To: Solo founders, those looking for cofounders & non techies looking to co-found a company
From: Matt Quinn (2 time non technical co-founder, ACA)
Subject: RE: Found with the right team
I have a chain of ideas on the structure of a founding team swirling around my mind and it is time to get them on paper.
I've co-founded 2 companies, have advised countless others and am quite aware of our industry in general - and something I see over and over again is the right and wrong cofounding team structure.
As an aside I'm starting to believe both of mine were the wrong structure.
The meme of founding teams being some spotty coders in a basement is not a bad one. In fact it is a pretty good starting point. We build technology. That is how we move the world with low marginal cost/energy.
The free availability of technical resource is paramount to an effective founding team of a tech startups.
In both of the companies I co-founded I could not code, and was not the CEO. In both of them the partner with computer engineering chops held tightly to the CEO reigns.
Now, I am not suggesting that tech CEOs can't be coders in any way. Just that if you are the sole technical talent in a tech startup you should not be the CEO.
The CEO, the moneyman, needs to be able to court investors, listen to users, keep her mind free of git repos, code challenges and bugs and above all drive the pair forward.
The CEO needs to focus on what you're building not how you're building it.
There are plenty of tasks a non technical non executive founder can keep themselves busy with, many of them impactful.
BUT it will never be the best mix of prioritisation. The moneyman needs to be the CEO and the code wizard needs to ship code.
From my POV, it is pretty silly that my founding teams had me as the non-exec and the non-technical founder.
This is not a critique of my co-founders Chris or Elliot. They both gave a gallant effort.
I think it is healthy to wonder what would have happened had I taken the executive reigns.
And you should too.
I know now, I feel very grounded in the idea of being the executive and am pretty excited for my next venture where I'll be the CEO.
And for you - don't found a team where the non CEO is not a builder.
As for this pairing in real life? See Jobs & Wozniak or Thiel & Levchin