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How Technical Advisors can Help Non-Technical Founders

No one wants to be *that* founder--the non-technical founder poking around developer meetups asking for a unicorn with a Github account.  It's not that there aren't great technical people willing to take a lot of risk to join a small team--it's just that there are *so many* people out there looking for them that it's hard to figure out who to take seriously. 

This is where a good technical advisor can help.  They can help vet what you're building, give you credibility in the hiring process and help assess candidates.

Go find someone technical you could probably never hire.  Maybe they're locked up in golden handcuffs post-acquisition of their startup.  Maybe they're coding at Google and at a point in their life where they'd rather make $300k than rough it at a startup.  

What you can offer is interestingness, a thoughtful challenge, and a little bit of equity.  Working with young companies is cool and it gets the juices flowing.  Plus, from the advisor side, it might be a good way to build up a little portfolio of startup equity without having to put up angel cash.  

Here are the three things I would ask a technical advisor to do for you:

1) Help you build a high level tech spec of what you need to build, so that you know that the product you're working on can reasonably be built given a) the current stage of technology and b) your resources and timeline.  They're going to tell you why an elevator to the moon is hard and why a stepladder might be a better place to start if you only have $50 and a carpenter with a hammer and a saw.  

2) They can be your advocate in technical circles.  It's a much stronger pitch when a software developer reaches out to another software developer and says "Hey, I saw your profile and it might be a very good fit with this company I'm advising" than when you do it and you look like the masses of MBAs looking for code monkees.  Plus, it gives you some street cred if at least one software developer thinks that what you are building should and could be built.  Ask them to add the fact that they're advising you to their various profiles if they can.

3) They can help you vet candidates as they come in--the first line of defense.  

What may wind up happening is that they can help get that first developer in, potentially mentor them a bit and join your company when you get enough revenue or funding to be a little more de-risked.  Or, they just move on to the next company to sherpa a bit. 

This happens all the time on the funding and business side--where someone experienced in business helps two developers figure out a funding or revenue strategy, intros them to customers, etc.  I haven't seen it done much on the technical side, but there's a huge opportunity out there to help promising ideas connect to the technical community.  

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