impact punk

How to end a conversation with me

Wednesday, 8 May 2013
Lenz Gschwendtner

I get quite a few people that ask me for advice on technical co-founders or how to find a technical person for their startup. The one sentence that ends a conversation with me needing to urgently attend another meeting or some other way of getting away in a polite way is the following:

“I know how to do idea X; I only need a technical person to build it for me.”

This is doomed for failure on many levels and my time is wasted trying to point out why. If you find yourself in this situation then here are some things to think about.

If you want to train for a marathon and never wore running shoes before you can pay a personal trainer to get you fit but paying him to run for you will not prepare you for the marathon, never mind how good that PT is. Building a startup is way more challenging than running a marathon and thinking that hiring a tech guy to “just build it” is like blaming the PT for your missing training. If you are not looking for a partner, for someone to work with and develop something then you are missing the point of building something.

The next misconception is that you think you know everything and all that is missing is the tech. If your attitude from the get go is that you already know everything then why bother doing it, you will not learn anything. You will waste a whole lot of time and energy realising that you did not know everything and that is a very frustrating realisation that will never lead you to a successful startup. It will make you bitter and give you the idea that building startups is a horrible thing to do.

The next thing that will make you very unhappy is the fact that you “only need a tech guy”. Looking for “only a tech guy” implies that you know how to manage a tech guy. Look for a co-founder, look for someone you can trust on a personal level and build the business with that person. It is critical that the product vision and the technical vision are well aligned. Even in teams that know each other very well the product and tech teams will always challenge each other.

Understand that your idea is only as good as the team that helps you get there. If you think of them as underlings you will have a hard time getting them aligned and turnover will be high. If you manage to get a team together that is passionate about your idea, your turnover will be low and everyone will give the best to make this idea a success.

If I referred you here, you’ll know that the meeting I ran away to was fake and I hope you learned why I did it.