Where to find a part time coder who will code for free with me in return they become a partner?


I am a developer and I have a few ideas for web apps to build which can create revenue.
I work full time and can only work on a project in my spare time. Because I am alone, I figured it would take me forever to finish a project to production. Not because of amount of work alone, but because I don't have enough incentive to put enough time and sweat in it.

I also don't have money to pay someone. So my idea now is find another coder who has similar skills and ambitions. We both work on it, encourage and push each other and hope we can make it and profit from it. There are thousands of coders who work for free on open source projects so why not work on on a project which can make money for the participants and maybe start a startup from it.

I have no plans to quit my full time job. This all can start as a hobby which can go up to be a profitable venture. I have started and ran a full web hosting company for 10 years.. by myself.. while having a full time job. So I know it can be done with another idea.

I am having a difficult time finding a local coder who is in a similar position and has similar ambitions. I tried meetup.com, local user groups and an ad on Craigslist which got removed because it was for a non paid gig. Next I will try LinkedIn although I prefer not to announce on it publicly.

I might have to broaden my search away from local. I wanted local so I can meet and work together occasionally with someone, instead of being 100% virtual. This is like finding a tennis partner. Instead of hitting the ball against the wall, find a partner and play a real game.

There's a site called builditwith.me. It might be of help although I am guessing people are expecting to get paid. I am looking for similar sites. I am seeking and any suggestion which I can use.

If sites like Stackoverflow.com allowed questions for seeking coders, I would have posted there.

I am not seeking funding of any kind. This is not a full time thing and I know investors do not invest on people who are not committed 100% to the venture. Everything will be self funded and boostrapped.

Getting Started Micro Startup

asked Sep 30 '11 at 06:28
Tony Henrich
283 points

5 Answers


Not because of amount of work alone, but because I don't have enough incentive to put enough time and sweat in it.

These are your ideas. If you don't have incentive to put time and sweat into them, how are you going to convince someone else to put their time and sweat into an idea they didn't even have? Usually, you can do this by paying someone money to work on your idea. Or if you're a great sales person, then you might be able to convince some college student who is desperate for any sort of work that might, sometime in the distant future, turn into something that will make them a decent wage (I have been this college student, and I've always stopped working on someone else's project once it became apparent that they didn't have incentive to put time and effort into it).

There are thousands of coders who work for free on open source projects so why not work on on a project which can make money for the participants and maybe start a startup from it.

Every open source project that gets beyond the basic "setup a github and put up a version 0.01" has had the original creator putting in time, passion, and sweat and blood to get the project to the point where it develops momentum and attracts other developers. Not only that, a lot of open source projects do end up making money (usually as a non-profit setup, sometimes by providing 'corporate support'). In almost all cases, open source projects work because there's other people that say "this is a cool idea, and I would use that in my job/life/hobby/etc". This might also be true of your existing ideas, but if that's true, chances are good that someone out there has had that idea (or will have that idea).

So, now that I've ranted a bit, how does one go about finding a partner to help with an idea? If you really have no budget, the first step is to build a prototype. Either a very rough mockup of what you want, a barely functioning version, or just a very detailed design document describing what you want. A prototype will help when you do the next step: go to meetup events and user groups locally, and show off your prototype. If you get someone who is interested, email them once you get home (or at least within the next few days). Set up regular meetings with them (ideally, weekly, monthly at least). Give them direction, keep them interested. This is the hard part, and is where a lot of "no budget" ideas fail. If you're not going to do the dirty work of coding, then you need to do the much more dirty work of managing them (and possibly the dirtiest work of finding people to pay money for the product).

Within about a year of this, you'll have a basic prototype that you can launch and hopefully begin to make money off of. You'll probably be working part time managing the coder and setting up business contacts and everything else. You say you've done this before, so you should know the rest.

Of course, you could just find a college student and ask him to make a website for you (it'll be horrible and full of security holes, and he'll walk off once he gets overwhelmed by school or gets bored of your idea or gets a paying job or you stop sending him design info).

answered Sep 30 '11 at 07:40
201 points
  • * I said enough incentive. I didn't say I have no incentive. Working alone in lonely nights is harder than working with someone else. We can bounce ideas and working together is a push to work harder and longer. * I don't have much faith in college students. They don't have enough idustry skills. I might be spending too much time couching & training them and fixing their code. I might try that route. – Tony Henrich 13 years ago
  • * I am refuting people's suggestion that no one codes for free by taking the open source example. I am aware of how open source projects work. BTW, a miniscule of open source projects become commercial. I am not planning to make mine open source.. for several reasons. Thanks for your input. – Tony Henrich 13 years ago


I know you want to maintain some control, but you better be offering near 50% equity for this person to feel equal. Ideas don't really have much cash value. Many developers are looking for mentorship. Look for college age CS majors. Like the recognition and experience from an open source project, you could be offering those as well.

It would be interesting to know how you are pitching this offer.

answered Oct 1 '11 at 06:59
Jeff O
6,169 points


The answer to your question is "nowhere". Why would someone donate their time to you, on the off chance that they may make some money in the future? Keep dreaming buddy

answered Sep 30 '11 at 12:08
James B
81 points
  • * You can also ask why do some people donate their time coding on open source projects when they don't use that product anyways and they get nothing in return... at most their name shows up in the list of contributors. * I'll tell you why: 1- a chance to learn and use cutting edge technologies when their day job doesn't provide that chance. 2- They own source code which can be used in interviews & in their current day job. 3- What's wrong in pursuing something that might actually make money in the future? If they didn't make money, at least they updated their technical skills – Tony Henrich 13 years ago
  • Open source projects are different in that coders are motivated to contribute to the community, not to someone elses pocket – James B 13 years ago


Based on answers I received from different sources, I decided to puruse it myself. It seems there could be an amount of distrust from both sides, myself and the other which could cause a lot of friction. Example: the other coder upon project completion might run off and create their own business from our work. Probability for disputes.. etc are issues I don't want to worry about.

So my decision is to outsource parts of code which could take me a long time to develop or I am unable to do, to different coders. My job then is to clean up their code, make it fit into my design and assemble the pieces together. Outsource by bidding by task instead of by hour to minimize cost since I don't have much money to spend as this is a side project and not a living earning venture.

Forget about partnering or sharing with anyone. If I build it by myself then I don't have to share profits which could accrue over many years. Recurring profits which could come from work that has been done only once.

answered Oct 1 '11 at 02:33
Tony Henrich
283 points
  • I think you're on the right track. – Tim 12 years ago


I know that the first answer everyone thinks is "do it yourself" or "pay". But the question isn't about a car-enthusiastic looking for a mechanical-engineer to build his dream car for free, and then share the profit if it sells.

There are some ways I could think of kickstarter or indiegogo, you could write up your project and ask for funding. Granted the chances someone is willing to pay for an idea is pretty slim. But if you know how to write code yourself some mock-up a little design. It says a picture is worth a thousand words. It would go a long way. As for someone stealing your idea well thats a risk every start-up takes when they go looking for funding. Who would fund something they don't know. NDA is out of the question since you are asking for their time for free. Time is money. Plus everything is about execution not idea.

For example I'm making up an idea now:

why not write a freelancer or elance clone for programmers, where programmers sells/buys code snippets. Good documentation etc. would be very valuable if you could get a facebook connect for $25, or sleek membership system for $50 and could ask questions and get help for it. $25 will save me 6 hours of work, and will cost the seller 15 minutes since they already did it.

I can easily say that execution of this idea would take 3-4 months of full time programming not including design. If you like it is free :)

As a person who has written freeware and done some open-source projects I can say that, unless your project is going to be opensource and free they are not even remotely related.


answered Oct 1 '11 at 04:11
141 points
  • No one will fund someone who is working on a project in their spare time. – Tony Henrich 13 years ago

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