Tech Startup Learnings: Finding a Co-Founder vs Outsourcing

Starting a tech startup as a business person, you’ll get all sorts of advice regarding getting the MVP for your vision built. Do you outsource? Or wait to build anything until you find the right technical partner for the long term? Everyone has an opinion, and I heard arguments from individuals firmly on both sides.

I am in the camp of finding the right long term partner. As a result, once I decided to do a tech startup in February of last year, I proceeded to spend the next 6 months scouring my entire personal and professional network for that perfect co-founder. I’m certainly glad I did, as it led me to Eric Roland.

What did that process look like for me?

A massive number of emails and phone calls (many on Skype since I was abroad much of the time) to friends, ex colleagues, and business connections. They generally followed the same pattern…

Me: “Hey, I’ve been starting down the path of building a travel startup and am in the market for a co-founder — know anyone I should be speaking with?”

Them: “Sounds like a cool project. Well, I’m not that person, but you might try talking to [insert engineer name] or [business person name who knows engineers]. I’m happy to introduce you.”

Me: “Thanks, an introduction would be amazing.”

Repeat that process, over and over and over and over. One phone call leads to another phone call leads to another phone call.

Which one of those conversations led me to Eric? One with John Rowles, whom I knew from his days blogging at BloodHound back in the heyday of the “RE.net”. He and I had met once or twice at conferences, and had some business development discussions while I worked at Zillow. He was a business guy, that knew technologists. I hadn’t spoken to him in 2-3 years, but timing worked out incredibly well as the startup Eric and he had been working on was winding down.

If you’re building a true technology company — then doing development in house is the only way to go in my mind. A technology company is not going to succeed with outsourced development, and in a perfect world, I’d rather have the right technical person at the helm from the beginning rather than trying to plug him or her in halfway through. If you’re doing a content/media business, or offline business that just needs a website, or if you need one specific product customized for your business but technology is not your core — then outsourcing is a viable option, and likely a cheaper one.

That’s just one person’s experience. Questions? Leave them in the comments…

PS – It goes without saying I owe a huge thank you to John for connecting me with Eric.

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Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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