In the last year or so, I’ve helped ship or led teams for 8 or so projects! I know quantity does not always outweigh quantity, but nonetheless I am excited and energized by this feeling. These projects have been used by tens of thousands of people and featured in places like CNN, Forbes, and Mashable.
Hopefully, they’ve helped make the world just that much better .
I love launching products. I love turning ideas into reality. I love making things better for people.
The question I get most often, specifically from “non-technical people,” is: “where do you find people to work with?”
I’ll provide a bit of context about me before I dive into this answer.
- I am studying Finance and Computer Science at school right now. I know a number of programming languages (frontend and backend), but let’s just say I am not the fastest. I am far from the fastest. In many of the projects I am involved in, I do not write a single line of code.
- I do, however, have lots of experience in product/growth roles working with others! Engineers. Designers. All sorts of people.
Okay that is me. You reading this have your own set of skills, likely far different from my own in your own unique way. Good. (and if you do not know how to define those yet, that’s fine, I’ll address that later).
The challenge is to (organically as possible) find people who share your passion for creating and translate that into launching products.
The lazy way to describe this process is that there is no true process. There is no recipe you can follow to magically find co-founders. There is no website that you can sign up for to meet your future co-founder. (well there probably is, but none I would ever use). It is a long, unpredictable process. You have to get lucky. You need people to take chances on you. Lots of things you cannot control.
Rather, we are going to focus on what you can control.
The first is setting your expectations and understanding yourself. This is something that people glaze over quickly. They feel confident enough to go start asking others, but they forget about figuring out themselves.
Start by asking:
Do you want to build a company? A little side project? Passive income? Who cares you just want to ship? What are you passionate about?
These are generally hard questions with no right answers. It’s worth trying to figure them out for yourself.
The counter to this would be that any “forced measure” for finding co-founders is inorganic and will surely fail. Many will tell you that you should only work with people you know, and know well.
I think this counter has a point and you could adopt that approach. I am merely presenting an alternative viewpoint — and that is using purposeful and direct outreach to start conversations with people…Work on little things with them and understand how to work with them before taking the leap of faith on some grand idea.
Anyways — back to figuring out yourself. Once you know your own goals. Procede to the hardest step: defining your value.
You have to ask yourself what value do you bring to a team. This is where a lot of people I know respond back with:
“I don’t know how I can be valuable.”
That is okay. If you are not “technical”, it can seem hard/daunting/intimidating to be the “odd one out.”
Luckily, and something you realize the more you build things, there are SOOOOO many other things outside of writing code that are CRITICAL to the success of a company.
Note: Get good at those things.
What are those things?
Here is a list, that you can start with:
Writing. Emailing. Product Vision. Selling. Cold calls. User interviews. Being a catalyst/motivational. Organization. Finances. Legal work. Leveraging connections. Advertising. Social Media. Research. Management. Hiring. The list goes on.
Startups and projects need an incredible amount of work. Any work is valuable. You just have to do it.
The more you work on projects the more you learn about yourself and how you can best add value to a team. It’s a process, not a binary thing. You won’t figure this out on day one.
Once you figure out yourself, or at least get an idea of it, the next step is to simply start conversations with people.
Who are these people?
Well, think about what types of people you want to work with. If you do not know, begin by just reaching out with general questions and narrow your way down.
Where to find them?
a) Make a Product Hunt account
There, you’ll find a list of the best products every single day. Reach out to the founders of those projects and companies and ask them questions. Provide them value. See how you can be of help.
Keep in touch with them.
Do things that don’t scale.
b) Make a Twitter account
There is a huge community of tech people who LIVE ON TWITTER. No, Twitter is not dead — the tech community is obsessed with it.
Create an account (I did last March) — and join some conversations. Follow people. DM them. Ask for 10 minutes to chat.
Ask them specific, tactical questions. (no one has time for generic asks)
Then stay in touch.
Send people interesting articles. Recommend introductions.
Continue to follow up.
The key is to provide value.
Lots of people approach conversations with the mentality of what can I get from this person. I believe that is the backwards way of thinking.
Rather, think what you can do for them!
PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS
Do not tell people you need a “coder.” That is a general phrase that does not really mean much.
It is 2017. Use google, talk to friends, figure out exactly what your specific asks are.
Try to empathize with engineers. Their time == money. Be cognizant of that!
Yours does too. I just see, time and time again, biz type people ask the wrong questions which immediately kills conversations.
As you can tell, I am really passionate about this because I think that building projects is not only a great way to learn & meet people — but also a way to truly change your life and, if things go well, the world!
You never know what your little project will turn into.
Just go for it!
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