by Eric Mathews, founding CEO of LaunchYourCity
Many people walk in our doors with ideas they believe will change the world and make them rich. The problem they invariably have is that they can’t build it. 95% of these potential founders have an idea for an mobile app or web app and they want the LaunchYourCity team to play matchmaker to a developer. These potential founders don’t realize that the developer probably has his own awesome ideas. Why would he switch from developing his ideas to developing yours? These potential founders will get no where fast with developers because they have ignored the obvious: a developer is your first investor.
Like all investments you need to earn the right to ask!
Here is the typical scenario. A non-technical founder approaches a potential technical co-founder with just an idea. These potential founders usually have very little skin in the game. They haven’t invested a ton of their own time, but expect a developer to contribute 100s of hours. They haven’t even dipped into their own funds to get something mocked up or designed. These potential founders have not invested energy into determining who the customer is, understanding their buying behaviors, or even determine if they would want the app and pay for it. The outcome is always the same. The developer says no and gets annoyed with wannabe entrepreneurs and gets turned off to the startup world.
This is a very bad outcome for our entire community. It could all be avoided.
Imagine going to a technical co-founder and saying the following:
“I have been working to validate an idea for a new app over the past couple of weeks. I didn’t know if this was a good idea so I talked to 50 customers and found out that not only was it good, but also determined what the minimum features would be to satisfy the customer. Because I wanted to continue to make progress, I taught myself to code a little bit.
“With a logo that I paid a local designer to polish up for me, I was able to get a one page website up and running articulating the features of the future app. I also was able to code the website to capture email addresses from future customers. I created a blog to talk about the industry and my perspective on the changes coming. I got a lot of feedback and interest from the blog — one post has been viewed 10,000 times and has 56 comments.
“I started to market a bit to garner interest and I didn’t get 1,000 email signups — I got over 5,000 people to give me their email address. Because I figured out how to market more effectively, I get about 100 signups day now on the website and I’m only spending $10 a day on ads. I went ahead and contracted with a designer to get some wire frames done and some screen mock ups. I showed them to some of the customers who signed up and they gave me feedback to refine the app. I’m currently working on a new set of mocks ups with the designer. Along the way I reached out to the CMO of a big local bank and he agreed to mentor me and my future team as we startup. I think I’ll get another rock star mentor to commit next week.
“I did all this in just 60 days. I’m looking for a technical co-founder that believes in me and how we can change the world. I think you would be a great co-founder. Will you join me?”
Guess what a technical co-founder will say after hearing this pitch?
People invest in execution, not ideas. If you’re willing to do the work you will have no problems getting the right talent on the bus. Prove that you are a worthy founder by doing the leg work before going to a technical co-founder and you will find many people jumping on board.