I have been a techie for most of my life and cofounded multiple startups with varying levels of success. I had convesations with a number of teams and individuals over tha last year, for partnering to create something great. After meeting with quite a few early stage startups and cofounders, I thought it would be helpful if I were to document some helpful points I’d like to make regarding the experiences and discussions during this process.
(These are generic topics that do not reflect on any specific individual or company I have spoken to.)
1. You do not have a Billion dollar idea.
Yes, if you build something solid around it, it could be. If your idea alone is spectacular, then sell the idea itself and hire me and my development team to implement it while keeping all of the equity.
2. What skills do you bring to the table?
Please don’t come in saying you are the idea guy – you have to come with more. Here are the skills I value: The ability to sell and gain revenue. A knack for product development. The keen sense to create slick and usable designs. Someone that can make something instead of talk about it. The ability to find partnerships , money and/or customers. Can you do any of these? If not, I’m not very interested.
3. Your diversified business skills are not enough.
Tell me what you have done and not the companies that have given you a paycheck. What have you specifically accomplished yourself? How?
4. Presenting top-down financial projections do not matter.
These can be derived easily. Furthermore, depending upon the startup specifics and logic involved, it may mean next to nothing in the long run.
5. Multipage financial models are not inspiring.
My team and I can program nearly any concept in most programming languages. Excel macros paired with vague assumptions is not stable enough to base decisions on.
6. Validate your idea.
If you are asking me to invest my time, effort, resources and development team, you need to back up yourself and ideas. You are ultimately asking me to invest in a startup, even though it is non-monetary. Treat it that way and convince me with something concrete.
7. Don’t be greedy.
Fairness goes a long way.
8. Know the difference between a technical cofounder and a developer.
If you need somebody to modify Wordpress, Joomla or something of that nature, you don’t need a technical cofounder. Just hire a developer for few weeks and you will be done with it.
9. Don’t ask me to sign an NDA.
If you are not going to ask an angel investor to sign one (I hope not), why would you ask me?
If you take the necessary time and effort needed to present your idea wisely and stand out, you will be able to move forward with your endeavor. This is by no means a definitive list, but it is a great way to improve your chances of teaming up with the right technical cofounder.