One of the most asked questions by non-technical people in the startup space is “How can I find someone technical to work with?” or better yet “How can I find a technical co-founder?”
People ask it so often that it sort of becomes an annoying joke. Technical partners aren’t “found.” They just happen. Technical people don’t want to work with someone looking for a technical partner. They want the person who can demonstrate that they can get things done. Begging and asking developers to be your technical co-founder is pathetic and devs can spot this from miles away.
In my experience, here are the two best ways to find your technical life partner:
1) Work at a Startup
Forget about your own idea for a year or two and go work for a company that has already raised a series A or B (ie they can pay you a salary to live). You’ll have a job, you’ll learn how to run a company, you’ll befriend the technical team and much more. Spend time with the technical team. Actually bond with them. Take the time out to get to know all of them and see if anyone blends with your style of work (i.e. works late nights, morning people, etc.).
It’s not a guarantee but many companies have emerged when a design/product/biz person and a technical person leave a company where they met to work on their own thing. If you don’t find someone from your company, you should try to meet other engineers at other friendly companies (friendly here means that you might share an investor or are based in the same building). Be flexible when looking around for your technical life partner.
Also: You need to make sure you are also doing your job and doing it well. You can’t focus all your time on this, but it’s okay to have it on your goal list of things you’d like to gain from working there. If you don’t do a good job and only focus all your attention on this stuff, you will lose.
2) Hackathons + Meetups
If you don’t meet your technical-life partner at the office, you should be attending hackathons and technical meetups. There are good ways to go about this as well as bad. You don’t want to be the person going around looking for technical co-founders at these events. You want to be the person wanting to learn more about a technical language (for meetups) or looking for teammates at a hackathon (you can offer your product/design/biz skills).
You need to go where the wild things are, namely places developers hang out. Hackathons are the best. It’s 24 hours and you get to really learn if this person works well with you. On top of that, once you do find your technical life partner (whether it came from in the office or outside), you should go to hackathons together as a motivator to work and to have time together. If you build a cool project together, you may even win a prize that weekend. There are hackathons almost every weekend in SF and NY, so there is no excuse that you can’t attend one.
Finding your technical-life partner is no easy task. Most people never find theirs. Other times people find a technical partner and then realize it is not a good fit (which sucks). I think the two ways above are good places to start.
Any other suggestions?