What’s the difference between pitching for new programmers to join the team vs investors to fund it? Nothing. If you’ve not been pitching both of them with equal detail and vigor, you’re missing out.
It’s weird to me that founders and startups will develop a big elaborate investment pitch deck but then generate a 2 line craigslist post. Tons of time is spent talking about the merits of the project, the struggles, the way it’s going to make money, how it will make a difference, etc. All of this gets presented in great detail to investors. Now, time to find programmers? “Wanted: programmers to make a facebook killer - equity position!” and that’s about it. This is a problem for many reasons - and you’re not going to get good programmers this way.
Putting aside that many great programmers aren’t available to work for equity only, it’s all about making the offer attractive to them, too. When you pitch to investors, you’re asking for a sum of money. When you pitch to a programmer, you’re basically asking for the same thing. You want them to work on your project instead of working for a fee for someone else. They’re spending their time not-earning currently for your project. (Don’t say “well they get equity! you can’t take pre-revenue equity to the bank or pay your rent with it. 10% of 0 revenue is $0). So, first of all, you should treat the pitch with at least as much care as you do with investors. Remember, just like an investor, you’re asking them to bet on you and your idea. They could make a solid wage somewhere else - or - they could make it big with a different company/start-up. You have to convince them that yours is the place to join.
Another reason to pitch the programmer as well as you do an investor is because of their experience and knowledge. You don’t always know what projects the programmer has worked on before. Plus, they have a different view point than you. They might be able to help refine and mold your idea. If you keep it too secret, they’re not going to be able to help you. Worse yet, they’ll join, want to do something different, or mis-interpret your requests because of their own experience. Pitch them the whole idea, and even if you don’t get a programmer, you might get free invaluable advice.
Finally, if you’re trying to entice a career-conscious person, you have to remember that they want success as much as you do. Their name is attached to projects they work on. If you don’t convince them it’s successful, they won’t want to be attached to it. Good programmers use previous successes and projects as ways to learn, grow and leverage into new opportunities. If your idea is a loser (or they don’t know enough about it for it to be a winner), they might just pass up on you. Remember, investors can quietly lose money, but when someone asks the developer what they’ve done for the last year, they don’t want to point to a failure of a project. It’s hard to separate their technical prowess from the business plan failure.
Pitch Developers Better
Ideas are easy, implementation is hard. That’s why you need a programmer. Don’t be afraid to share your idea with them so they can tell you if they’re a good fit and willing to work with you. The more you keep secret or the less effort you put into it, the more of a chance you’ll miss out on great programmers or attract loser ones.