Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Finding Startup Developers - First Email Contact

Here is the most recent version of an all too common email inquiry from a startup founder.  I've removed the two words that described the market - otherwise this is verbatim.
I'm working on a start up idea in the XXX market with my partner and we are currently looking for full stack developer to join us as a technical co-founder. We have been reading about the LA CTO Forum and we thought it would be a great place to find him/her.
Please let me know if you can share this information with your members. 
Paris Tuileries Garden Facepalm statueI've written before about having an Initial Conversation with a Potential CTO.  That post and How to Find Programmers for You Startup - a Field Guide both lay out a lot of the tactics that will prepare a founder for important early conversations.

The above email is SO BAD that I feel compelled to treat this email as a special case so maybe I can help other founders before they send this email.  Or at least send them a link to this post if they have already sent something like the above and let them know what I would have wanted instead.


I don't think that this founder has looked at my blog or my background.  If they had read either of the above articles or the 10 other on my blog, then they would have sent me something else.  So, why should I spend time if they've not spent time?

Startup and Founder Backgrounds

This is a cold email. I don't know the individual or his partner.  And I don't know anything about the business.  If you want me to take you seriously, then get me interested.  What background do you have?  Why is this a great startup?  What have you done so far?  This should be your elevator pitch. Get me interested.  And please include LinkedIn URLs so that I can easily find your background.

Of course, this needs to be "elevator size" - 3 to 4 sentences.  Otherwise, I won't get to your ask.

Think About Your Ask

Likely many startup founders, they want help getting their startup concept built.  The way they expressed it "technical co-founder" is code for find someone who will work as an Equity Only Developer.  It's really hard to find and super competitive to find developers who are going to jump on a concept and build it.  That's not going to be a successful outreach.

Go read the above posts and you'll hopefully reframe the question and do it much better the second time.