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How to go about finding an entrepreneurial partner?

  1. Oct 13, 2015 #1
    So I'll be up for getting my PE license in structural engineering somewhat soon (and I love what I do!), but there's been a growing fire underneath me. I've always had a mind that makes connections between businesses, services, aspects of life, etc. and in the last 1+ year, I've noticed a huge uptick in people striking it big by solving seemingly unknown problems with digital technology. This has spurred me to start taking a more concerted look at problems related to my career/personal life and as a result, I have begun to conceive the framework for a few websites/applications. I basically feel like this is a bandwagon that I could jump on and succeed at (maybe not the first time, but I never stop thinking of new stuff to try).

    That being said, I have basically no modern technology development experience. I did some programming in college and understand programming logic and can do a fair amount with array based languages, but almost 4 years out of school, away from programming and in a construction based environment, I've lost most of the ability to do it myself.

    I need to find a business partner either my age or in a similar fledgling state, except with the skills needed to help develop the website/app at a basic level, with the understanding that it will be both of our sweat equity that goes into it. I am more than willing to learn how to do specific types of programming to help my potential partner out, but I need someone who can get that ball rolling. I also have no problem pounding the pavement and drumming up interest in my products/services/whatever you want to call it and allowing the programming partner to work unabated if that's their preference.

    Is there anyone in an experienced technical development role (software/mobile technology/web development, etc.) that could recommend resources for finding a technical partner to work with me on developing some ideas with the intention of eventually growing into a business?

    I'm looking for any type of feedback on this, thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 13, 2015 #2


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    Maybe what you need to do is step back and read your own post as though it belonged to somebody else. You are 4 years out of uni in a not-particularly-related subject, and you want to strike out and start a business with an app or a web site or something. And you want somebody to help you.

    Try it this way. Suppose I came to you and said I was an electrical engineer, but I was seeing all these people getting rich in the petrochemical industry. Could you help me set up a gas station or an oil refinery or something? Or suppose I said I was a civ engineer, but I was seeing all these people getting rich on medical devices. Could you help me set up a hospital or a pharma company or something?

    It isn't rare for engineers to start companies. But they usually do it in something fairly closely related to their own specialty. Lots of engineers start consulting firms of one sort or another. And many of them do really quite well. But many of them lose their shirts and have to go back to the bottom of the seniority ladder in Unspecific-Big-Company. Starting in an area that you are not very familiar with is a huge disadvantage.

    If you love your work, you should consider what you can do in your own area. There are many areas that could quite productively be improved in structural engineering. Now that you are getting your PE, you should see what you can do about advancing in that area. You should see how much responsibility you can handle in the company you are currently working for. And keep your eyes and ears open for the possibility of striking out on your own in some way.

    Keep in mind the "graceful exit" when you do. You don't want to create hard feelings, maybe even enemies, by walking out of your current position in a way that annoys your current employer. Especially if you are setting up a consultancy firm that needs clients. Many industries have tight networks of people who know pretty much everybody. If you harsh an employer, it may be tough to get people to give you contracts.

    Alternatively, if you really want to switch to something in IT, maybe what you need is to switch to a job in that area. Or take a few extra classes in something IT related that interests you. Maybe you can pick up the skills required before you get to the point of "get a contract or starve."

    Additionally alternatively, maybe you can write a prototype app that solves some useful and interesting problem in structural engineering. Even if it is already solved, maybe you can find some new or interesting or easier way to do it. Or possibly even just make an existing app easier to use. For example, in my industry there are a lot of apps that have models of reactor components. Not many of them have GUI inputs to define those components. Maybe you could do something like get an existing CAD/CAM program, and write a "join" between it and some structural analysis program. That might create a GUI equipped version that was much easier to use.
  4. Oct 13, 2015 #3
    Thank you for the candid feedback. I actually have several ideas within my own profession, but I wouldn't consider those "low hanging fruit."

    Let me be a little more clear: I like what I do but I don't think I would ever want to run my own practice, so to speak. I would prefer to be the member of a group of engineers and technology developers who have a hand in many things. If one of those arms is integrating structural engineering software or tools into a mobile platform, then that's great and I'll be right there, but I would prefer to be involved in more diverse holdings.

    Also, I am NOT looking for someone to be a slave for me while I sit in an office pontificating about the newest great idea I have. In fact I wouldn't mind taking a subordinate position to someone with more experience, with the eventual goal of building something bigger.

    Finally, the end goal is to also create a scenario where I can invest in ideas I think have potential, too. Or, put differently, I can get to a point where I have the resources to use my own hands to develop something in my mind. In the end, though, I understand that I can't expect someone to waste their time on something that they don't perceive as beneficial to themselves. Rather, I am looking for advice to find someone of similar mindset (with a complimentary set of skills).
  5. Oct 13, 2015 #4


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    Consider the opposite direction: If the goal is a web application, why should a web designer look for someone with experience in structural engineering? They would probably look for another web designer or someone experienced in running a business, marketing and so on.
  6. Oct 13, 2015 #5
    They wouldn't. I'm not looking to change my career so to speak. Ideally, the person I would work with has their own full time career working on something completely unrelated to my endeavors, but we have a cross section to work on something independent. Does that clear up my intentions? I'm looking for someone who has a similar drive to create something on their own, regardless of whether it parallels their current employment situation.
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