How I Found My First Engineer

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Ever since I started my rejection blog a few years ago, I’ve been wanting to turn the idea into a piece of technology to benefit more people, things like a rejection app, or a fearless website, or a goal achieving tool. Yes it would be cool to have 10 million Youtube viewers, but it would be even more awesome to have 1 billion app users.

awesome things can become distractions

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However, every time I wanted to take the next step, things got in the way. It was the book, then speaking engagements, then TED talk, etc. While these were amazing opportunities, they distracted me from my tech goal. Finally, I put my foot down this summer and declared it’s now or never.

Where to look?

 

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I have no tech guy on my team. I need to find my tech cofounder or an engineer to help me write software. How do I find him/her? How do I convince him to put down whatever he’s doing and join my cause? I heard a lot of advices, but couldn’t find the one answer. So I worked with my team to come up with a plan to try everything. Boy my team is awesome!

Defining the criteria

First, I decided on very tough criteria:

He needs to be a good programmer with a proven track record of building apps.

He needs to be entrepreneurial and believe in my mission.

He needs to be either local or relocate to the Bay Area until we finish prototyping. I’m not a fan of remote.

Lastly, he needs to do it fulltime for at least 3 months.

One on one - word of mouth

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Then, I started asking everyone I know for referrals. I got quite a few conversations. But as it turned out, word of mouth is great, but it’s not efficient. For my crazy criteria, I might be able to find 1 qualified person out of 20 chats. I might have grandkids before a cofounder.

One to many - social media

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So, I started marketing, starting with social media. I shouted out “I AM LOOKING FOR A TECH COFOUNDER” on every social media platform out there. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. As it turned out, LinkedIn was the most effective tool. In two days, over 20K people viewed my post. And more than 20 people expressed interest.

One to many - email list

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Then, it’s time to leverage my email list. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a decent email subscriber list. I sent out an email to them asking if they knew anyone. It helps that these are my readers and followers, so they already know my mission. 20 more qualified people wanted an interview.

One to many - meetups

Lastly, I started doing what I am best at – speaking. I gave my rejection speech at a few meetups. While imploring them to overcome their own rejection fear, I also plugged for my tech venture and ask if anyone would be interested in joining.

Interviews

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As the results of these 1-to-many broadcasts, I found many qualified candidates. Hours of phone conversations ensued. They were exhausting, but also interesting. There was one guy who learned how to code while in prison. Another guy won a hackathon with an app that tells people where bar-fights happen. In the end, I zeroed in on one guy.

Sashank

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My choice, Sashank, is a college student who loves coding, music and Game of Thrones, and is cool as cucumber spa water. A week later, he flew across country and joined my summer team. In two days, he already built the preliminary login and user interface, taught me about Nepalese politics, and showed potential to be karaoke champion. Not bad!

Conclusion

Finding the right employee/partner is both hard and crucial for startups. You need to try everything and not be afraid of rejection. Instead of being discreet and secretive, I found that being candid and openly asking for help is the most effective and fun. So I basically screamed for help on top of buildings. Rejection therapy at its finest.