who could help turn my vision into a product.
So I started looking for them.
I went to meetups. Reached out to friends and friends of friends. Reached out to ex-colleagues. Joined online groups.
You name it, I tried it.
The days quickly turned into weeks. The weeks started going by quicker and quicker and I felt like I was going nowhere.
Time was rushing by and my product wasn’t any closer to being built.
So I started researching other options…”
Despite spending months committed to finding a technical co-founder, he came up empty-handed.
Dudley instead chose to work with us to build his MVP, and after a successful launch, his company was acquired by Circit.
It’s often not possible to find the perfect technical co-founder and achieve a short time-to-market.
That being said, finding a technical co-founder is without a doubt the most ideal way to build your startup.
With that in mind, I will now share with you some platforms that you can use to begin your search.
The Best Platforms to Find a Technical Co-Founder
In my experience, the best place to find a technical co-founder is, without a doubt, your network.
That’s why my #1 advice is to reach out to technical co-founders, start the conversation and share your idea with them as soon as possible.
This allows you to:
- Get to know them, and see if they would be a good fit for your startup;
- Gather valuable feedback from technical stakeholders on your startup idea and business vision.
And this advice does not just apply to technical co-founders.
It’s never too early to start building relationships with any potential stakeholder, be it investors, advisors, customers, etc.
Not to mention the latter may be able to give you a warm introduction to a potential technical co-founder.
With this in mind, the first three platforms on this list are focused on building your network. As a result, however, they’re great places to search for your technical co-founder.
The others are platforms designed to directly put you in contact with potential tech co-founders – and all offer both free and paid plans.
While LinkedIn is not a dedicated platform to find a technical co-founder, there are several ways to leverage LinkedIn to that dream partner.
Firstly, if you already have an idea of what your startup needs in terms of tech stack/programming language, you can search for developers who fit your needs.
Then you can use LinkedIn’s filters to narrow down your search based on location, current occupation, etc.
This is a great way to start building connections and start the conversation about your startup.
The other way to leverage LinkedIn to find a technical co-founder is by joining co-founder groups.
Joining these groups gives you another avenue to start sharing your ideas, and start gaining interest.
2. Slack Communities
Much like LinkedIn, Slack communities can be a great way to gather connections and find a technical co-founder.
And even if you don’t find your dream technical co-founder, they are great places to build connections and get involved in the community.
Meetup has become one of the best platforms to find events and groups on anything from niche gaming to business networking.
So it’s no surprise that there are a large number of groups and events for co-founders.
This is another platform that is designed to help you expand your network, and start sharing your idea.
It’s easy to sign up too and completely free.
4. Wellfound (f.k.a AngelList)
Wellfound has become one of the most popular sites to find startup employees of all disciplines, including technical co-founders.
To post your technical co-founders jobs on the platform you’ll need to go to Wellfound’s recruit page.
Once you’ve signed in you’ll need to create a profile for your company.
Once you’ve set up your account you’ll be able to post adverts for your job for free. There is, however, a paid option you can use where AngelList will curate potential partners for you.
CoFoundersLab is like a dating network for entrepreneurs. They boast a worldwide community consisting of over 400,000 “innovators, entrepreneurs & industry leaders.”
It’s completely free to join and on the basic plan you can reach out to up to five technical co-founders per month.
There is also a paid version, which enables you to reach out to as many potential tech co-founders as you want.
Starhawk is one of the newest startups aiming to build a co-founder community online.
Much like CoFoundersLab, it’s free to sign up with a premium option available that brings perks such as unlimited messaging & premium filters.
One difference from the other platforms on this list is Starhawk’s onboarding process.
As you sign up for the platform, it asks you:
- Whether you’re looking for people to join your startup, or if you’re looking to join someone else’s startup.
- The skills you’re looking for in a co-founder.
This is a great way to narrow down the search for your technical co-founder immediately.
7. Y Combinator Co-Founder Matching
Y Combinator Co-founder Matching is arguably one of the most rigorous platforms to find a technical co-founder.
The huge benefit here for you is the vetting process that YC undertake – meaning you’re only going to find high-quality technical co-founders on the platform.
Once your profile has been approved, YC will send you matches based on the skills you’re looking for and your location preferences.
When you find someone you think is a good fit, the platform will even help you craft the perfect invitation message.
An added bonus of this platform is that it’s completely free.
I hope this article has given you a good idea of where to begin your search for a technical co-founder.
Just remember, as you embark on this journey, to nurture your network and ensure you choose someone with the right characteristics for the job.
Rui is a partner and CMO at Altar.io. He’s been dedicated to B2B marketing for his entire professional career. After spending eight years honing his craft at Portugal’s first B2B marketing agency, he joined Altar, where he leads both the marketing and sales department under the same umbrella.
His current focus is on business strategy, getting to know Altar’s customers and occasional early-stage strategy discussions with the entrepreneurs we work with.