How To Write A Perfect Invitation Letter For A Technical Co Founder
Finding a technical co founder to help you build your startup’s product is not easy. Like any other business, it takes time and dedication. I’ve had the chance to sit down with some ivy league Computer Science students and some current startup co founders and got some feedbacks from them on what they expect from an “idea” person.
9 out of 10 of the people I interviewed said that they think of an idea person as someone who doesn’t have skills. The computer science student believes that anyone can be an idea person or anyone can come up with an idea that will change the world, but it doesn’t mean anything at all. They also believe that anyone can sell and market and can learn the skill a lot quicker than coding. So why even join up with an idea person? The reason they want to join up with a business person to launch their startup is because startup takes a lot of work. It’s hard to wear all the hats in the startup business. If you are spending 12 hours on coding, it’s quite difficult to add additional time to marketing your product. That is why they choose to team up with a business person so that each individual person has their own separate task to focus on.
What a developer expects from an “idea person”
Developers told me that they receive emails everyday in a pitch letter format seeking for a technical co founder. They claim that they ignore most of the emails. The reason they ignore most of them is because half of them are nonsense to them and half of them sound like old school sales letter that gives them no value. So, as a non technical co founder you have to remember that you are asking someone to dump away a 6 figure salary to join you with uncertainty. In the startup world, even if your company is backed by incubators or angel investors, there is still no way to guarantee success like a successful Fortune 500 company could. The developers are putting in a lot more work to get things up and running for you, not to mention the amount of time spent debugging and implementing new features.
So, what’s the best way to write an attractive invitation letter? One thing that all of them mentioned is that they do not want to hear that you want them to sign a NDA. They said that a so called “perfect idea” is everywhere. Every idea already has a competitor and there is no point in hiding the idea. The developers said that, they would never steal your idea because they won’t have time to market the product, so if your idea is good they will choose to join up with you instead of stealing your idea. To a potential technical co-founder, an idea is just the start and a NDA is a waste of time.
Another thing is that the potential technical co founders hope that you at least know a little bit of coding. Instead of just telling the developers that I want this and that, they actually want to know that you understand it. Of course this doesn’t necessary mean knowing how to structure and layout the entire code, but you have to know how it works or at least how to create a working code. If possible, developers want to see a prototype or even a wireframe/drawing. This helps the developer out a lot because now all they have to do is figure out how to create certain actions for buttons etc.
Developers also mentioned that they don’t want to hear about compensation. Since these developers are talented, they can easily find 6 figure salaries and not have to worry about the taunting lifestyle of being apart of a startup. What developers are looking for is the feeling of being successful or an accomplishment feeling, therefore they feel that compensation should not be included in the pitch letter. Compensation and equity could be negotiated after they decide that this is the perfect startup for them to take on the role as a technical co founder.
Mapping out the required skills needed for the product in the inivitation letter is crucial. For example, you wouldn’t want to say, “I need someone that can do ruby, django, rails, sql, html, css” That to the developer is too vague and it gives them a sense of feeling that the business person does not really know what they want. So, what’s a better way to fix this? Find out exactly what you need and emphasize on the important parts. If you are an idea person and you have figured out that your app would work best with Ruby on Rails, then tell them that you need someone that is proficient in ruby on rails. If you know you will be using MongoDB as your database then emphasize and require it, instead of just saying i need someone good with databases.
In the end it is all about making the developer feel comfortable about what you want from them. Remember, starting a startup requires 5-10 years of your future life. This technical co founder will be with you for the next 5-10 years of your life, so they want someone they can trust and someone that is reliable. Most developers also recommends that the business person learns how to code as well. Not rockstar,unicorn,hacker status of coding, but at least understand how a code works. This means fluent knowledge of HTML, CSS, and a scripting language such as ruby or python. Developers spend a lot of time coding, so they might not always have time to explain every little script to you. Having a solid knowledge of it helps in everyway. It helps with your future sales as well.
Now that you have got your team together check out how to get your MVP funded by a VC
Also check out 5 perfect examples of a MVP
Hope this helps