Recap: How To Talk To That Hot Developer with Jonathan Bixby

Finding your technical cofounder can be a major challenge, especially in a tight job market. Luckily, GrowLab Executive Director Jonathan Bixby joined us recently to reveal his tips for attracting top talent when talent is scarce.

Let’s face it: Finding your technical cofounder is hard. What’s even more painful is competing with big names like Facebook and Amazon for the best people on the market. So, what do you do?

According to Jonathan, at the end of the day attracting talent (technical or not), really is like dating.  And so, step-by-step (and maybe borrowing a few pointers from “The Game” along the way), he revealed exactly what it takes to go from flirting, to dating, to successfully saying “I do” to your cofounder:


Phase 1: The Pickup 

1. Know that you’re looking-- if you see an opportunity, seize it. Your network, LinkedIn, AngelList, and more are all viable channels for picking up new talent.

2. Remember, it’s mutual--your cofounder should need you as much as you need them. If they’re not searching for you to the same degree, they might not be the right person for the job.

3. Demonstrate your passion- it’s all that you’ve got at this point. You’re looking for somebody to share in your vision and, at the end of the day, climb into the trenches with you, side-by-side.

4. Confidence is key—ultimately, show your prospective cofounder that you bring as much value to the table as they will.

Phase 2: The Dating Dance

5. Date under stress—set unrealistic deadlines, pull the long hours, and throw as much stress into the relationship as you possibly can. People will show their best (and worst) sides in these conditions. 

6. Ask the hard questions—you wouldn’t get married without first talking about kids, so, in the same way never pair up before asking about big-ticket deal-breakers.  Ask yourself- is this person a jerk? Are they a control freak? Are you two on the same page about ambitions, goals, etc. ?

Phase 3: Marriage (and divorce)

7. Always, always have a prenup—make sure to have a proper employment agreement that details non-competition, compensation, roles and responsibilities, and terms of termination. A shareholder’s agreement and a shotgun clause are absolutely essential as well.

8. Determine your board of advisors—your board should never be comprised of just of yourself and your cofounder. Mutually agree upon at least one other advisor. That way, there will always be a tiebreaker in the event of a dispute.

(Bonus) Phase 4: Kids—aka your employees

9. Create a safe workplace— your employees are the lifeblood of your organization, and you and your cofounder are going to be spending more time with them than you may with your family. Cultivate a positive space in which they can work comfortably.

10. “Service is a dying breed”— so, when it comes to your team, foster an attitude of “what can we do for them?”. Observe what your employees need and do whatever it takes to show that you value them.

It can be tough to find that hustler who will match you in both compatibility and grand ultimate vision for your company, but far from impossible.  As Jonathan proved to us, with a little hard work, confidence, and passion, you can successfully find, date, and marry that hot developer across the room.

(And as the founder of BC’s Best Company To Work For a record five years in a row, we’ll take his word for it).

A huge thank you to Jonathan for taking the time to chat with us, if you want to attend awesome speaker events like these, consider applying for a membership with us!


This is a post by Jackie Murchison. Jackie is CommUnicorn for Launch Academy. Follower her on Twitter: @JackieMurchison