How to find a technical co-founder without compromising our company's plans?


We are a team of 2 and we hit an idea about a social media startup some time back.
Everything said and done we know that we don't have a tech cofounder.

while we look for one we don't want to discuss our product idea far and wide and compromise it in the long run.

How to safely find a tech co-founder without compromising our company's plans? What safeguards needs to be in place?

Co-Founder Strategy NDA Terms And Conditions

asked Jun 30 '11 at 05:26
73 points
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4 Answers


I get asked this question about 10 times a week I think.

Your question however isn't really "how" to find one as much as how to deal with a person once you've found someone. First off, you should have a level of your idea that you don't mind sharing without an NDA. As a developer myself, I don't want to sign an NDA with every yahoo looking for a tech cofounder. Give me the gist of the idea and if I'm interested then we can look into NDAs. I don't have time to sign an NDA with everyone, much less keep every "business guy's" "it's like Groupon" idea straight and not inadvertently violate an NDA because of a very vague idea.

If the idea is so basic that you can't give someone a basic idea without compromising the idea then your idea is weak. You'll have other problems, such as a larger company copying you as soon as it gets any traction (assuming its actually a good idea). If it's really that indefensible I wouldn't even bother with an NDA.

It's hard being a non-technical cofounder in the early days of a tech startup as those guys really have all the responsibility and power. I'd make sure you find someone you genuinely like and can get along with.

answered Jun 30 '11 at 09:58
Ryan Elkins I Actionable
894 points
  • +1 because "I don't want to sign an NDA with every yahoo looking for a tech cofounder." and "I'd make sure you find someone you genuinely like and can get along with" – Bertrood 12 years ago


Your "safeguards" are a combo of a confidentiality agreement (a.k.a. NDAs) and a non-compete agreement.

answered Jun 30 '11 at 05:32
1,383 points
  • Thank you. Is there a resource from where I can access a standard version of these documents? – Vishal 13 years ago
  • I use Nolo or LegalZoom for templates. – Alphadogg 13 years ago


Yes you should protect your intellectual property, but that's only necessary once you've actually asked them to write some code.

What I do is hire someone as an independent contractor and pay them for their first contribution to the startup. Before they start working they need to sign a document that makes it clear who owns the code.

Then if you both work well together and want to move forward you can discuss moving forward with a mix of equity and cash, but under the same agreements as before about the code belonging to the corporation not any one individual.

answered Aug 1 '11 at 06:48
Blaise Freeman
16 points


I am a tech founder. I think that a NDA is a good start.
Someone has already said that the execution of a plan is more important then the plan itself. You want to make sure that before you get into details of the startup your candidate has potential and willingness to participate. My absolute favorite on this is Paul Graham ( )

answered Jun 30 '11 at 08:17
46 points

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Co-Founder Strategy NDA Terms And Conditions