What to do when you can't find a technical co-founder

Why the Silicon Valley idea that you shouldn't ever outsource development of your initial product is garbage.

This kind of crap drives me crazy. 💩🤪

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This is a tweet from Michael Seibel, one of the partners of YCombinator, the leading Startup accelerator. Michael, like many Silicon Valley investors, regularly advocates that you need a technical co-founder from day 1 if you really want to be successful. 

It drives me crazy because it’s so obviously biased

YCombinator was founded by former developers who built and sold companies 20+ years ago during the first Dotcom boom. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an incredible program. They’ve launched companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, Stripe, and Reddit. The connections and prestige alone are enough to give your startup a major boost. And Michael is a smart guy, who I believe genuinely wants to help people. 

But his opinion that you shouldn’t ever outsource development is crap. 💩

Ycombinator loves to talk about how startups should move faster, faster, faster. 

🏃💨💨💨

And yet, Michael’s advice to would-be founders who don’t have a bevy of programmer friends to call on to found their company with…is to get a job in tech.

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https://twitter.com/mwseibel/status/1038441687146590208

That’s a horrible option for the majority of the world outside of Silicon Valley. Not to mention, it can (and should) take years to build a relationship that's strong enough to start a business with someone. Being co-founders is like being married. You wouldn’t propose to someone you met on your first day at a new job, and you shouldn’t ask them to start a company with you then, either. 

It’s worth noting that I am biased too. As the CEO of Krit, our entire message is that you can succeed as a non-technical founder by outsourcing your early product development. In fact, we argue that you’ll be better off iterating with a small team like ours. 

That’s not to say it won’t be hard. It will be. In some ways, it will be harder than without a technical co-founder.

Development skills are overrated. 🤭

But the inverse is true too. I know, because Krit started as a tech company with 3 technical founders. The single biggest reason we failed to make our first product successful? We didn’t have the “non-technical skills.” We didn’t know how to market or sell our product. All we could do was build it. 

Writing the code is the easy part. Building an audience, empathizing with them to understand their problems, and identifying a solution you can sell—those are the real superpowers.

We wrote about all of the hurdles you’ll face as a nontechnical founder, and the advantages too, in this post:


https://builtbykrit.com/blog/theyre-wrong-you-can-be-non-technical-in-tech

We're not the only ones who think this way either. Alex Turnbull, one of my favorite writers, wrote about how he outsourced development of his MVP and the pros and cons that went along with it.

What do you think?

Do you agree with Michael that it’s 1000x harder to build a successful tech company without a technical co-founder? I’d love to hear why, and I hope you’ll give me the chance to prove you wrong. 😉

“Four months from now, I could have a living, breathing product in the market that would let me collect user feedback, get validation and push this business forward. Or, I could still potentially be sitting here with nothing.” 

–– Alex Turnbull, CEO of Groove 

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