At NXNEi, I had a chance to sit down with Endloop and Massive Damage co-founder Ken Seto. Seto has been the creator of productivity apps and is currently tinkering with location-based games like Please Stay Calm.
This conversation was highly centred around entrepreneurship. We started off with a million-dollar question: how does an entrepreneur find a technical co-founder?
HOW TO FIND A TECHNICAL COFOUNDER
“Even if you don’t know programming, you should at least learn a little bit of HTML so you can do mockups,” Seto suggests. “You have to understand what the language of building things mean. For a business co-founder with an idea, you’ve got to be willing to meet a little bit more than halfway when it comes to dealing with a technical co-founder. How do you know somebody is a good technical co-founder unless you can speak the language?
“Get out there to these startup events. Be willing to help participate in a hackathon, and work with people on building stuff. Get your hands dirty. You can’t just sit back and have an awesome idea and expect people to sacrifice their time and energy to work with you just because you have an idea. Everybody has an idea.
“Everybody has lots of ideas.”
I know personally there are a bunch of these hackathons and meetups to be found on sites like Meetup, Eventbrite, and Startup Digest. So it’s time to stop thinking like businesspeople and start being builders. How?
WISDOM ON BUILDING STUFF
“One of the common things people say right now is, ‘If you’re not shipping something you’re embarrassed by, you’re not shipping early enough,’” Seto says. He points to programs like Dreamweaver to help entrepreneurs start off with HTML. “Whatever idea you have, you should start putting it together, get it out there, and start talking about it with people.”
A lot of startups are copycats of each other. As a result, “there are very few ideas where execution isn’t almost 99% of the formula for success,” he explains. Agreed, but how do we execute better? Seto seems to read my mind.
“The key to executing really well is to get as much feedback as possible, get things out there early, get people using it, get customers talking about it, get feedback from them. Noodling around in your head is not going to help anybody, and not yourself,” he warns.
The message is loud and clear: execute now.
BLOOD AND BUSINESS
Ken Seto and his brother Garry have worked on numerous startups together. A lot of people advise on keeping family and business completely separated; I wondered how these two were able to not only remain on good terms, but actually execute so well together.
“It just happens that we have very complimentary skillsets … It’s worked out that any company that I’m at or he’s at, eventually they need somebody else like the other guy,” Seto chuckles. “Our parents had a restaurant, so we were forced into child labour early on and forced into working with each other.”
It’s essential to know whether or not you can work with your family member or friend. “The best thing you can do is to make sure that when you start a company with a friend – or a stranger – is to get your legal documents and your corporation documents in place so that there is a clear, agreed upon, process if things go to shit,” he advises. “It’s when things are vague and not agreed upon when it gets really messy.”
There are a ton of lawyers out there that work with startups and do it for very low cost, he says. Find one and get them to draft those papers up.
Seto’s experience brings a wealth of valuable advice to the table, particularly for entrepreneurs on the business side of the equation. Hopefully, this will help entrepreneurs meet more of and get more connected with those elusive technical co-founders, and we can look forward to more awesome stuff being churned out by these partnerships.
Thanks for the advice and the interview, Ken!