Finding a Programmer in Northeast / NYC for Web 2.0 Company


Where can I find a programmer in the Northeast United States to become a co-founder for a Web 2.0 startup?

To provide brief background: I do not have a coding background but have a strong business acumen given my experience in investment banking. Learning to code myself is not a realistic option given time constraints (my current job isn't accommodating to side ventures). I've detailed quite a few Web 2.0 ideas and have chosen the 1-3 that have strong promise after lengthy discussions with potential users, but I do not have the ability to take them to the next level without a committed programmer. As a note, I've applied to the YCombinator program for these ideas - however, I'm pessemistic in being accepted as I am a single-member team with no programming experience (2 qualities they are hesitant to get involved in).

I've been stuck in this situation before and am worried my idea will be thought of by someone else if I don't act soon (as it has happened before). I'm looking for a programmer that will work for sweat equity in the project and is committed for the long term (or at least some type of mechanism that ties compensation with the success of the site, rather than a one-time paycheck). One that can balance out the skill set necessary for success.

I'm willing to do whatever it takes to take the next step, I just need a qualified programmer who will take that step with me.

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asked Oct 28 '09 at 04:57
4 points

6 Answers


If it would just be you and the programmer, I doubt anyone will be dumb enough to jump into this for equity alone, unless you have a well-written business plan and marketing strategy.

answered Oct 28 '09 at 05:30
39 points


I hope that "sweet equity" means "at least half ownership, and pay him while he's working". Unless you have a close personal friend, you're going to have to sell your idea to your programmer, and sell him so well he's willing to forgo the certain money associated with having a real job.

There are many crap programmers out of jobs right now, but top notch technical people are always in demand, so your odds of finding one who wants to join you are pretty low unless you can convince them that your idea can change the world.

As others have said, ideas are a dime a dozen. Your programmer probably has 6 kicking around in the back of his head. Learn how to convince him that yours is better.

answered Nov 2 '09 at 15:03
Paul Mc Millan
601 points


Does "I need a programmer" mean "I have not looked into the details, and I am expecting someone to come around and simply implement what I have in my head"? I think that's why blekkzor took that attitude in his reply. It may be warranted, or it may not, given we do not know how much groundwork has been done by you already.

I think you should take one step back before looking for a partner, and put more substance behind your idea. It may simply entail writing it down, or practicing articulating your idea so as to win people over.

Your idea, as you expressed it above, sounds a little fishy. You may very well have a great idea, but the way you expressed it sounds a little like that of someone that has a vague idea that may or may not hold water, and is looking for someone to do all the busywork ("How hard can programming be? You programmers just sit there and type").

So, to set yourself apart from that crowd, I'd suggest first being able to state your situation in a way that convinces people that you are not just smoke and mirrors and there is high value to having you around.

For example: What kind of investment banking experience do you have? Why should anyone listen to you in particular? What is it that you bring to the table that the programmer/partner alone could not? Have you tried writing a business plan for your idea? You might need to, before anyone comes on board as a partner (or funds you).

I think once you get past that initial point, it will be much easier to find partners and get funded. Ideas are a dime a dozen, anyone can have one. You need to set yourself apart from that (and be able to explain it verbally very, very quick) in order to go to the next step.

answered Oct 28 '09 at 07:39
Gabriel Magana
3,103 points


I would go to a tech meet up in your area and make some inroads with the community. I know of at least 10 that happen monthly in Toronto, and I assume that NYC is no different. Make some friends there and show them you're not full of crap. Bounce your idea off of the people you meet, and don't worry about people stealing your idea. Great ideas are a dime a dozen - implementing one properly is priceless. Also, keep in mind that having an idea that could make money is a necessary but insufficient step to win over a potential partner.

You'll have to find a way to show that you're serious, and that you're willing to suffer and share the burden of being in a start up. But the best way to get that great partner is to be a good guy with a great idea and the willingness to market the hell out of your application.

answered Oct 31 '09 at 06:32
Max Cameron
56 points


Unless you have a solid concept of what you want, you will have a hard time getting a programmer to agree. It helps to know how to flesh out your idea so that it is easier to explain, so you may want to look at my answer to this question, as it relates to your question also. The problem is that even though you have the idea worked out on paper, you will have a hard time getting anyone to sign an NDA to hear your idea.

While you are working on fleshing it out, you can start to attend some developer groups, and see about expanding your network.

A likely source may be to approach a recruiter you trust, and share your idea and see whom he would recommend, or put you in touch with.

The advantage of this is that you get some pre-screening, and if it works then you should use that recruiter primarily for bringing in new people, and paying the fee for his work, since you will have outsourced that part of your business.

Recruiters can be very helpful in this situation.

answered Oct 28 '09 at 10:00
James Black
2,642 points


The question probably isn't "Where can I find...", it's "How can I find...".

Networking is going to be key. I had left a comment on your last question offering to get together for coffee or drinks, but never heard back.

Before my startup I had been consulting at quant equity shops for the last five years, so I thought I might have some contacts who'd be interested.

I'd have to know more details though. For instance:

1) What your idea is.

2) How much time per week you're asking for.

3) Sweat equity or capital you'll be providing while the developer is sweating for his share.

4) Business structure and partnering arrangement.

To be honest, it's going to be difficult convincing a developer to sweat for a partner who has a full-time job that "isn't accommodating to side ventures".

To give you an idea of what you're up against: A good developer could walk into the office of any TechCrunch50 finalist and work for equity. You have to answer the question, why should they work with you instead?

answered Nov 2 '09 at 16:41
448 points

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