I am in the very early stages of my first startup. I am not technical so I was wondering if getting a technical cofounder should be my first step or if I can go it alone with just my idea at first? I was considering hiring a developer for the just beta version or just a front end application so I have something to pitch besides just a hypothetical idea. My startup is a new music sharing program. And if I can go it alone at first when should I bring a tech cofounder on board?
You should get a technical co-founder. You are wanting to run a software business, you really are going to need someone that understands software well.
Otherwise you are at risk of wasting plenty of money trying to get it built (it's hard to manage a software project, that's why so many fail).
Having a successful software business isn't easy, and that's for people that really know software. I wouldn't make it even harder on yourself and try to do it with a disadvantage. Get someone on board that compliments your weaknesses and strengths.
The real question is hired gun techie vs. co-founder techie.
Both have pros and cons. You need to calculate them well and make a decision.
Hired Gun Techie: pros : cheaper than co-founder, does not own share of your company, fixed price for hours of work.
cons : may lack passion, treat you as "a job", may quit at any moment for someone paying $25 more an hour, leaving you with halfbaked goods that may prove a challenge for someone to pick up and continue, may be throw-away work that cost you top dollars.
co-founder Techie: pros : owns a part of your company, will more likely have commitment to see it done and succeed. has the know how to get it done, technically. May work for shares vs. getting paid from the get go.
cons : you give up a part of your company for him/her. If it doesn't work out between you two, separation may be costly, painful, "bloody" and can bring down your company/idea.
Verify whether there is a there there.
Ideas are worthless - execution is what matters. And by execution, it doesn't mean launching a site. It typically means finding an opportunity, doing enough research to determine how large the opportunity is, and then validating as much as you can before doing any heavy lifting (read major code development). Many times it doesn't even require code.
Also of note: your technical co-founder will also likely want to know that you've done the research before committing - otherwise, it's all risk for her/him.
You say "new music sharing program" - you need to be able to answer what is the target market, what problem are you attempting to solve / what is the value proposition you intend to offer your prospective customers, how they achieve this now, and how willing are they to adopt your approach. Also - what is the current competitive landscape (what your customers would compare your solution to).
If the niche your attempting to address is large enough to be a sustainable business and support a full time hire, then go get a technical co-founder: you will have all the info necessary to hire a good one. Otherwise, work through your validation steps and hire part time techies to fill in the knowledge gap until you latch onto something.