How to find a Technical co-founder? Search Google

Written in 2020

I’m currently looking for a Technical co-founder for Since I’m at the pre-money stage, it’s going to be just me and this other person. I’m looking for some fairly simple requirements:

  • A full-stack Developer
  • Ideally, someone that has used Edamam API (this is the food database API I intend to query) and Google’s speech-to-text API

Thinking about finding a Technical co-founder, I didn’t have past experience solving this problem. I intuitively know from 10+ years of past experience working with Engineers, that getting some belly-to-belly time is about the only way to find one.

So my next step was to search Youtube and see what the “gurus” are saying. A common approach kept appearing, over and over:

  1. Ask your immediate network and close contacts
  2. Ask Engineers you have previously worked with
  3. Join a dating/matching service which helps you find Technical co-founders
  4. Find a job where you are in close contact with Engineers

I haven’t tried the first 3 methods just yet (though I intend to reach out to someone from the past) and I definitely won’t be joining a matching service (I would guess that those events attract Engineers that have a bias for packages and compensation).

Number #4 is dumb. Why go through all that effort? That doesn’t seem very “first principles” to me.

Here are a few ideas nobody talks about:

  1. search Google.
  2. search Youtube for Engineers that made a tutorial
  3. search Reddit
  4. post a job on Upwork
  5. search Stackoverflow
  6. find a group on Facebook

Number four, I have already done. You can see that job post here. I know the general consensus with Upwork is that you won’t get good Engineers, but that hasn’t been my experience in the past.

Number one, searching Google, turns out to be a fantastic way to find Engineers, assuming you have very specific requirements that show up via long-tail keywords (less traffic, more specific).

In my case, for the POC, I’m looking for a developer that has used the Edamam API before, ideally for one of their own projects. I certainly could find a co-founder that doesn’t have prior Edamam API experience, but I will make that compromise if this approach doesn’t work out.

Searching for “edamam API” resume full stack developer GitHub in Google brought some pretty good results:

TIP #1: use quotes around the words that must appear in your search results. In my case its “edamam API”.

TIP #2: add your local city if you prefer to deal with someone locally. I did this and only got two results. You can expand it to your country or state/province as well.

TIP #3: add the word “resume” and “GitHub” into your query. I get mixed results leaving either of these words out.

Adding the word “resume”, in particular, has some very important benefits:

  1. They will have put up a resume detailing their past experience. That tells you they are “all in” with development
  2. They probably looked for work recently. Otherwise, they wouldn’t put up a resume.
  3. They probably are not working at one of the GMAFIA BAT companies (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, IBM and Apple, aka G-MAFIA and Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent “BAT” in China).
  4. They are on Github. Kind of important if you are an Engineer.
  5. They have probably freelanced or contracted at some point before.

What do you do next?

  1. Visit each link
  2. Connect with each of the Developers on LinkedIn/Github and send them a short message.

Here is the message I sent:

Hi [insert name of developer here] I discovered you by searching for “edamam api developer”. I’m the Founder of I’m at the very early pre-money stage and building a POC at the moment.

I’m curious if you are looking at new opportunities or interested in a co-founder role? I’m happy to tell you more about it and share the application that I’m finalizing for YCombinator. If this email doesn’t interested you, please do let me know so that I can remove you off my list. Feel free to share this with your network if you know a developer that might be a good candidate.

Thanks so much!

I will let you know how this works out in a future blog post and also talk about my experience searching Youtube/Reddit. Without seeing the data, I would guess that contacting Engineers cold in this manner will have much lower conversion rates compared to people I already know. It won’t surprise me at all if I get one phone conversation out of 20+ connections that I make.

If you end up using this approach, leave a comment and let me know how it works out for you.

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