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  • Writer's pictureLeo J Barnett

How to find a Tech Co-founder (CTO) - Everything you need to know


How to find a CTO co founder

I've had a few co-founders in my time so have learnt a few things about what makes a co-founder great and how to spot red flags early. I've also worked with various clients that have been on their co-founder journey's and learnt from their stories too.

Here we cover: 1. What you need ready before your search 2. Where to find them 3. Do Due Diligence 4. Green Flags 5. Red Flags 6. Getting started 7. Co-founders agreements

8. Work with a trusted dev team alongside



1. What you need ready before you search The more you have ready to hit the ground running, the more seriously you might be taken. Unless they're someone that wants to get involved from the very start. But they need to see you know your vision and can execute your side. - Ideally you'll have a solid idea together easily understandable and written up on one page. - Hero designs of 3 - 4 key app screens or a fully designed app ready to be developed. - Validated by up to 20 key users - A website with landing page - A V1 Brand - Know the technical expertise needed. React? Swift? Video tech? Data curation?



2. Where to find a CTO


Speaking from personal experience, I've previously found co founders in the following places.

Create your profile and a job description that clearly outlines your mission. workinstartups.com foundersnation.com Bumble Bizz

Headhunt on Linkedin & Github


Ideally you want someone that's worked on something similar to your new venture. BUT you can absolutely work with someone who's clearly passionate about the space you're in with strong technical experience elsewhere that wants to learn. Being a co-founder is a really about personal growth. Good developers love the challenge of learning a new language that can boost their CV and skills in the future. If a promising developer tells you they want to learn this is an excellent sign. Just make sure they've excelled in alternative areas before. 3. Do Due Diligence

It can be exciting when someone looks perfect on paper! But you must do some due diligence. Speak to to previous employers Ask why they left previous projects Don't be shy for references. It's all business! If someone is shady about making that happen....red flag. Be careful. There are so many horror stories of people working with CTO's where it's all great and exciting for the first few weeks or month and then goes down hill. More on that in the red flags section!


HIRE SLOW! - This should be one of the slowest hires you ever make. This is a marriage and a marathon you'll be going on together. Spend a few months waiting for the right one.



4. CTO Co-founder Green Flags These are the traits i’ve found to be winners and the ones I love in my co-founders.

An unmistakable thirst to grow and learn - They're on the journey for success for the project and personally. Take on a marathon and enjoy the journey no matter what the outcome. Desire to make $$$. They think about the business plans not just the code. Challenge and contribute to roadmap and strategy. Surprise you by going above and beyond. They share research and articles on the infrastructure they're working on to you even though you probably won't understand it. Read it! Learn a little each time. They can teach you a lot. On the pulse in their domain. They know THE news to stay ahead of the curve


Matched work ethic - They work as hard as you do. Probably in evenings and on weekends!

Never have to chase for work, or will always update well in advance if there's a change of plans. Bounce off and challenge ideas and strategy.

Never leave you waiting around for responses. Hold YOU accountable too. Healthy social and family life! You should be able to feel like you can go for a beer / coffee with this person and not talk about work. 5. CTO Co-founder Red Flags Here’s the Top Tier red flags to look out for with new CTO co-founders. These are crucial to look out for and shut things down asap 1. Not doing work / Showing up / Not responding 9/10 this means it's game over. You cannot operate a business with someone that doesn't show up or doesn't give reason to not showing up. Say they're going to do something and don't? Finish it. You cannot work with these people. Full stop. Get rid ASAP! 2. Not pre-warning whether completed tasks will be later than expected Coding is hard and timings are not definitive but you want to work with someone that's as transparent as can be with delivery. 3. They don’t share code repository information Access to code from day one is essential. Set up a shared Github repository. Move on if you can't do this. TRUST is a huge factor in this working relationship. 4. Can't provide references / vague reason for leaving previous project

Be careful. If they give you nuggets of info on a messy previous project. Do whatever you can to get both sides of the story. 5. Work not matching designs

Set standards and expectations EARLY. To succeed these days you need pixel perfect design. It's the CTO's job to bring the designs to life. If things are way off the mark early on you may be in trouble. However you should make it clear it needs to be perfect. If it's not working i'm afraid to say it may be best to move on.


Front end design isn't the hard part but it's an easy way to assess the quality of everything else that might be built behind the scenes with the attention to detail. 6. Getting started You've found a great match and done your due diligence. Hopefully met in person too! Before signing contracts of forming a company you just have to get working. They have to show you they're down to roll up the sleeves and start taking moves. This should be the driver before anything else. TO BUILD! You're really jumping into a phase of 'Can we actually work together' and see this happening for the next few years. Great if they're enquiring about shares etc but the work is the most important thing, because if you're not going to enjoy each others company or style then nothing matters. - Treat each other like you would your highest value clients. Same work quality, same professionalism.

- Go 50/50 Equity - Agree to split all operational costs - Make roles clear - Write them down. Make it clear what YOU will be focusing on.

I REPEAT - Access to code FROM DAY ONE. Most co-founder horror stories end with the CTO holding the code to the project to ransom.


7. Getting formal Happy you can work together? Excellent! Create a co-founders agreement. Get in touch for a template. 8. Have a B team! Have a back up development team at your side to always ensure things can move forward. If you need a B team at your side, myself and team are always here! We can ensure early code quality is strong and work alongside your CTO to speed up progress or be a safety net if it all goes pear shaped. We've seen it happen so many times. Alternatively work with a team that feels and behaves like the best co-founder you could possibly have. www.leojbarnett.co



Conclusion


This is such an exciting and important part of your mobile app journey if you're going down the co-founder route. If you find the perfect match its a dream come true as you start building the future. Be super cautious from the start even if everything is great on paper. you'll only really have a true idea of how things will be a few weeks in when you start seeing results and how communication is going. Quality work and clear consistent communication are everything. My teams and I can be here to guide you and work alongside your project if you need. Good luck! Leo
















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