How to Find the Perfect Tech Co-Founder for your Tech-Start Up?
Tech cofounders to me are people who are madly Techies and bravely Entrepreneurs. A scarce breed that we call Technopreneurs. My work as the CEO of Ambab/Pretr and over a decade in Consumer Internet is constantly revolving around such techies and helping such extraordinarily smart and creative people reach their full potential as creators, builders and engineers.
While Knowledge, Skills, Technology, Process, Management, Communication, Planning, Hands-on Coding and Recruiting capabilities are given - there are 4 important things that I look in a techie before qualifying him/her as a tech cofounder.
The first thing that I look for in a Tech co-founder is his/her Hunger
It's an awkward truth about a successful Technopreneurs — in the deepest levels of their psyche (often hidden to their self), they have ahunger that they can't control. This hunger goes by many names — anxiety, learning, ambition, competitive drive, and the will to win. You can't teach Technopreneurs to be hungry! No matter how brilliant a product team is, if Tech lead of that team doesn't carry this hunger, the chances of success of that project can go from low to infinitesimal. Technopreneurs who learn to bank and control this hunger fire are among the most productive and effective Tech co-founders in the world.
The second most important factor that I see in Technopreneurs is their Intellectual Agility.
Tech cofounders basically should be like sponge. You can't be a good Tech Cofounder if you aren't restlessly curious about business, ideas, people, technology and challenges— constantly remixing those ingredients in your head to find new and better ways of doing things.
Because Technopreneurs are so intellectually agile, they can learn almost anything if exposed to the right vectors, whether its high-performing peers, experienced mentors, academic environment, direct trial-and-error or Google! So next time when you hire a Techie, Hire him for hisIntellectual Agility to do things and to do them better and faster every time.
The third and probably most important factor that I see in a tech co-founder is the ability to Integrate Fearlessly.
He or She must boldly integrate with vision, with business and with teams. The tech co-founder needs to be a commanding officer of the troop and probably the only teammate who can tell you its possible every time you hit the impossibilities. Very commonly we hear this and probably true in Indian context where CEO says that we failed because of our technology or our ability to adopt technology was not good. But at the core of it is integration inertia that tech leads create. These inertias are created primarily when your tech co-founder starts keeping personal interest over company's interest. Tech leads tend to take easy decisions. They tend to be followers over innovators. They want to use proven over experimental. The want to be defensive over aggressive. They fear to fail. They fear to be responsible. They paralyze businesses by limiting businesscgrowth to IT capabilities instead of building innovative capabilities to address business challenges. This is the breed, which is in abundance today! My advice to you is to beware of them. DO NOT- I repeat DO NOT hire someone as your Tech co-founder if they tend to play safe.
Their ability to learn, invent, implement and reinvent fearlessly and fiercely is the key to a successful Products and Businesses.
And the final quality and the must have one is their Ability to Sell.
I am serious, their ability to Sell! While interviewing your Tech co-founder just ask him one question "Explain me one complex thing that you believe you don't know" and if he starts explaining you some complex mathematical theorems that you have no interest in - Reject him! Ability of techie to simplify the most complex challenges so that it becomes seamless, interesting, and sellable is the most important thing. When you are running a Tech Startup, your Tech Lead is the most important selling factor both internally and externally. He is the face to you internal teams. He is the one who is driving, building, selling and simplifying your visions with your tech teams day in and day out. He is the one who is constantly facing the heat of your stake holders for manifesting your business into reality. If he can't sell, he can't simplify, if he can't simplify, he can't build.
Tech Cofounders are Rock Stars! They aren't born but made; first by the hurt the world gives them and then by their lifelong fight to forge that hurt into something beautiful and strong.
If you are Techie out there just brace yourself to be one Heluva Technopreneur. Find one Cofounder, Identify real problem and be brave to build and build it big. If you are Entrepreneur out there building a dream team for your Tech Startup do not compromise on your Tech co-founder.He is, will be the only reason for your failure if not success.