I’ve talked about what it really means when an entrepreneur asks you to join their new startup venture as a tech co-founder. If you haven’t read it yet, go ahead and click this link. It talks about the truth underneath that question in great detail and I’ve learned that the hard way. Hence, hopefully, you won’t make the same mistake as me being so naive at the beginning of my engineering career.
This time, I am going to talk from an entrepreneur perspective who has no engineering background. I will go through the most common example and include all the thinking process from the time you just started out as an entrepreneur all the way to where you will usually end up to. Hopefully, you can learn from it and choose what best for you.
Nonetheless, the good thing is that most of you are coming from sales or marketing background. you have the magic skills to convince prospects to reach to their pocket and pick up their hard-earned money and pay for anything you are trying to sell. So, think about it for a second, if you already have this magic power, why not apply the same methodology to convince engineers to move their fingers to their laptop and start developing the software for you. All the engineers need to build the product is a laptop and wifi. It seems easier than selling since you are not asking for their money this time. All you need is to convince them that we can turn the dream into reality and become a millionaire together.
The strategy will work out since you have the magic power to sell a product and the only difference is that this time you are selling an idea or a dream to be more precise. In the end, you usually can convince a handful of engineers to come on board as a tech co-founder after a few tries from either networking events or social media. However, what happens next is when the engineer (become co-founder at this point) starts to develop the software, it usually takes at least 3 times longer than what they are promising initially. For example, the first MVP usually takes 3 to 6 month at least to build up from scratch on average for a small-size project, but it usually ends up at least one or two years to finish up the project. Hence, in the third or the fourth month, you most probably will end up feeling lots of frustration and eventually kill the idea since the development process seems never going to end.
You need to understand that it’s not the idea that is causing this problem. It’s all about the approach you are taking from the beginning. To understand this, you need to know the reason why the engineer usually takes much longer time than what they initially promise. It’s not that they want to lie to you. They simply don’t know how to estimate. Why? Because they are usually junior engineers who just started out their careers from either schools or coding bootcamps.
Junior engineers are usually more optimistic and think that they can conquer the world with their newly learned software skill. They usually imagine themselves become the next Mark Zuckerberg, next founder of Uber, and so on. I was one of them when I just started out as well.
However, junior engineers don’t have enough experience and skill to estimate the timeline of a project. The worst thing is you don’t know either and you usually turn down all the opportunities to work with senior developers since they usually estimate at least double the development time than what juniors do. So now, you know finding a technical co-founder for free will save you money in the beginning, but will cause you failure in the long run and will learn the hard way wasting all your time and energy. Now you might wonder what other approaches you can take to avoid all these pains then? I will answer this in my upcoming article.
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