There are many ways to find a cofounder. But my platform of choice is Twitter. It opens access to many talented engineers and developers. It helps to establish a connection. It creates an environment of trust. Read here how others have done it.
The story of Shoutout
Sarath came to the US from India to complete his Master's degree. Then worked for several years as a business analyst in Walgreens. But, sure enough, what he dreamt of, was his own personal startup. Perhaps, not a unicorn but something that will make a difference.
There was one problem: Sarath knew nothing about coding (and still does not). He was proficient in UX design and analytics. What he loved — was talking to different people on Twitter. One day a tweet from one of his friends KP popped up on Sarath's timeline:
It was a so-called shoutout — something that people on Twitter post hundreds a day. Perhaps, not so many actually care. But it felt sooo good for these particular people tagged in the tweet.
— What if I had a place where I store all shoutouts where I'm tagged, — thought Sarath. — What if everyone had this place?
This sounded like a beautiful idea. And a win-win on both ends. Every person who has this special "place of love" would go there to feel invigorated, energised, loved, noticed. On the other hand, if you want to know more about a person, this "place of love" is a great starting point — you'll see what this person is endorsed for and what others say about them. Moreover, this idea could be repurposed for B2B needs and companies and brands can use these "places of love" to showcase on their landing pages or as a social proof in commercials. All in all it sounded like a plausible business idea.
Did Sarath start with looking for a tech cofounder to build the product for him? Mind you, it was not like Sarath had nothing to offer from his side. He had a solid UX experience and a good following base on Twitter (3k followers). Meaning, he had all the tools to design and ship the product as well as promote it via his own channels. Therefore, he could theoretically hire a developer to put together a prototype real quick and become a 100% owner of the platform.
Instead, Sarath created a landing page using no-code tools and a Twitter account for Shoutout.so
Next, he shared the idea with his followers. Then he posted a tweet asking people to share what they are working on and promised to give a positive testimonial aka a shoutout about their work. The thread went viral and got more than 100 comments. Later Sarath personally spent a solid time on each product/newsletter and gave a shoutout. This simple campaign brought Shoutout 40+ on the waitlist. When the wait list was over 100 people, Sarath got to work. He created a very basic MVP using no-code again just to showcase how it's going to work. As people from the waiting list started using the service and sending their feedback, Sarath finally put a bat signal on Twitter:
In just several days he got 5 great candidates and finally, chose a tech cofounder. In under 4 month a fully coded version of Shoutout came to life.
Other Real-life stories
In my course How To Find a Tech cofounder I explain the reasons behind Sarath's success in this no doubt challenging task of finding a tech cofounder, and why Twitter is a great platform for you if you're on this journey.
There are many success stories aside from Sarath. Michael Novotny (@MichaelJNovotny) found a tech cofounder on Twitter for his side project nocodeacquire.io. Kenneth Cassel (@KennethCassel) found a cofounder Bhanu Teja P (@pbteja1998) on Twitter too. All these pairs have never seen each other in person. They had no connection prior to Twitter. And yet, they have decided to start a business together. And so far, it has worked wonders for them.
why not LinkedIn?
Why is Twitter so great when it comes down to finding a tech cofounder? Why not use LinkedIn instead (reasonable assumption keeping in mind that it's much easier to search for someone with a tech background on LinkedIn, right?)
But an easier search does not always mean the best answer to your question. As one of the students who purchased my course and who had failed many times to connect to someone on LinkedIn pointed out:
— I only used LinkedIn to find a cofounder because it was just easier to outreach. But I kept on hitting up people who were looking for a job not the partnership.
And it makes perfect sense, actually, when you stop to think of it. Going to where it's easier for you to look for someone and hitting people randomly is not the best strategy. It’s not only about cofounders. Look at the advertising market. More and more ads that you see are targeted and re-targeted at you. If you don’t own a dog chances are very low that you’ll be exposed to numerous commercials with dog food or dog training classes.
Setting up the wide net and hoping someone will come by is not enough anymore. To “catch a fish” you have to figure out:
where does it hang out
what exactly doest it like
You’re looking for a cofounder. Presumably, you know exactly what kind of skills you’re looking for. What tech stack do you need. And you definitely don’t need a person looking for a job — they have other priorities in their lives. You need a freelancer. Or a student. Or a non-techie turned techie who is looking for ways to practice their newly acquired skills.
These people are not on LinkedIn. Or, let's put it like this: they could be on LinkedIn, they are probably not just active there.
I always suggest using LinkedIn but only to get some factual information about a person. What I see is that active and open for collaborations talented engineers and developers don't use LinkedIn so much. The reasons are the following:
Content disproportion between account host and commenters. Unlike on Twitter where everyone is limited to 280 symbols, LinkedIn offers no borders to cross: you can write away as much as you want. As a result host-posts tend to be long while comments are short and in majority, not very informative. Mostly, commenters come to support, like or celebrate the host in any way. This builds the atmosphere of monologues instead of dialogues and an absence of general discussions. If someone disagrees with an opinion – they just do not tap “Like”. Because the community is supposed to be for professionals no one wants to offer controversial opinions or disagree.
LinkedIn in general is a less active network. The majority of the accounts are dormant — they pop up once or twice a year to make some changes in the profile. It’s tough to get to someone through DM or even commenting on their posts — because they don’t post anything. The most active accounts on LinkedIn — marketers, sales people and talent hunters. Your best bet is to follow them and hope that sooner or later they will get you to a desired account of a talented developer.
LinkedIn lately is overpopulated by sales reps, marketing specialists trying to sell you something, headhunters and crypto cults. There is too much commercial information and just too little value. All in all, it makes LinkedIn not the best space for finding a cofounder.
Here’s how I see the difference in connections you’ll be able to find and use for your benefit on Twitter and LinkedIn.
However, finding a tech cofounder on Twitter is not as straightforward as you might have used to, by trying over and over again LinkedIn Messages. You can't just DM a person: 'Hey, I have this amazing idea, would you like to build it for me".
A playground called Twitter has totally different rules. And that's exactly what I teach in my course. You can check it out if you are interested in this topic.