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How to find a technical cofounder on social media

Tips and real-life stories from founder who managed to build strong partnerships online


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Ana Bibikova

2 years ago | 4 min read

Sarath Kuruganty came to the US from India to complete his Master’s degree. No, not on programming, on analytics. Soon after his graduation, Sarath landed a job in Walgreens. Ir was not bad at all — challanging project, great team to work with. But as many young man comming to the US Sarath had a dream. He invisioned himself a startup founder. Perhaps, not a unicorn but something that will make a difference.

There was one big problem: Sarath knew nothing about coding (and still does not). He also was not a part of cool San Francisco environment where aspiring entrepreneurs mingle tigether, collaborate and find tech cofounders just by turning over the corner. What Sarath had, was a group of followers on Twitter.

Again, not mind-blowing but definitely something to be proud of: 3K followers. And, honestly, talking to different people on Twitter, supporting them, was something that Sarath truely loved.

One day a tweet from one of his friends KP popped up on Sarath’s timeline:

It was a “shoutout” — endorsement of someone on social media and tagging this person. It’s not a big deal, just a line of text but it is something that is usually valuable for thsi particular person tagged in the tweet.

— What if I had a place where I store all shoutouts where I’m tagged, — thought Sarath. — What if everyone had this place?

Finally, he got an idea for a startup! What he wanted to build — was a “place of love” where everyone would go there to feel invigorated, energised, loved and noticed. The monetization was supposed to come from enterprise customers who would want to embed all the soutouts on their landing pages as a social proof.

Remember, Sarath had no skills to actually build this service! Where did he start looking for a cofounder? Obviuosly, on Twitter. But not straight away.

The proof of concept

First, Sarath created a landing page using no-code tools and a Twitter account for Shoutout.so

Next, he shared the idea with his followers. Then he posted a tweet asking people to share what they are working on and promised to give a positive testimonial aka a shoutout about their work. The thread went viral and got more than 100 comments.

Later Sarath personally spent a solid time on each product and gave a shoutout. This simple campaign brought Shoutout 40+ on the waitlist. When the wait list was over 100 people, Sarath finally put a bat signal on Twitter:

In just several days he got 5 great candidates and chose a tech cofounder. In under 4 month a fully coded version of Shoutout came to life. It’s a successful project that is getting traction with every passing day. The carzy part? Due to his public activity and cofounder search on Twitter, Sarath’s followers’ base grew up to 15K and he landed an even better job — a community manager with Product Hunt. Now, he’s in the middle of startup founders community. In case he needs a tech cofounder next time, he just has to post a tweet.

Real-life stories

In my course How To Find a Tech cofounder I explain the reasons behind Sarath’s success in this no doubt challenging task of finding a tech cofounder, and why Twitter is a great platform for you if you’re on this journey.

There are many success stories aside from Sarath. Michael Novotny (@MichaelJNovotny) found a tech cofounder on Twitter for his side project nocodeacquire.io. Kenneth Cassel (@KennethCassel) found a cofounder Bhanu Teja P (@pbteja1998) on Twitter too. All these pairs have never seen each other in person. They had no connection prior to Twitter. And yet, they have decided to start a business together. And so far, it has worked wonders for them.

LinkedIn is NOT your first option

I’ve already talked to several people who bought my course, and found out that their initial though was to go with LinkedIn. I want to discuss this social network a bit here (though, I have a section for LinkedIn in my course, too).

If you also believe that LinkedIn is a great option for cofounder search, let’s think together: what makes you choose this social network? Is it because people put their skills in their profiles there, and therefore, it’s an easier platform for skills-filtered search? But what do you actually need? Find a cofounder? Or make a search task easier? Sometimes, these goals contradict each other.

Finding a cofounder is definitely far from fishing but in this case it is a good comparisson, I believe. To catch a fish you have to figure out:

  • where does it hang out
  • what exactly doest it like

It makes no sense to go the the pond that is closer to you and hope to catch something, if there is no fish in the first place.

Now, back to the tech cofounder search. You’re looking for a person with a technical background, yes. But not only this. You don’t need a person on a job search — they have other priorities in their lives now. You need a freelancer. Or a student. Or a non-techie turned techie who is looking for ways to practice their newly acquired skills.

Are these people even on LinkedIn? Why would they be there if they are not actively looking for a job?

I always suggest using LinkedIn but only to get some factual information about a person. What I see is that active and open for collaborations talented engineers and developers don’t use LinkedIn so much. The reasons are the following:

  1. LinkedIn in general is a less active network. The majority of the accounts are dormant — they pop up once or twice a year to make some changes in the profile.
  2. LinkedIn lately is overpopulated by sales reps, marketing specialists trying to sell you something, headhunters and crypto cults. There is too much commercial information and just too little value. All in all, it makes LinkedIn not the best space for finding a cofounder.

Let’s cap up

If you decide to go with social media and find a tech cofounder there, Twitter is much more promising option.

However, finding a tech cofounder on Twitter is not as straightforward as you might have used to by trying over and over LinkedIn Messages. You can’t just DM a person on Twitter: ‘Hey, I have this amazing idea, would you like to build it for me”. This social network has totally different rules. And that’s exactly what I teach in my course.

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