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Say that you want to start a new project (I'm talking about a serious project — e.g if you had an idea that seems good and profitable — not about something you start just to learn a new technology or just for your enjoyment) but you don't feel like you can do it alone since, for example, you lack the experience or the technical skills to go through all the phases needed to go from the idea to the final product.

Say also that you don't simply want to hire someone. You want someone who can be as passionate as you in the job, that is “proficient” in and enthusiast of the same technologies as you are and that possibly has a background similar to yours (e.g. you both are students, you both come from a prestigious univerity or just you're both Star Trek nerds).

So, basically you don't want a person to tell what to do (e.g. “implement this and that, slave!”) but someone who can be inspiring and bring something new and important to your project. Someone to go with you from the earliest stage — from clearly shaping the project's philosophy to drawing mockups etc. Someone who agrees to share the outcome of the project, that strongly believes in the idea behind it and is completely 50-50 with you.

Now the question is: how to improve your chances of finding this person (or persons)? Where would you look at first?

For example, if you had a lot of funds and were looking for someone to hire, you'd maybe post an ad in SO careers or jobs.73signals; if you already had a team and were looking for funding, you'd start a project on kickstarter or indiegogo, or you'd go to some startup event.

But if you had to find a good partner (and programmer, of course) for you're project, where would you start looking? Which strategies would you use?

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What's the problem with SE careers? You can look for people that already have experience on the things that you're looking for, and are willing to work as you wish (telecommute, internship, part-time, etc.) –  faif Mar 27 '11 at 10:22
    
I don't need an employee to work as I wish, I need a partner (call it a cofounder if you think it better conveys the meaning)! :-) –  Alberto Santini Mar 27 '11 at 10:46
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Sure. I think that SE careers could still be helpful. If you find candidates with the required experience, you can discuss about cooperating instead of employing :) –  faif Mar 27 '11 at 11:02
    
Sales and marketing, that's a partner that would be hard to find for a programmer. –  JeffO Nov 5 '12 at 1:57
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6 Answers

A good partner is very hard to find.

After lots of searching on the Internet, I made friends with a guy at my University with great talents and I've teamed up with him.

My advice: find a partner by networking in the real world and meeting real people. If you don't know any programmers and can't go places to meet real programmers, teach a friend how to program and then partner up with him or her.

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+1 for find partner in the real world -1 for teach a friend how to program this defeats the purpose as the "friend" wouldn't be as passionate or motivated total=0. –  Aditya P Mar 27 '11 at 5:23
    
@AdityaGameProgrammer, obviously it depends on the friend... –  Ami Mar 27 '11 at 5:26
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I agree that "teaching friends how to program" is out of the scope of the question: if you want to team up 'cause you feel you don't have enough experience, adding a newbie in isn't that useful (also remember that the hypothetical "you" is looking for a good programmer!). Anyway the "look locally" and - in particular - at universities makes a lot of sense. Thanks. –  Alberto Santini Mar 27 '11 at 10:52
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Past experience.

What colleagues have you worked with before that left a strong, positive impression on you for their technical proficiency, their work ethic, and their personality compatibility? Can this person complement your skills, talents, and resources?

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Well, this is of course a good advice, assuming that you have a mid to long work experience behind you, that might not always be the case. –  Alberto Santini Mar 27 '11 at 10:49
    
Even if you've had one job, the OP only needs one partner. –  JeffO Nov 5 '12 at 2:08
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Read some developer blogs and find some that seem to be blogging about the areas and/or technologies that you are thinking of using.
You will probably get a lot of useful information about the personality of the writer just by reading a few post. If you like what you read, send them an e-mail and see where it goes.

On the other hand you could start a blog yourself and let people find you. It doesn't need to be specific to the idea you want to implement. You could just blog about the technologies you want to use or the general area around your idea for example.
Don't forget to let your personality show in your writing.

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Really good hints, both for the "read" and for the "write" part. Thanks! –  Alberto Santini Mar 27 '11 at 10:56
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Past experience is the best prediction of the future (but it will still be a prediction)

I would like to add something that might be useful when you actually meet someone who might fit the job:

I have been asked many times by others that have great ideas to work with them, to implement their dreams and to get rich and famous (OK, that last part is an exaggeration but it expresses the overall atmosphere of optimism). Each and every time I quickly found out that all there was, was an idea, a wish and lots of hope. What was missing was a worked out plan, a strategy, a start, a sanity check.

Everyone has great ideas and wishes, to win someone over to help you make your plan come true, you have to convince him of the feasibility; just an idea or a wish is too little to win me over, I have lots of them too.

So when you talk to a possible partner make sure you have things to show that will convince him that it is worth his time and effort.

EDIT:

If it is a game you want to develop go to a game developer community site and become a leech for a while. After seeing others ask for the same help you are looking for see the response they get and learn. See this site to get an idea of what I mean.

If it is not a game replace 'game' in above text with your 'thing'

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I think you're right. If you have a strong philosophy behind your project, if you know exactly what you want in it and - most of all - what you want to left out from it, if you have a good understanding of how it could impact its users' lives and if you constantly remember why you're doing it (and not just what you're doing or how to do it), then it's much easier to involve people and make them as passionate as you are about the idea! But there's always the open question: where to find them? :-) –  Alberto Santini Mar 27 '11 at 10:59
    
I added some search tips –  Erno Mar 27 '11 at 18:48
    
"Ideas are like assholes: everyone has 'em and they all stink." The greatest idea, with zero plans or effort, is worth nothing. –  Steve Evers Nov 5 '12 at 5:53
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In terms of finding a single partner for a project you both would be starting on together. I would say start looking in your local area. Post ads on craiglist or look for local groups that meet up. I believe SO is even promoting SO groups to get together Stack Overflow Meetup

By all means if you expand your search to include someone you can work with remotely there are lots of good people out there, but I think that is a much harder task. The reason I would suggest finding someone locally is that I believe that one of the biggest factors for being successful together is being able to not only tolerate each other but like each other and share each others vision. Go have a beer together, see if this is someone you could work with and someone that will be compatible with you. Someone that has good ideas, that you could take constructive criticism from(and vice versa), and build a respect for each other rather than just being partners for a mutual goal.

Unless you are living in the middle of the woods there are probably many programmers in your area who have the same desires/aspirations that you do. It's kind of in a good programmers DNA. Talk about what you like to do, what fascinates you about programming, ideas, sports, whatever. When you have a mutual respect with someone else, you get the element that you don't want to let each other down, and you're excited about what you're doing. Good luck.

EDIT: I missed something in my initial answer. I don't know if there is a tell-tale sign for this or not, but also I think you want to watch out for who you do not want to work with. Find someone who is interested in ideas and development, not just money. If you get someone who only talks about how much money the project is going to make, etc... without really getting excited about the idea of what you're doing. From my experience those are the people that have been less reliable, and tend to flake out. If they are more excited about the challenge and the development they are more likely to stick around and share your interests/goals.

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Totally right about sharing something more than work and like each other. Also, I strongly agree on what to NOT look for. It's just that your "unless you're living in the middle of the woods" may sometimes be a quite accurate description - e.g. you live in a rural area, quite far from mid or big cities and university campuses. In this case I think you either renounce or you look for someone on the internet! :-) –  Alberto Santini Mar 27 '11 at 10:55
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  • Join/start a local engtreprenuer group/meetup with a tech emphasis. The Internet may provide a wider-range of candidates, but you'd be better off if you could find someone in your area.
  • Post something at a university and offer an alternative to the typical internship.
  • A high school computer club may be an option, but contact the teacher leading the group and parents. Be upfront and open about everything. (You don't want to come across as a predator.). Check your local work laws for legal age.

Keep building while you're waiting. Starting with some solid code would be a strong selling point to show you're: serious, know what you're doing and willing to put in the time.

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