但等等，如果你就是那個沒有技術技能、又想要創業的人呢？顯然，非技術創辦人還是可以很成功，看看 Airbnb 的 Brian Chesky 和 LinkedIn 的 Reid Hoffman 就知道。你要怎麼成功展現你的價值，找到技術共同創辦人？
我們為了回答這個問題，展開了一項非正式研究計畫，涵蓋超過 50 位技術和非技術共同創辦人。我們的統合分析具有量化元素（利用這些創辦人的部落格和文章，計算非技術創辦人應該有的特質）及質化元素（利用一系列一對一訪談來驗證想法*）。
更明確來說，尋找技術共同創辦人之時，必須要完成下列 3 項關鍵行動：
Taylor 並不是技術人，但他對於病患經驗擁有非常深厚的理解。想打造一間針對病患提供內容的公司，實在不能沒有他或像他一樣的人。因此，在他與父親一同創立 Zott 之時，就已經有技術領導者想加入他們。
又或許，你非常在乎這個問題，先前也曾嘗試解決這個問題。Taylor 在癌症緩解之後，就與父親創立非營利組織，試圖解決這個問題。他們共同創立慈善組織 Gamer Changer，與科技企業合作，為住院病童提供電玩和娛樂。至今，他們已經為住院病童娛樂募集超過 1,600 萬美元的捐款。
想像一下兩種情境。在這兩種情境裡，你都是一位在 Stripe 工作的後端工程師；有個朋友找上你，他想建立新式的點對點付款系統。
情境 A（低市場歡迎度）：你的朋友帶著幾張 Powerpoint 簡報找上你。他告訴你，他已經和十幾個朋友談過，而且他們似乎全都很喜歡這個點子。他雙眼閃閃發光地對你說道：「我們會成為下一個 Venmo。」
情境 B（高市場歡迎度）：你的朋友帶著一款非常糟糕的 iPhone app 找上你。這個 app 非常慢，但他告訴你，已經有幾十個人常常使用它，而且等待名單裡還有數百個人。他是因為嘗試自力解決這個問題，才換來這些顧客。他給你看了幾位使用者的強力推薦。他也雙眼閃閃發光地告訴你：「我覺得那裡一定有點什麼。」
以 Airbnb 為例。Airbnb 的非技術創辦人 Joe Gebbia 和 Brian Chesky 利用一封單純的電子郵件，創造了第一版的 Airbnb。郵件的內容十分直白：你可以在當地舉行會議期間，租一張他們房子裡的氣墊床。
顧客非常喜歡這樣的經驗，因為他們面臨嚴重的價格問題，也有幾個人決定註冊。有了這樣的初期資料，他們也找來了第一位技術共同創辦人 Nathan Blecharczyk。證明確實有不少住客想要這樣的產品之後，他們便打造並擴充平台，讓其他房東可以設立自己的 Airbnb、取得自己的住客。接下來的事，你應該已經知道了。
從低精確性邁向高精確性的範例。表／換日線編輯部 製作、資料來源／Daniel Wu、Stephen Turban
此處的關鍵詞即為「需求」。除非你想轉換職涯跑道，你並不是要成為這項計畫的科技長。正如 Yipit 共同創辦人 Vinicius Vacanti 所言，「我發現，我的目標並不是成為 Yipit 的科技長，而是打造能夠獲得市場歡迎的原型。」你的目標是學習足夠的知識，讓自己可以派上用場；但也不要過度投入寫程式，反而沒有將時間用於發揮你的價值所在──找出產品市場適配，並吸引早期顧客。
註：Dollar Shave Club和 Dropbox，都靠影片帶來了一輪募資。
Daniel Wu and Stephen Turban
Stephen Turban 唐文理／Seeing The World As A Foreigner
Stephen Turban，國際商業領域的知名主持人、作家、研究者和講者。Stephen 的文章見於
哈佛商業評論、赫芬頓郵報，亦是Tech In Asia的星級貢獻者；經濟學人、BBC Business News、華盛頓郵報、Tech Crunch、Tech Republic、Inc.、Quartz.com、PBS News Hours 等媒體，皆報導過他的研究。Stephen 畢業於哈佛大學，主修統計。
3 strategies to find your next technical co-founder without looking like an idiot
Develop expertise, traction, and technical proficiency. There’s no “business side” -- you do what it takes to build a viable business now.
Five words can end your start-up dreams: “I’ll handle the business side.”
For a generation of programmers, the idea of non-technical co-founders has gone from bad to meme-worthy. The image is unflattering - a bro-ey guy with outlandish start-up ideas who wants to use and dispose programmers on his path to CEO.
But, wait, what if you are a person without technical skills interested in a startup? Clearly, non-technical founders can be successful; just look at Brian Chesky of AirBnB or Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn. How do you successfully show your value and find a technical co-founder?
To answer this question, we began an informal research project spanning 50+ technical and non-technical co-founders. Our meta-analysis involves a quantitative component - where we use these founders blogs and writing to count the desired characteristics of non-technical founders - and a qualitative component - where we validate these ideas in a series of 1-1 interviews*.
Overwhelmingly, our founders agreed on one thing: viable companies can’t be split inorganically into business and technical “sides.” Experienced technical people know this. Instead companies require a melding of expertise, traction, and technical skills. As a non-technical co-founder, you need to build evidence you’ll make the business happen, not just handle the business “side.”
Specifically, we identified three actions as key for those looking for a technical co-founder:
Expertise - Show that (only) you can grow and sell the idea;
Traction for your idea - Prove that your idea is valuable and has traction; and
Technical proficiency - Develop the technical skills you need.
Action 1: Show that you can grow and sell the idea
Why you? You’ve approached a technical founder with an idea with traction. Great. Why would they want to work with you, instead of another friend? Or with someone else who is technical?
To prove your worth, show that you, and perhaps only you, can grow and sell the idea. The majority of our founders agreed that you need to show expertise in the users and the problem.
Take the case of Zott, a rapidly growing entertainment distributor company focused on children in hospitals. One of the co-founders, Taylor Carol, was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of 11. For the following five years, he was in and out of hospital wards - occasionally, stuck in isolation rooms for weeks at a time. As he put it, “Video games were my escape while receiving treatment for months at a time.”
Taylor isn’t technical; but, what he does bring is a deep understanding of a patient’s experience. It’s hard to imagine creating a patient-oriented content company without him or someone like him. So, when he began Zott with his father, they had technical leaders looking for the opportunity to join.
To attract a technical co-founder, you should show that you are the connecting glue between them and the problem. That becomes easier to do when it’s a painful problem you’ve experienced firsthand, like Taylor.
Perhaps you care so much about the problem, you’ve already tried to solve it before. After Taylor recovered from cancer, he worked with his father to create a non-profit to address the issue. They co-founded Game Changer charity, a 501c3 that partners with tech companies to provide video games and entertainment to children in hospitals. To date, they’ve raised over $16 million dollars for children’s hospital entertainment.
Your story is your pitch. So, document and show your experience, failures, successes around the problem. Show that existing solutions suck -- especially because you’ve tried them trying to solve your problem. Convince industry insiders to advise you and advertise their support. All of this makes you an attractive co-founder.
Action 2: Build strong evidence that the idea is valuable and has traction
A significant portion of the founders argued that a non-technical co-founder is in a stronger position when they have an idea that already has traction. The reason for this is simple - you can’t start a company by simply writing code.
Imagine two scenarios, in both you are a back-end engineer working at Stripe. You have a friend who approaches you with an idea for a new type of peer-to-peer payment.
Scenario A (Low traction): Your friend approaches you with a few Powerpoint slides. He tells you that he’s spoken with a dozen of his friends and they all seem to like the idea. “We’re going to be the next Venmo,” he tells you, his eyes glinting with possibility .
Scenario B (High traction): Your friend approaches you with an incredibly janky iphone app. The app is slow, but he tells you that a few dozen people are actively using the app and hundreds are on the waitlist. His customers came out of his efforts to solve the problem manually.He shows you some of the glowing testimonials from a few of the users “I think there’s something here,” he tells you, his eyes also glinting with possibility.
If you’re like most people, the the glint in your second friend’s eye is more attractive. Instead of having an idea in the abstract, the fact that people are using the app -- and better yet, a scrappy version of the app -- shows that there’s interest and potential for growth.
How do you build traction for an idea? As our founders argued, you have to test hypothesis with increasing amounts of fidelity; then track the results and show the interest.
Take Airbnb for instance. Airbnb’s non-technical founders Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky’s created their first iteration of AirBnB with a simple email. Its contents were straightforward - you could rent an airbed at their house during a local conference.
These customers loved the experience since they faced the price problem acutely and a few people signed up. With this initial data, they recruited their first technical co-founder -- Nathan Blecharczyk. After proving that plenty of visitors wanted this product, they built a platform and expanded -- supporting other hosts to set up their own Airbnbs to get their own visitors. The rest is history.
What Airbnb did, was create hypotheses, which were increasingly close to the real thing. Then they tracked the results using easy-to-understand metrics - such as number of sign-ups, number of people who have used the prototype, etc. When they approached a co-founder, they weren’t coming with simply an idea; they had the beginnings of a small customer base excited about their work.
Action 3: Develop the technical skills you need
Finally, 63% of our founders agreed that being the “non-technical founder” does not mean that you’re technically incompetent; rather, it means that technical development is not your focus as a founder. You can - and should - contribute technically; but, make sure it’s an area you can learn quickly.
Take front-end. The single highest percentage of our founders agreed that non-technical founders should learn front-end and a little back-end. Learning front-end is important because it’s technically easier and can help you iterate quickly through products.
The key word here is “need.” Unless you want a career change, you’re not going to become CTO of the project. As Vinicius Vacanti, co-founder of Yipit put it, “I realized that the goal wasn’t for me to become Yipit’s CTO. My goal was to build a prototype that got traction.” You’re goal is to learn enough to be useful; but, not focus so much on coding that you don’t spend time on your value proposition - finding product-market-fit and attracting early customers.
Many founders argued that having technical skills is about developing empathy and credibility. The more technical you are as a founder, the more you understand the trade-offs. That empathy, in turn, leads to credibility. When you propose a strategic move, your co-founders know that you’re coming from a place of understanding.
Start building your business now
We understand that finding a technical co-founder can be hard. Great hackers are a precious group; they’re being flirted at from all sides: big tech, other co-founders, their own start-up ideas, even non-profits. So don’t wait for a technical co-founder. To succeed, you are willing to do what it takes to build the business. Build expertise, traction, and technical proficiency. Start now.
Agree or disagree? Comment below with your experience as a technical or non-technical co-founder!
Daniel Wu is a tech lawyer with a JD/PhD from Harvard, focused on urban innovation. Shelterforce, Urban.us, and Product Hub have featured his work on how technology and law can advance affordable housing and transit.
Stephen Turban is a well-known host, writer, researcher, and key-note speaker on international business. As a writer, Stephen’s work has appeared in the Harvard Business Review, the Huffington Post, and he is a star contributor to Tech In Asia. Stephen’s research has also been covered by the Economist, BBC Business News, the Washington Post, Tech Crunch, Tech Republic, Inc., Quartz.com, and the PBS News Hour among others. Stephen graduated from Harvard College majoring in statistics.
Photo Credit：Jacob Lund@ShutterStock