Launching a startup business is much easier today than it was a decade ago. Over the past few years, ample resources have been developed to support small teams of people with big visions for revolutionary technology and services. But starting a company is no easy feat. With so many startups being launched, the competition for investor dollars is fierce, as is the competition getting into incubator and accelerator programs.
However, founding teams that lack a technical founder will find themselves running into more obstacles than startups that do. Although it’s possible to start and grow a successful startup company without a technical founder (like Brian Chesky at Airbnb), the odds are stacked against you. For this reason, you should consider finding a solid technical co-founder to help you grow your startup. Here’s why:
Technical Experience On-Site
With a technical founder, you’ll benefit from technical experience on-site. Not only do you have someone by your side who is equally as invested in the company’s success as you are, but you have an expert with you at all times in terms of development.
During these early stages, communication is very important. Whenever you need to ask a question, come up with a solution, or brainstorm ideas, the ability to turn to someone and act when necessary can work wonders for company morale.
Technical co-founders are also up to date on the latest technology trends. Cloud applications and tools like a container registry, Kubernetes, Git, and Helm all help streamline software development. For a non-technical founder, it will be much more difficult to understand what’s going on with the technology that powers the business.
Focus on Your Talents
One of the biggest advantages of having a technical founder is that it allows both team members to focus on the areas of the business that they’re most strong with. Whether you’re great at marketing or design, you can leverage those strengths to their full potential when you’re not worried about project managing the technical side. Instead, you’re able to divide the workload and focus on what you’re most passionate about.
Save Money Early On
When you have a technical co-founder, you’ll save significantly during crucial first stages because you won’t have to spend thousands of dollars on outsourcing your development needs. Nor will you have to spend a five and six figure salary on a tech employee.
The majority of developers are likely unwilling to take a small salary unless they have significant stock in the company—especially in a day and age when developers are highly sought after in every industry. During pre-seed stages, chances are you don’t have the funds to support a developer salary. With a technical co-founder, those technical obligations are minimized, allowing you to focus on the core business.
Control Over Intellectual Property
Outsourcing has become a new normal in software development. There are many agencies that focus exclusively on software development, and some even specialize in working with a specific technology or in specific industries.
While there’s nothing wrong with outsourcing, it’s important that you look at the long-term picture. When you outsource your work, your product or service might rely on that underlying technology, which means you become dependent on your outsourced team to manage it. If something goes wrong, you have to depend on them to fix it.
Furthermore, if that business goes under, or if it becomes clear they’re prioritizing other projects over yours, your business could end up suffering. If you don’t want to stay on a retainer for the support and would like complete control over your intellectual property, this likely isn’t the best arrangement for you.
Furthermore, some investors won’t feel comfortable knowing that your technology is dependent on a development team that’s offsite, especially if they have questions and prefer to meet the entire team before they put any money into the company.
A standard employee or outsourced technical assistance will most likely not be as strongly committed to the success of your business as a co-founder is. For founders, working on the company isn’t just about collecting a paycheck, but instead about creating a great business that will thrive.
They accept that they may not be making much money in the beginning, and are willing to make this trade-off for building a business from scratch that will prove successful later down the line.