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Orphan start-up - suggestions?
6 Posts
Orphan start-up - suggestions?


Keep in mind that architects and developers are worth their weight in gold. If you pay them little bits of gold and they accept, chances are they're not that capable and experienced to solve your big problems. Now, I'm not suggesting that throwing money at a problem always solves it, but just don't forget that if the deal feels too good to be true, it likely is!

Having been in the exact situation you are in (an entrepreneur with a half baked product that has potential, but no means to finish or materialize it) I can say with confidence that if you put your mind to it you can solve this problem. What Laurence suggested is, in my opinion, some of the best advice. Look for a partner that you're willing to share the business with who has the technical know-how to not just drive subordinates, but can actually perform the work himself. Eventually, you won't want him "coding" or "architecting" and you'll want him to be able to just focus on high-level business driven technical responsibilities, but until then, he should be passionate about finishing your project.

And like Laurence said, hopefully it's not a cave full of bad code right now, because if so, you will need to figure out how much it will cost in time to finish the project. A partner might not like jumping in only to discover that he needs to spend 9 months rearchitecting 90% of the code base because of the rats nest that is there. 9 months of no pay is a long time, even for someone living off of previous investments.

You should look for entrepreneurial groups in your area, or even on the Internet. Continue to reach out to the community, like you've done with this post, because I'm certain someone will see your product and jump aboard at some point.

Good luck, and I'd be really interested to hear back from you about how you solved your problem (if you remember that I wrote you once you do of course!)...


Kevin Elliott "WeLikeFood Beta":http://www.welikefood.com Great restaurants. Great reviews.


In response to your last question, I cannot answer for the whole community of Rails programmers but I doubt many would be jumping at that opportunity. You will be stuck in a bit of a quandary here. I think Laurence has some very valid points and things you need to consider in your current state. You could always take the risk of a less experienced programmer who is just starting in Rails and looking to create portfolio, but you're likely to have more problems surface because of that.

Good luck, I hope you can find a solution in all of this!


Your site looks fairly polished, so your GM's departure so close to launching raises a red flag in my mind. I hope the GM didn't leave because the code is an amateurish, horrible mess.

The worst thing you could do is hire a contract-programmer or consulting firm to try and finish the job. Funding issues aside, you absolutely need a top-notch programmer as a Vested Business Partner -- someone who has an appreciation for working in a Startup environment. This is especially true since you aren't a programmer yourself, and you need someone who knows their stuff and will keep the junior programmers honest.

Yes, there are independent, capable programmers who may be interested in an equity stake in your company. Finding them is going to be tough, though, as they are probably engaged in other ventures. I (and others) may consider an equity stake if we're able to inspect the code and design documents under an NDA to determine whether the existing assets are worth finishing up.

My last bit of advice is to hire a good lawyer to ensure your new partner or developer doesn't cut and run with your Intellectual Property. At the worst case, if you can't find a Partner, you could sell that IP and recoup some of your investment. Who knows, you might find a programmer who's interested in doing the business, but not willing to do an international business partnership.


Thanks for your post. Part of the problem is that I'm not a programmer myself, and that I'm out of money to hire a programmer. Ideal situation would be to find a programmer interested in equity, since that's my best bargaining chip. But do you think that any programmer would be interested in equity only?




Just want to say that at first glance, the design/feel of the sight is great. Looks like you've really honed in with the web 2.0 juicyness!

If you're looking to hire someone, why not post something on the job/gig board, there are always interested parties looking for more work. It might also be helpful if you were to outline what your time frame to launch is meant to be, and how much work (hours/week) you're needing.

I imagine that you shouldn't have too much trouble finding an eager worker willing to jump into the project along with you. Keep us posted on your interesting work, looks like it really might be something fun!

Bon Chance!


I've put a lot of time and money being Jujube, a new vision of accounting for small businesses (based on my own frustration with existing tools). The prototype is at, all done in Rails.

Unfortunately, I've just lost my general manager, and I'm running out of time/money. Any thoughts about finding partners at this early stage? Are programmers only interested in working for a fee or are equity deals possible? I'm in Newfoundland, which makes it harder to connect to the community - hoping to find help here.

Thanks for your suggestions!


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