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Ask HN: How can I convince my coworkers to start a company?

I work at a FAANG and have a lot of side projects that I'd like to try turning into businesses, but I'm having a hard time finding cofounders. All of my close friends work at <large company> however and they all say that the security of the job is why they won't leave even though the product sounds fun and they'd want to work on it. Obviously, this isn't something I can offer. I want to offer something better, however I'm not sure how I can pitch a convincing argument.

So, for those of you who managed to convince a friend or were otherwise convinced, what tipped the scale away from job security?

7 pointskevmo314 posted a month ago15 Comments
15 Comments:
davismwfl said a month ago:

You have to find like minded people, and people who want the security of a large corporation are the exact opposite of the risk taking adventure entrepreneurs take. Entrepreneurs as a group consider working for a large corporation to be a major risk, really working for anyone is a risk. Personally I think having a "job" is a major risk but sometimes it is fun to do too, just like building a business.

The people you are talking to are comfortable and not the right crowd, I am sure some work at the company that would love that opportunity.

Just a word of caution, be careful actively recruiting while on the job, it is a fast way to either A get fired, or B get fired and sued for your side project depending on the company. A lot of FAANG and startups that emulate them have clauses about side projects and so you have to be really careful here if you have one of those. I am all for you doing whatever you want, but just make sure you know the details on how it could affect you.

planetzero said a month ago:

Those friends/coworkers won't make it in the long-run, even if you can convince them in the beginning.

You need someone that is hungry to start a business, sick and tired of working for someone else, and will sacrifice their free time to make it happen.

I've tried at least half a dozen times in the past to start a company with friends/coworkers..and most failed miserably for this reason.

Some people just aren't meant to start or run a company and want the stability and security of being an employee.

kevmo314 said a month ago:

> You need someone that is hungry to start a business, sick and tired of working for someone else, and will sacrifice their free time to make it happen.

Do you have any ideas where I can meet and get to know such people?

Undergrad me thought that FAANG was the place to find such people because in undergrad we were too inexperienced, but now FAANG me thinks that undergrad was the place, and that maybe grad school will be similar? But I'm worried that I again won't have much luck at grad school.

Is it really that rare of a trait or am I just looking in the wrong places?

sevilo said a month ago:

have you thought of starting solo to begin? Why do you want partners so early on? I'm luck enough to have met a few at work that I might consider working with on businesses in the future if opportunities come, but those people are honestly quite rare. There are plenty of smart engineers I've met on the jobs that have 0 desire to run a business and enjoy stability, why go the route of resistance?

I have however started a non-tech related business on the side, don't know where this would take me but can say the least because I've started this business, I managed to meet some ambitious and risk-taking individuals, when you meet them you will know their mindset is very different from many of the folks you work with in the office, these people typically dare to lose and dare to dream.

kevmo314 said a month ago:

I've tried starting things solo before and I think my skillset is not diverse enough. I have a very engineering-heavy skillset and I've been met with failure a few times before doing things solo.

It's a fair point though and I don't see this as stopping me, but it's a sore spot and I've been trying to find a partner so I can try to take a different approach with someone who has a different point of view than me.

raveenb said a month ago:

attend startup weekends, hackathons and other places where such folks congregate. You may not get the right partner right away, but you will get to know the people who are in a similar boat as you. From there you have to do a trial and error to zero in the partners that suite you.

codegladiator said a month ago:

Don't do it. Find someone else, who is at least as much or more enthusiastic about starting a company to work on a product.

Building a product is hard, building a company is harder. There will be lots of ups and downs, so what you don't want is to end up "try to convince to continue working on it" them again every 4-6 months.

Find someone who will convince you.

gwbas1c said a month ago:

Running a business isn't just about building something that's interesting to you.

There's plenty of resources on Hacker News about how to validate your business. Assuming your side project is just software you work on nights and weekends, you'll find that "writing code" is just a fraction of what it takes to start a business.

See if you can find a side project that doesn't need to be a full-time business, and figure out how to focus it to be fun. At some point you'll see an opportunity to turn it into something that pays your bills; but don't rush.

trez said a month ago:

Do you really need cofounders ? Can you start already and find someone later on ? I am a single founder and I spent a lots of time, money and energy because I had to find a cofounder because It s what successful startups do. I might not be successful yet :) but I have a profitable startup and I am still a single founder

hindsightbias said a month ago:

Build from scratch. First one will be hard, but it will get easier.

Recruit college kids, they can take a lot more risks and less pay. Happy with bunkbeds and ramen. Spend the money on blingy hardware and entertainment. Need more workers, they’ll recruit their friends for you.

Worst case, they have to go back to school with a lot of experience.

muzani said a month ago:

People do startups for similar reasons to mountain climbing. They enjoy the thrill of being in control of a chaotic situation.

They like being the underdog. They are at their best when the odds are against them. They love taking responsibility.

A lot of people like that would suffer in a large, stable company.

93po said a month ago:

I agree with others here - if you're working at a FAANG you have it pretty good. They likely value free time more than the ability to try to build a side project.

I'm looking for a project myself to work on - email in my profile if you want to reach out.

ftreml said a month ago:

as i spend all of my energy to build a great product i dont have any energy left to convince co-founders or co-workers every few weeks. i wouldnt ever found a business or project with someone not as committed to it as myself.

so: if you have to convince someone of co-founding, he/she is probably not a good match

maps7 said a month ago:

Are you in the USA or Europe?

kevmo314 said a month ago:

USA