Solo Founders Should Hang around the Hoop

One of the mistakes I made early was choosing to be a solo founder. Over the last year, I’ve been intentional about sharing with early founders the importance of having a founding team. Some still think the solo route is best, but most tell me they want a co-founder. But finding one is easier said than done—especially for nontechnical founders seeking a technical founder.

Nontechnical founders who want to build a technology company face a dilemma. They can’t build the product. They must find a technical co-founder (or a senior developer they don’t have to manage closely). Otherwise the company never progresses beyond the idea stage. Technical solo founders face a host of other challenges, but they can at least build the product. Putting the product in users’ hands can generate traction —a powerful recruiting tool. It’s easier to recruit a co-founder when you can show that you’ve already acquired customers or users.

So how does a nontechnical founder find a technical co-founder? There’s no silver bullet, but a good start is to hang around the hoop. The hoop is anywhere good technical talent might be found: meetups, conferences, pitch competitions, slack channels . . . you get the idea. Colleges are also great resources. Loitering around a school won’t help, but you can reach out to computer science professors and leaders of student clubs. If you’ve got a good idea, can tell a story, and talk to enough people, the odds are in your favor.

The difficulty of finding a co-founder is a problem I’ve heard about often enough that it warrants deeper thought. I’ll discuss it with others and, I hope, come up with a more comprehensive set of ideas for solving it. If I do, I’ll be sure to share it!