I'm developing a new service about content analysis all by myself and being alone isn't the best environment in which to develop a business service.
2 people working together are always better because they share feedback, insights and find issues more quickly. From creating the MVP, collecting users data, choosing together towards which direction the development should be eventually focused on.
That's a workflow I'm eager to build but being a solopreneur would give me only a "limited set of elements" to develop my idea (knowledge, time, tools, etc.).
Long story short: how can I fully grow this project when I can't find a co-founder?
Having guided several companies through the same exact problem, I'll say that there are practical ways to tackling this problem. In fact, the same solution applies to finding a non-technical cofounder, key employees or even adding people to the overall team.
The key lies in focus. You need to first figure out what expertise you possess. Then clearly identify what problem your startup is tackling. Then, you need to approach people who worked (or work) in top companies closer to your focus area and complement your expertise. Your startup must have a clear focus to succeed not only in attracting talent but in just about any stage of the venture. So focus is essential.
Once you're clear on what you know and what you want to do, it's not that hard to research companies that tackle similar problems. LinkedIn is an amazing place to start your research. You can easily connect with the people you found through common connections or the InMail functionality. Another great resource is data.com which used to be called JigSaw. If you know who you want to work with but don't know their email, try data.com. It's quite likely that you'll find their contact information. If you're working on something very technical, then research academic papers or patent filings. You should be doing this anyway. Keep track of other people who have worked on these. Contribute to working papers if you can. These places provide you with SOLID contacts within the domain of your problem but again, you must be clear about the problem.
Now these resources make information available and enable your first touch. But you have to be brief, honest, and humble in your inquiry. Ask for a brief call or a cup of coffee. If they accept, great, again, keep it nice and short and to the point. Engineers are pretty analytical and straightforward people. If they like you, they do, if not then not. Stay in touch and exchange ideas from time to time. Perhaps you can tackle a problem via email for a while. It's about building relationships from there. Study the art of building relationships and work on it every day.
Remember, everyone wants to connect and grow. And everyone can be a bit anxious and scared as we all are from time to time. So approach technical people with respect and at the least, you'll make a new friend.
What city are you in? Are you talking about your product or do you keep it secret?
Finding a team is one of the most difficult parts. Make sure you ask friends of friends if they are interested. People often forget to tap their network to find talent. There are a lot of events that help find startup co-founders. Cofounders lab does a meetup group, you might want to check that out.
Hope this helps.
It's hard to vet non technical co-founders. Really hard. Unlike developers they can't always (though sometimes can) show you, "here's what I did." They don't benefit from the same kinda portfolio like a designer/artist or developer.
That said, you could go to meetups in your area (if there are any). Network a bit. You gotta put yourself out there and you can't be afraid to talk about your idea. You might even find someone else with the same idea.
More importantly, figure out what you need a co-founder for. It'll be easier to find one then. You'll know what questions to ask and what to look for. Are they helping you find finding? Find customers? Market the idea?
As far as how you do it alone? Self-education. Both programming and design lend themselves well to self-education. Marketing does as well. Especially these days with the internet and social media. You don't necessarily need an MBA, but if you can pick up just a tiny bit of the skills you need to market and push an idea out there, you're going to run into someone to be your business co-founder a whole lot easier. You'll also better be able to evaluate them.
A common antipattern I see in people creating a startup is that they seek out cofounders to complement their skills the same way that they would seek out an employee. (This is true both for non-technical cofounders seeking technical cofounders and vice versa.) They’ve got checklist of skills and qualities. They go out and try to find people that match their checklist, enthusiastically talking about their idea and trying to enroll them in their idea. This comes from misunderstanding the difference between thinking like an employee and thinking like an entrepreneur.
An employee is someone who is enrolled in your vision. Good employees fill in the gaps in skills and resources that the company needs. But employees don’t care as much about your vision as you do. They get paid for their work; they risk less and have less ownership of the business (both literally and figuratively.)
Entrepreneurs are *creative*; they’re always creating something new. They have their own visions, their own dreams. When entrepreneurs work together it is to create something synergistic. (I’m speaking here about people with an entrepreneur *mindset*, which might be independent of whether they are actually a business owner.) They take more business risks and are significantly more invested in the vision, because they helped create that vision.
Entrepreneurs are also learning-oriented. If they lack technical skills, or business skills, or people skills, they learn what they need to do to address that. They learn those skills. They hire employees. They ask for help. They know what they’re good at and what they’re not, acknowledge that they can get better at anything given enough time and focus, and get really creative about what they focus on and what they don’t.
So if you’re looking for a cofounder, don’t try to sell people on your idea. Find people who have a similar passion, and create something even better.
i have been there (Assuming you're the technical one). Many times. i know the pains. Esp. the pain of switching contexts and fighting with oneself, as the different hats have orthogonal or sometimes contradictory goals/needs/interests and u have to keep all of them inside your head.. and not blow up. And not mess the code. And not mess the UsrXperience. And not mess the system as whole. And you probably would not even think of the Business hat.
Or if u do, it would be wrong, probably - too many other biases.
My solution so far has been to find a small variant of the thing where i am the end-user. And build it for myself. No business at all. Maybe show it to someone else who can be user. Or co-developer. etc. Thus keep it alive, in a form, until u find The business-person. Or become the one.
So far my success rate in such finding.. is below 20% (i've rejected becoming the one myself). 1 out of 5 projects.. or less. But don't despair. Maybe u live in place - or application domain - with better business-persons climate. Keep looking.
Maybe i can give u more insights (or traps to avoid). Or just listen to you, attentatively. It's sometimes enough to clear one's mind about things.
Been there, done that and got the t-shirt for it. One of the hardest thing is selling a dream & a promise to grow. And because we all have our own bad experiences alot of people tend to be scared away from this commitment. I think choosing a cofounder is sometimes harder than marriage, in essence it is probably a lifetime partnership but co founders and early stage teams are the most important part in starting your business.
Start by looking around you, start doing a background search for each person you think is a good potential to be your partner then go & pitch your idea to them with full enthusiasm to show them how much you care the more goals & relatable you are to their goals & current missions the better chance you will find the best suitable partner. Don't take anyone who will say yes, they gotta believe in the idea as much as you.
I wish I can help you if you can tell me more about what is your profile like & what kind of partner are you looking for. Wish you all the best and good luck for your project :)
Very simple and very brief...
I suppose you want someone to help you on execution but you don't have the funding.
You have two options:-
. ether get funding : check venture capitals, seed investors, angel investors , incubators ...etc
Also, something like kickstarter can help you raise funds..
And then hire the candidates you like.
OR the shorter part..
Hire people that work for EQUITY instead of money . Something like https://angel.co/ has multiple similar jobs, and you can also get a co-founder there as well..
One last option, go to recruitment offices in universities / colleges near by, and you they can help you find candidates that are interested to join. Again, better have people work for equity. If you are looking for someone to work for free , will be difficult to find good candidates. But lots of newly , or close to graduation students have entrepreneurial passion and willing to join some new startup that is willing to grow and grow with it. This is the type of students / fresh grads that you will be looking for.
Good Luck !
Get in contact with tech recruiters who are often in talks with serial tech cofounders who are looking for a new startups to join. Recruiters normally charge a fee for this, but at the early stage, you may find recruiters who will work out an arrangement with you. Placing the original tech cofounder is a sure-fire way for a recruiter to own the relationship exclusively with an early stage startup. If the recruiter believes in what you're building, perhaps they will be willing to defer payment until the company has funding or is otherwise in the position to pay fees, or work out another equity-based agreement. Ultimately, I would only select one recruiter for this type of assignment, but you can speak with several to see if they're interested. Make sure the recruiter you select is proven in exactly this type of effort... ask for a reference from another startup non-tech founder where the recruiter placed the tech cofounder.
I am also a solopreneur as well and also in the process of building an MVP so I can sympathise with your perspective. I am also a trained Business Coach (a management skill I gained 6 years ago), and what strikes me from your particular question, is that your main assumption “2 people are always better than one” may actually be coming from your work preferences.
It sounds like you are an analytic thinking extrovert and that you probably work best in an environment where you get feedback from others which helps you to clarify your thinking? Not all people are like this, many developers for instance are introverts and work best when left alone to solve problems. So if this is the case, the solution does not need to be finding a co-founder, but could just involve you creating an eco system around yourself that gives you the “sounding boards” and human interaction it sounds like you need. This could come from joining MeetUps, to finding a business Mentor (in the UK you can access these through the UK Government Growth Accelerator initiative for SMEs), and even finding a shared work space like a TechHub or Google Campus where other entrepreneurs will be around for you to interact with them for free.
You might be nicely surprised to see how well you can develop your idea without finding a co-founder, and instead bring in the skills as employees as and when needed to fill skill gaps you don’t have. The starting point therefore is the simple question “if you had the right people to bounce ideas off and clarify your thinking around your new business concept, do you think you have what it takes to build a business on your own?”