I have been working in my head (and on paper) on an Idea for a Web Application for a while. I am a software engineer and have required skill set for designing and managing the application however i'm lacking the ability to market and sell it. I am looking for a partner/s to come on board with me and take the business development side of the business and wondering if anyone knows of any platform where I can find such people (ideally In Australia as it is my first targeted market, however US should work as well)
Web 2.0 Entrepreneurs Business Plan
First, you need to define as far as possible the market for your web app before you start building. Your goal is to arrive at a product/fit, but you have to come at the problem both from the direction of defining who has it and how they want it solved (the fit, market part) and building the app itself.
Second, you need to define what this app is about and who wants it before you add a partner. business development/marketing is not like Vegemite that can be applied to anything with the same results: do you need a b2c, b2b, b2gov or b2dev type "marketing person" If you're selling an app where the typical sale is say $10,000 USD and up, this marketing person's contacts/network/reputation are very important.
Third, lots of people have ideas - getting someone else good excited about the same definition of the idea means you need some way other than words to communicate that idea and show you have more than just an idea. A prototype. A mockup. Something.
Finally, with 1,2,3 above covered, good news! Here's three ways you can find a minority-ownership (because you can build it without them, but they can't build it without you) partner:
I should have said this a while ago, so here it goes.
Just get off your butt and build the app yourself already! You can spend days or months designing something on paper, but:
With regards to business development, marketing, sales, and all the other more business like facets, you'll either be able to learn them along the way, or once you've got something built (maybe not complete) you'll find it easier to find someone in those areas to join you.
So once you've got something built, at least a rough prototype, you can head to the local meetups and network there to try and find someone with business experience. I'd say check out the usual places: meetup.com, facebook, linkedin, and others that are local.
This is pretty much what I've been doing myself (building a startup in Australia), I'm a technical guy but have been learning about all of the other fields as I go along. So if I can do it, anyone (that's motivated) can do it too.
Ziggy, This is partially to answer your question and partially about some of the other answers. I too am a tech-oriented founder and have been looking for bus-oriented people to work with me on my startup. It's not easy and there are no easy solutions. Having just launched my product, here's what I've done/learned along the way.
1) Don't build anything and don't spend too much time designing anything until you have talked to some customers. This is very hard for me and most other tech-oriented founders because we don't like reaching out to people as much as we like building stuff. Figure out who you want to help, and if you have an idea of how you can help them, that's great. Go find some of those people who you want to help and sit down with them for an hour and make sure they really need your help, that you're working on an issue that is critical to them, and that it is something they will pay you for. A couple of good books at this stage are "Four Steps to the Epiphany" and "A Good Hard Kick in the A--" ... not sure you'll be able to find the second one.
Now many tech founders at this stage are saying, "but Scott, the thought of finding some people to talk too, and reaching out to them makes me want to puke and that's why I want a bus-oriented co-founder." True, cold calling and reaching out to people is not easy for me, but it's critical in figuring out if you're building a product somebody wants before you actually spend the time to build it.
I got around this by hiring an MBA student for a few days to get on the phone and call a bunch of companies in my area, let them know that we are trying to learn about their industry because we were thinking about building a software product for it, and asking them to help us. She got me more than a dozen meetings, all were very helpful, and many became my beta testers.
So to get through this stage, maybe you don't need a co-founder, maybe you just need an MBA student who wants some experience and some extra cash.
2) Build something that solves a problem for the people you have talked to and nothing more! Even having some companies work with me, my inclination was to build too much. Unfortunately, I didn't figure this out until I started showing it to some of the beta testers and some features I thought would be absolutely required to be competitive just got in the way and confused them. They all pretty much said “yes that's nice, but I don't care.” So I spent a week pulling out features I had delayed the launch to include. Keep it small, keep it focused, and build only what you have to. But I have a good jump on V1.5, but I need to make those features easier to use.
3) Now that I'm at market, I'm still a tech-oriented founder with no bus-oriented people working with me, but I have a product. This makes it a bit easier to have real conversations with bus-oriented people about joining my organization. If I didn't have any money, I might find it easier to recruit a partner. I have money so I'm looking to hire.
Some other single founders I know at this stage have done the following:
a. Find commission-only sales people or consider a profit-sharing arrangement with some bus-dev/sales people in your network
b. A number of universities have sales-oriented MBA programs. My local one is about to graduate 63 people and I'm trying to get in to pitch the class. If I can find someone whose goal is to start a company in 3-5 years, spending a few years working with me may be a great continuation of their education and really prep them for their own start-up. If you don't have cash, maybe one is looking to co-found something right now.
c. Develop the skills and do what you can yourself. I'm fine handling inbound sales calls, doing web marketing, SEO, participating in on-line communities, etc. I'm spread pretty thin but I won't be building more until I learn more from the market. For things like Outbound sales/telesales which I'm not comfortable doing, I may look for a vendor or find a part-time career salesperson who enjoys that type of work.
So to wrap this up. Don't build anything until you have talked to customers and have a few beta testers lined up. You may not need a co-founder, you might just need a part-timer at the early stages to do some of the things that make you want to puke. Once you get to market, you'll have more options.
I would strongly disagree with Daemin - I think design planning is crucial, and will save you time in the long run.
I spent the past couple of years 'just building the app' and have deeply regretted not doing more design and planning. Designing as you go along will lead you down many twisty paths, constantly making changes and not progressing as fast as you would if you had a plan.
A specification will help you to focus on the application and its features. A plan will help you focus on your milestones and goals.
It's important to have a real plan, and to plan your time. You'll really feel like your getting somewhere as you meet targets along the way, and there is a much better chance of getting a quality product out the door, on time.