The Truth Behind Finding a Tech Co-Founder
The following post is from Ernie Valladares ’20, co-founder of Third Eye Innovation. Third Eye Innovation is building an aftermarket heads up display that projects the vehicles blind spot.
So you have that billion dollar “blockchain peer-to-peer app” idea but realize you have no technical background. Contrary to popular belief, “handling the business side” is quite touché. I’ve been working on Third Eye Innovation for about a year now and I can now speak on some mistakes and successes from the process of finding somebody to work with.
The first mistake I made would be thinking the “idea” would be extremely easy to build. My co-founder, Casimir Lesperance, was just preparing to start his classes at MIT when I met up with him for our initial meeting. As I ran the concept past him for the first time I was thinking this project could be on its feet within a couple weeks. I feel like the disconnect between thinking of the product from a business perspective and an engineering perspective is the toughest thing to overcome. However, as you get further into actually working on a project, you begin to notice this difference in mindset and work towards using a “technical mindset” as you understand more about your product.
Even though I said the first mistake has to do with building the “idea” I think that that work prior to building must not be underestimated. People tend to reach out to developers claiming to have a “billion dollar idea” with no validation behind that. I didn’t look into the market, competitors, or even consumer interest and immediately reached out to Casimir to start prototyping my concept. Proving the viability of your business should be done prior to building, as it will increase your value and decrease the risk taken by your tech co-founder. This also leads to what I think is the most important aspect of finding somebody to work with, although this depends on your plans for the future, your partner should have the same ideas.
When I say have the same ideas, what I mean is that you should find somebody who believes in the “vision” and most importantly in you. Most founders, such as myself, tend to begin developing their products extremely early. This means that months and sometimes even years of work must be done before making your first $1. If you start of a conversation by saying “I can’t pay you, but I can give you 20% of my company that will be worth 100 million next year” chances are you won’t be taken seriously. Some developers rather work for a big firm with a salary coming in before investing their time and risking with a start up. The key here is to find a partner who can see beyond the first months of struggles and actually believes in your project. If you find somebody who you think can build your perfect product, but they don’t seem mentally invested. I would recommend going the route of one time payment instead of equity as a co-founder, so you don’t get stuck with somebody owning 20% of your dream