How To Find Amazing Technical Cofounders – Through Wharton

By Robert Seo WG’12, Co-founder and Co-CEO of Slidejoy

Do you have a billion dollar idea, but no technical cofounder to build it? I was in the same situation when I met my technical cofounders Jaeho Chung (alumnus), Sanghoon Kwak (WG’14/G’14) and Hovan Yoo through a Wharton connection. Actually, I didn’t even have a billion dollar idea when they asked me to join the team. So how did I get the Kim Kardashian of dev teams—who collectively have created apps that have been downloaded over 500 million times, received 4 science and engineering degrees from Stanford (A bachelors, two master’s, and a PhD) and even won a Bronze Medal in the International Physics Olympiad—to ask me to join their team?

Slidejoy Founders at the time of founding.
Slidejoy Founders at the time of founding.

It comes down to one word: Commitment. In my search for the right opportunity, I had to gut check myself with the following questions every single day for over a year after graduating from Wharton before finally joining the team:

  • Am I willing to forego the recruiting process and ignore the FOMO as those around me receive offers from great companies?
  • Am I willing to watch my classmates make money and progress in their careers as I pursue my entrepreneurial passions?
  • Am I willing to spend my own money to make it happen?
  • Am I patient?
  • Would I bring the necessary skills/network/brains/experience to a team?

And most importantly…

  • Do I believe in myself?

If you want to attract (technical) cofounders, you must answer “F%&* YEA” to all of the above. Any response less enthusiastic than a “F%&* YEA” is not acceptable. Trust me. You are better off collecting a steady paycheck. Nobody worth their technical weight in bitcoin will want to work with you anyways. If you were a talented engineer, you probably wouldn’t want to work with yourself either.

Here’s the deal, a committed teammate inspires others to join their team. If you’re jockeying for position at recruiting events to network, then you’re not committed. If you’re interviewing at superdays in finance, then you’re not committed. If you’re coffee chatting it up to explore opportunities with tech giants, then you’re not committed. Startup teams are like marriages, so why would anybody propose to you if you’re still playing the field? No matter what your mother told you, as a non-technical cofounder, you’re not that special.

If a startup is going to succeed, everybody has to buy in. Here are some examples of the baseline level of commitment we expect from our team at Slidejoy. Jaeho took a leave of absence from Wharton to found Slidejoy. Hovan, whose mother recently passed away, was coding by his mother as she lay sick in the hospital. Sanghoon commuted from New York during his second year at Wharton. Finally, Diana Kattan (W’12) quit her investment banking job in the middle of her second year and gave up her bonus to join our team. Our commitment to each other allows us to be effective even though we are scattered around the world.

Building something from nothing is a very difficult task. Attracting the right team is the first step, but for that to happen, you have to commit. I know it’s a terrifying leap of faith. Believe me, I’ve been there, I get it. But if you keep fighting the good fight and never doubt yourself, you will attract the right people around you. At that point, no matter what happens, the journey you embark on with those dedicated few will be the reward in and of itself.

About Slidejoy: Slidejoy is an intelligent Android app that pays users to view content, deals and ads on their lock screens. Over time, the app learns the preferences of a user and curates a more profitable and relevant user experience. The Company has been featured in the WSJ, CNBC and Fox, has clients in the Fortune 200 and won the Grand Prize at Wharton’s 2014 Business Plan Competition.

Robert Seo headshot smBio: Robert Seo (WG’12) is the Co-CEO of Slidejoy. While studying as an undergraduate, he ran away and joined the US Marine Corps. He served at the vanguard during the initial push for Baghdad with a light armored reconnaissance unit in 2003. After completing his service, he received a BA in Economics and a minor in Mathematics at the University of Maryland. Robert then found himself on the dark side as an investment banking analyst at UBS. After a few years, he went native (or as they say, nativo) and spent a year in Colombia and Ecuador honing his Español and training for an Ironman Triathlon (which he completed in Brazil). He then had a stint with Goldman Sachs Principal Strategies investing in various industries and diverse geographies. During his Wharton summer internship at a fund in Singapore, he was bitten by the startup bug and has been afflicted ever since. You can read more of his hilarious, yet informative (and charming) writing in Slidejoy’s Blog.