What a technical co-founder brings to the table (and what he searches for in his partner)
For the past six years I have been mostly focusing on becoming an awesome developer, constantly learning new languages and technologies, working for a few different companies. But, the past month, everything changed, I became a consultant and started working on a per contract basis. And wow does that involve a whole new skill set: marketing, networking, designing my image, accounting, relationships, time tracking and plenty more!
As much as I adore the lifestyle it enables and the time I now have for side projects there is one oblivious truth that surfaces (don't worry I am coming co-founders): I am far from being as productive, focused and growing of a programmer than before.
You see, those added responsabilities of running a business really occupy my mind, I have more trouble getting "in the zone". Now this becomes even more prevalent when you add up the additional challenges/responsabilities of running a startup.
That is where, if you start a business with two partners, you have the advantage of the possibility of a clear separation in roles and a clear focused mind when at work. This especially important as a startups most valuable resource is time.
With that in mind,
The technical co-founder brings:
- Knowledge of best technologies to tackle X or Y problem
- Experience building products from scratch
- Estimation of feasability of different features/projects
- Estimation of time it would take to build X feature/project
- Initial workforce to build the startup's application
- Knowledge of what is a good hire when it comes time to subcontract/employ someone
- Often he will also be somewhat of a designer, UX guy and project manager.
- Deals/Talks to technology partners
The other co-founder brings:
- Domain knowledge related to the business you are starting
- Domain experience and knowledge of clients needs
- Takes on the initial marketing role
- Attend to networking events and generally gets the word out
- Constantly gathers client feedback and thinks of adjustments that can be made to the product to delight them
- Tries different acquisition channels
- Handles client relationships
And, together they both:
- Define the goals of the startup
- Define features that are musts and other that are nice idea for the future
- Talk about design decisions and how to delight users more generally
- Go fund-raising when it's time and if it's right for them
- Moral support!
TL; DR; For any startup time is their most valuable resource, it's their life blood at the beginning, they need to optimize it's usage. So, two partners starting a business should aim to maximize the time spent by the technical co-founder, head down, building their product. While, the other co-founder, aims to constantly readjust trajectory/features to fit client needs from feedback gathered and, more generally, build up traction, acquire new users.