I am starting a technology company and looking for partners. My background is more business than technology, and I don`t have too much technical or work experience. I have an idea and a plan. I consider myself a more big-picture thinker and strategist. What kind of person should I partner with? And as I look for a partner, everyone says to kinda "date" around to find the perfect one. What characteristics should I be looking at as I pick a partner? Thanks guys!
Why are you starting a technology company if you have limited experience in technology?
I meant that I have more of a business background in the field of technology than a technical background (coding, development, etc). And even my business background in the field of technology is just a few years.
Ah...okay, so you`re more the business person, and you`d be looking for a production engineer. Is that the case?
If so, you`re not unusual. In fact, many production people don`t
understand business and don`t want to understand it. Just as there are
some people who thrive on selling, getting customers, opening channels,
so too, there are people who thrive on the back-room detail management
of building a complex product.
The best possible partnership would be 1 person who makes things, 1
person who sells those things, and 1 person who keeps track of all the
I understand that overall.. I should look for those people who complement
my expertise. But more on a specific level, what qualities should I look at
when I look at a technical person? or a sales person? to make sure there
skills go well with mine.
That is a very good question and one that I am dealing with at the moment. I myself have a web startup (about comic strips) based on a concept of mine but I have no technical expertise to build it. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who is a project manager at a web development agency, has an interest in comics and a bit of entrepreneurial spirit. So I partnered with him. When the site idea hit me, I didn`t even have to think twice about who I would ask.
His technical knowledge is more general and on the management level and while these are great qualities for building this business, it turns out he doesn`t have the skills to actually build the site. So we are currently seeking a third partner.
The main thing I am looking for in our techie partner is that entrepreneurial zing. Does this person want to build a company? Do they understand the risks involved? Are they willing to work without pay until the site eventually makes money, regardless of how long that takes? How passionate are they about the work? Where are they in their personal lives (since building a business is a life choice, not just a work choice)? Do I think I can get along with them? Do they believe in the project as if it is their own, not as an employee? What are their goals, personal and professional?
And of course, do they have the technical skills to do what you need? But I want to know if they really have what it takes to collaborate on a successful startup.
I agree... I think I can easily identify whether there technical skills will complement mine. I am more worried about whether I am going to be able to work with the person, if we get along, etc. Like you were talking about. I am not sure how to gauge that... until we actually embark on a venture, and then its probabaly too late to go back. I mean I just want to know what type of questions to ask. I like the idea of where they are in there personal lives, because it matters how they view the business, whether its going to come first in their lives or second to something like family. What other things do ppl think matter?
Hm...thinking about it, this is a whole lot like starting a band. I`m a
keyboard player, don`t play drums, and even if I did, I can`t play both
at the same time. So what do I need in a drummer?
First, they have to have the skills, and those skills must be either as
good as mine or better. If they`re better (not by too much), they`ll
push me to do better and to learn.
Secondly, they have to agree with the overall concept and vision of the
"band" (company). If we`re going to do Las Vegas shows, they have to
have the personality to be willing to do schtick, comedy, drama, and
get dressed up. So a jazz player likely would be a great drummer, but
wouldn`t fit in with the intent of the band.
Third, we have to get along reasonably well in personality areas. For
that, all you can do is hang out together a couple of times in a social
situation, where business isn`t the main focus.
Ultimately, it comes down to an audition, or jam session. If they don`t
have the right level and mix of skills, none of the other issues
matter. But if they DO have those skills, the other issues are
That`s an interesting idea about skills not being too much better... so saying I have 1-3 years in business / tech experience, it would be bad to partner with someone 10+ vs. someone who was only 3-5 years?
There`s a difference between a partner, and a mentor.