Here's my situation. A year ago I outsourced a website to be built. Went into it blindly, failed miserably, lost tons of money. Moved on.
In the meantime, I've come up with a new concept for a business. I've learned absolutely everything I can about the infrastructure of the web, various technologies, etc. Taught myself HTML/CSS and am now learning jquery. The business is a simple web app, not any groundbreaking technology by any stretch of the imagination, seen it done a million times. Ive been the project manager for the whole site, and am now about a month away from launch.
I have a highly ranked, seemingly trustworthy developer from odesk that I have hired (not cheap), based in Russia. I have a CMS and reporting tools that I believe will allow me to manage my site and business without a whole lot of technical expertise. I understand that web apps are constantly evolving and never finished, but after my initial launch and feedback, I am not going to add features for about 6 months, and instead focus on building traction with a MVP.
My problem is that finding a good developer was tough, and I worry if im going to be able to find one to just maintain the site once it's done , and add small features here and there. With the competitive nature of any business,, I don't want to get into a situation where I need a feature developed, or ongoing maintenance, but I would have to wait until my current developer finishes work for another client, which could take weeks hypothetically. This could be a Huge competitive disadvantage.
I also don't want to bring a tech cofounder on board and give away equity since my project is almost 100% complete and I won't have a lot for them to do. More than anything, a tech cofounder on the team would make me more comfortable operating the business, but maybe a simple consulant would do just fine, and If push comes to shove I can find a local web developer (stateside) to do small maintenance on the site. Even though this will cost more money, it will still be cheaper than giving away equity..
My other concern is that SO many people here seem to make a big deal about having a tech cofounder, that I want to make sure Im not making a huge mistake by not getting one. I want to do everything right, because there is a strong demand for my service, with a proven business model, and I have customers ready to pay. Some context: I'm 24 years old, single, few responsibilities, and have plenty of money to hire whoever I need- which is what I've done so far.
If you were in my position, would you hire a tech cofounder to help with technical decisions, work for equity and maybe a little pay, and overall just bring someone in to the picture that can devote 100% of their time and abilities. I am a little scared about giving away control, since this is my baby, but if it will help my business, I'm willing. I just want to do the right thing and don't want to prolong the inevitable, if indeed the inevitable is that I will need someone with a strong technical grasp in my inner circle- even though this is simple technology. I would love any advice! Thanks for reading.
Business focused people have a tendency to underestimate the value of a skilled technical person. Likewise, technical people tend to do the same in reverse.
Even if your site is simple now, if it takes off you'll need the kind of scalability experience a that only an engineer with a number years at the front line has. Software engineering done properly is a gulf apart from knowing the syntax of a language.
A guy from Google once said it takes 10 years, full time, to learn how to program. The only developers you'll find disagreeing with this are those who don't have 10 years, or those after at least 10 years clearly aren't going to make it and don't understand where they are lacking.
I'm not saying give the person equity, but the number of times I've seen people try to get their lead technical person on the cheap, I've honest lost count. The number of times this strategy has succeeded, that's a nice, easy to remember, round number.
But for balance, it works both ways.
If you have no internal technical professional and you are a tech based business then you need something. You don't need a founder/shareholder if you have cash to pay a third party or consultant but if you don't have the cash then go find the best tech pro you can and offer him some shares. You will be bootstrapping your business and ensuring against redundancy.
Scenario: Russia descends into civil unrest. Your developer disappears and you have an important client wanting some changes to your app.
This isn't a problem a business manager/owner should be spending time on while trying to run/manage and build a business. What a businees manager/owner needs in a scenario like this is the knowledge that the CTO or tech pro or tech co-founder knows exactly what resources are needed and what needs to be done to action teh changes that secure the clients financial input.
I wouldn't hire a tech cofounder if I were you, and this coming from a software developer. Look at your startup as a whole to identify your competencies and skills. Obviously you have the business side and technical side, and as you said the app is not overly complex warranting a solid developer. So look at what you don't have, maybe marketing expertise or someone with experience launching and exiting from a startup (and someone who knows how to raise money if needed).
Only bring in people when you absolutely need them. You may not need any cofounder at all.