I often get asked what non-technical co-founders should start with till they have found a technical co-founder. Mostly followed by, “where can I find a technical co-founder”.
This is an interesting topic as quite often I see the non-technical co-founders seeing their role in telling a tech guy what to do who then magically turns it into working code. Unfortunately this is not quite how it works and as a non-technical co-founder joining a startup without any understanding what it means to write software and to build a startup will most probably end in tears.
My number one suggestion for anyone looking for a technical co-founder is to show up for user group meetings in any programming language. It has a whole range of positive effects, first, you normally get beer and depending on the language even pizza. You meet a lot of quite technical people that are all passionate enough about a programming language to meet once a month in their spare time and talk about what they have learned and share it with others. This means there is already a high level of commitment to do more than a 9-5 job. Next, you get an idea about stuff that can be done with a language or prolems people have. Don’t worry if you don’t understand all of it, there will be at least some things that stick and if you show up more often you will understand more and more. Just a heads up, you will have to learn way more than you hope about programming if you start without a lot of funding and with a team of two or three.
The most important part of a user group meeting is the social part. Depending on the community this happens at the venue where the meeting was or moves into a pub nearby. Talking to geeks and pitching your idea to them is the most daunting thing you will ever do. If you were scared about pitching to a VC, start by pitching to real geeks. Geeks will either question your idea entierly or tell you all the reasons why it is a stupid idea and can’t be done.
If you are lucky, there is one or two that will continue talking to you past this point, if not, rethink your pitch and pick the next language or come back for the next meeting with a better pitch. If you can convince a developer of your idea, make sure you click on a personal level. I will write more on how to find a good co-founder but don’t think that you can just hire the best guy and everything will work out. You need a partner that fully buys into your idea, not just a code monkey.