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How do I get people to want to collaborate on a project idea I have/actually contribute? I am a bit sensitive about my idea for a couple reasons:

  1. I don't want people to take my idea.
  2. I have gotten a couple people who wanted to help but then work/family/school stops them from having time and makes me less enthusiastic in the process.

For now it's actually ok because it has forced me to become familiar with PHP and servers and I have just been working on it on my own because I want to learn and its fun, but at some point I will need others to help in order to make it robust and ready to distribute.

How do I get collaborators when I will need them? I feel like I should start figuring that out now.

I have just been learning how to write software using mainly Stack Overflow, idiot guides and YouTube. Great to learn, but development is slow.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The best way to get some help, even if it is part time to start a business venture with some people you know and trust and allow them to be vested in it.

Money is a motivator, however hiring programmers is not cheap. I would advice against the many freelance programmer sites out on the web right now because the quality of work you receive is abysmal and many of those programmers are in other countries where even if they were to steal your idea, they are not in the same legal jurisdiction as you so suing them could be rather complicated.

If you feel the idea can make money then try to sell your peers on this and offer them a stake in a business venture. In this way, you don't have to pay them to get started, and even if you don't particularly trust them, they generally wouldn't be inclined to steal your idea and go off on their own with it anyway.

The important thing is that just because it is your idea, and it is a good one doesn't entitle you to majority ownership. Ideas are cheap, implementation is where the money is made.

Fully fund the venture, manage the business side of things, start an LLC and be involved with the development and you will earn at least 50% ownership stake even if the developer does almost all the implementation.

If you still have trouble finding interest then you need to start connecting with better people. Consolidate your professional contacts on LinkedIn for a good way to keep in touch with old colleagues, and start going to developer conferences, most major cities have a technology council and most of those hold at least one developer conference every year. Sit through a bunch of a boring vendor presentations and then meet and mingle afterwards. That is the whole reason anybody goes to those things anyway... that and free t-shirts :)

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I like your advice. Yes, ideas are cheap so that's why I'm trying to learn the development part so I actually have some value. I almost have a decent working prototype and I've been having fun messing with it, but I imagine problems if lots of people were using it. For me, the money is secondary. If it actually made any money I would probably just use it to reinvest in the idea/pay for some decent developers. I just want to make something and have control over how it develops (if it were to develop) and get a bit of credit. –  Stagleton Dec 21 '11 at 12:45
    
How do you use linkedin to connect with people you don't know? –  Stagleton Dec 21 '11 at 13:03

If you want to control your idea, then perhaps you need to think about the project from the architect's/project-manager's perspective. Put together a draft design, then start writing story/feature descriptions. Break the problem down into many simple manageable pieces, then ask for people to contribute to building a few elements without them needing to understand the overall design until you are in deep enough to maintain the creative control you desire. The pitfall of course is that people like to be involved in the projects they participate in, and you lose the opportunity to get valuable advice from your colleagues.

If your goal is to make money out of this idea, you need to think about whether the idea in and of itself will satisfy that requirement, or if there is an ancillary source of revenue related to the idea you wish to pursue. Each option allows you to provide a different incentive or motivation to anyone interested in joining your project. And regardless, you'll still need to plan out how you want to do things when you bring others on board.

If money isn't the object, then it won't matter who you get to help, because trust would be the greater issue. Of course if you know someone you absolutely trust who will be willing to join you in your venture, then perhaps a business partnership would be a better way to approach this.

At some point, if you wish to have others involved in your project, you are going to need to actually let them in on your idea. As to when in the process that is, that really comes down to your own comfort level in that regard, and as such, the strategy you implement to allow you to develop your idea will be influenced by the level of trust you are willing to give to your colleagues.

If you decide that an open-source, or a similar closed-source/open-development model will work for you, then you'll want to build a community around your idea, and allow the community enthusiasm for the project to drive things forward. Defining a project on a website such as GitHub, or SourceForge would allow you to state clearly that you are the source of the idea and the project leader, while still allowing you to invite others to be contributors to your project. In all cases however, unless you have a lot of money to burn, I'd avoid using contractors as they won't have any emotional investment in your project, and will likely provide you with a result that will leave you feeling as if you should have simply done it yourself.

Good luck with your venture! :-)

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