Why you don’t need a programmer

Once or twice a month I get the question from an aspiring entrepreneur that’s been pushing their idea forward in hopes to (very soon) create a company out of what they’ve been working so hard on. 

They’ve spent countless hours working through all the details of what this new product will do, who they’re going to partner with and what they’re going to charge for it. They may even be on the Lean Startup bandwagon and actually talked with potential customers.

A lot of work has been done and now all that is need is one thing - someone to code it up. They know it isn’t going to be “that” difficult because they’ve already spent those countless hours thinking through all the “complicated” stuff. Now you just need to push things to the next level - production. 

Of course money is a little tight but if someone like myself could just introduce them to a programmer - they’d be able to show them everything they’ve worked on and a programmer would be willing to help out nights and weekends to make this app a reality. 

Each hopeful “entrepreneur” has their reasons for why this programmer would get involved. At the end of the day, everything is sooooo close it can be tasted and a few weeks of someone whipping out some code will allow them to officially bring everything to reality. To the market.

At this point when I’m talking with the soon to be entrepreneur about this “simple” production requirement in their ever passionate vision of the future, I have just one thing to say: “You don’t need a programmer - you need a technical co-founder”. 

I say this for a variety of reasons that I may write about later but the main one is that you shouldn’t outsource your core competency - that being your app. There are so many different things that go into developing a product, that simply leaving that in the hands of someone that has no vested interest or long term-commitment to the health and well being of it is not just risky, it’s unintelligent. 

Who’s going to help tweak the app when users don’t understand how a feature works? Who’s going to fix bugs? How are you going to deal with the unforeseen growing pains of your site? Who’s going to make your life easier by automating various tasks? and soooo much more. 

This isn’t necessarily the problem of the aspiring entrepreneur. It’s the programmer’s fault. To many programmers aren’t correcting people’s language to say “co-Founder” -  they’d rather act in disgust by how unknowledgeable this “idea person” is and brush them off while telling their friends how stupid “these people” are. Or worse off, they’ll help them out for a bit but not treat it as the serious endeavor it is. 

If the conversation was simply changed to - “It sounds like you’re looking for a technical co-founder and here’s why…” it would be much easier for the programmer to simply say “I wish you the best of luck but I’m not interested in being a co-founder on this venture”. You could possibly be helpful in recommending another programmer that the new venture fits closer with and they could see if their interested in becoming a technical co-founder or not.

This has an extremely profound amount of value to everyone involved. The person asking is now that much more educated and the programmer may get the opportunity to actually work on something crazy enough to make real change in the world. 

With all this said - I’d like everyone to start saying: “I/You need a technical co-Founder” and begin to help others understand why this is so important. 

Note: I could easily switch this whole article around to all those programmers that think creating a company is as simple as launching an app. You’re just as stupid, so start asking for someone to help you grow what you’re working on, ask for a co-Founder.

UPDATE: a bunch more comments are also being had over on Hacker News - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3773084