Finding a Technical Partner for Your Startup

July 6, 2009

Today I received an inquiry from a student at an Ivy League university who wants to launch a web startup. Maybe you’re facing the same challenges as James; he’s got a great idea but doesn’t know where to find a technologist to help build it. And James doesn’t have any money to pay for development. I gave him some advice; maybe you’ll find it useful, too.

Hi Daniel,

I recently ran across your blog. I found your suggestions in the article “Startup Mistakes: The Partnership Gone Sour” especially useful.

I have a related dilemma. I have an interesting project idea, but it requires seasoned programming skills. None of my friends and I are able to do this ourselves.

I’ve managed to contact two serial entrepreneurs by email, give them the pitch, and both of them agreed with me but commented that it would be a challenge to set up. I’ve also contacted my university’s entrepreneurial director who also said it was a feasible and interesting idea. Then, through SCORE (the nonprofit association of volunteer business consultants), I contacted a professor with experience in a related field and he liked it as well.

So you see my dilemma. How can I go about looking for a (very) good programmer willing to do this as sweat equity? Which avenues would you suggest I should take?

Best regards,

How to Find a Technical Partner

Here’s what I wrote in reply to James’s query:

(read more) Finding a Technical Partner for Your Startup

Startup Mistakes: The Partnership Gone Sour

October 8, 2008

What makes a startup fail? I’ve been collecting startup horror stories, hoping to share some lessons learned.

This week brought a story with three classic elements of a startup “tale from the crypt:” technology, money, and people. This time it was technology (with attendant uncertainty and doubt), money (lack of it), and people (the dark side: their personalities). I hesitate to tell this chilling tale because it’s not over (and may yet have a positive outcome). But hearing it may save readers from a similar fate.

(read more) The Partnership Gone Sour

Web Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Job Description

August 30, 2008

A web startup client recently asked me for a CTO job description to paste into a business plan. Eager to oblige, I googled “Web CTO job description” and “web chief technology officer” anticipating it would take me five minutes to find what my client wanted. You’d think there would be a adequate boilerplate job description somewhere on the Net. But no, there’s no sharable, standard description of the work we do to run a web startup.

Here, then, is my first draft of a job description for the work I’ve done as a chief technology officer for web startups. You can find the entire article here: Job Description for a Web Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

After you’ve read the article, if you have anything to add or refine, you can leave a post, and I’ll update the article.

Startup Advice: When to Use a Consulting CTO

July 2, 2008

There are not many to be found. He or she might call himself a “consulting CTO,” “freelance CTO,” “on-demand CTO,” “CTO on call,” “CTO for hire,” or just a “technology strategy advisor.” Most likely, this is a person who is a serial entrepreneur and was the chief technology officer for two or more web startups. If you find him, he’s gold, and not only because of his knowledge and experience. He’s valuable because he will work on your project on a short-term basis.

In this article, you’ll find out how a consulting CTO can help you, when to use one, and how to find the right person.

(read more) When to Use a Consulting CTO