Startups don't need a programmer but a technical co-founder

Credit: flickr/Rochelle, just rochelle

Starting an Internet business demands an equal mix of business and technical skills. If you have one, partner with, don't just hire the other, for best results.

So says Aaron Schaap in "Why you don't need a programmer." He explains people ask him for programmers willing to "help out nights and weekends to make this app a reality," and he says no. Why should a programmer work for free? If you have the money for development, then hire them. If you don't, ask them not to work for free but to partner with you and work for ownership.

When you search for a "technical co-founder" the conversation changes completely. Value, not just money or the promise of money, is involved. And Schaap points out that all the programmers who think starting a new company is just a matter of launching an app are just as wrong, and they should look for a business / marketing co-founder.

Been there

I couldn't agree more. I've been faced with this type of person a number of times, thinking all they need is a techie to get it done.

Valerie DiCarlo on

As a developer entrepreneur I get pitched at least 2 or 3 good ideas a month, except that the person doing the pitching almost never has neither money or marketing experience.

Dan on

agreed. Since I found my technical cofounder, life has been so much easier

grant on

offered %5-%10 stake in the company for virtually building the whole app and everything with no salary. Completely warped view of an app/online service startup.

lukeholder on


If you have a decent idea, no product, and aren't willing to give up either cash or decent equity then you aren't going to find a programmer

tom on

Making a very good programmer a technical co-founder is probably the best move.

RuggeroAltair on

Look for your local entrepreneur group. It’s crazy how many leads will get thrown at you once they hear you’re a developer looking for a startup.

Rob on


Don't really agree. Programming is a commodity. Unless the product is very technically complex and totally innovative, there is no RISK in the development side, the RISK is in the business side.

Anon on

Let's put it this way. We've all heard of the lone programmer who built something entirely alone and made a million bucks from it. We've never heard of the lone businessman whose idea grew legs and programmed itself to make the guy a million bucks :)

lusr on

Finding either a business expert or programming expert willing to jump into the unknown for equity in a company that doesn't yet exist is a tough job. But when it works, it works well.

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