I’ve been approached several times by many people looking for tech-cofounders or engineers to help build a product based on an idea they had. After getting so many of them over the years, I decided to write this list of pointers based on the advice I have given to those who approached me.
So here are my X commandments you should do, think about or have an answer to before looking for that tech person:
- If you can dream of something, you can bet you won’t be the only one.
- Research existing products that are most similar if they exist. What problems do they face? How can you differentiate your product against those?
- Seek the opinion of your potential customers.
- Seek the opinion of engineers to see if the idea is technically feasible in the first place.
- If you need material suppliers, see if you can get their support.
- What kind of engineers do you need?
- What can you offer to your engineers? Potential value of shares doesn’t count. 50% of nothing is still nothing.
- In most cases, an NDA is usually not necessary. Waving the NDA as the first thing starts the conversation with a bad taste. If it is, I’m sure there is a way to explain why is the NDA necessary for the problem to be solved.
- Try to build a prototype by yourself or pay for a development house/freelancer to do it. Mockups also can. Objective is to test your idea before committing further. This also shows everyone you are serious.
- Prepare some initial funding if you don’t have investors.
- Never personally attack someone if they refuse to work with you or point out possible flaws in your idea/strategy. You want the honest opinion of others, be prepared to get critical ones. Remember that critical comments are directed at your idea/implementation and not at you.
- Get to know the other party first before jumping the gun. Rejection is all but certain if you don’t.
Thanks to my friend James Yong, I have the Zeroth Commandment.
You must have something extra to bring to the table as well, of equal or more in worthiness. And yeah, that excludes “the idea”. Examples are: capital, connections, pre-sales, showmanship, prototype, tenacity, brutality, track record, specialized knowledge and patents If one has none of the above, one should work on improving themselves rather than bothering others.
Even if you have an answer to all these points, be prepared for multiple rejections anyway. To be honest, looking for a tech-cofounder or an engineer to be part of your vision is quite similar to looking for a romantic partner. You can do everything seemingly perfect but some people just will not click with you. Don’t be afraid to cast your net wide by talking to and knowing more people. Tech meetups and conferences are a very good way to pitch your ideas and network with engineers.
You will get very similar advice when you Google about this issue but my list is what I feel is important to me because those are what comes to my mind at first. The reason I write X is because the above list is non-exhaustive at this time. I may add more as I think of them. If you feel there is a point I should add, feel free to tell me!
If you have time, read this and have a good laugh.