I think this is a really noble thing to do, but..
"You have to be willing to work on an idea that is not your own (we have a few laying around)."
You'll probably find the best hackers, but I'm not sure about the entrepreneur part. It's usually cited that entrepreneurs are successful for chasing after their own goals and making their own game. If they're forced into doing someone else's idea.. they might be a great developer or worker, but it's less likely they'll be any good as an entrepreneur, no?
Anyway, good luck, because no matter what happens, it's still a really noble (and downright decent) thing you're doing.
Peter: Thanks for the kind comments.
I've considered using this experiment to provide early stage funding for people with their own ideas, but I don't have the ecosystem that Paul does to support this. Though I do make early stage investments, for this particular experiment, I decided to fund projects instead of startups.
Not sure what the response will be, but I think I still might be able to save a few brave souls from going to work for big companies (and hopefully have some fun and learn something).
Perhaps if that is your goal it will work well. I know people who go to work merely because they're not brave enough or business savvy enough to break out on their own even if they have the technical skills. If working on one of your projects is enough to open their eyes and get them believing they can actually kick ass away from a major company, then you might have made a big difference.
To say more directly what others are saying, this sounds more like a contract or a summer job than anything involving entrepreneurship. But perhaps the implementation will really define what it is.
In any case, I suppose that it might start people thinking about entrepreneurship. Maybe YCombinator and your thing are a natural evolution from incubators. A sort of mix of entrepreneurship and being an employee.
The defining factor may be the number of people who are willing to launch companies without your aegis versus the number of people who will just go out and get regular jobs.
Great post Dharmesh. I think I fall into that category which does not have a technically savvy co-founder for a tech startup. Most of my acquaintances I met in school are not in the web/online development field but in the software / support side. This is in part due to the fact I think most of the classes for a Computer Science degree do not go into web development aspects. I have a co-founder for another project(offline/online), and by all means having one is 10x better since we push each other to get work done and work on ideas. But a lot of the ideas I have floating around would require someone with more technical skill to assist in.
Perhaps external leadership to bounce the ideas off such as a tech savvy Angel investor or Venture Capitalist would be very beneficial. I am not in need for startup capital (not yet for the initial stage) to require their full monetary support and give up a lot of the company but would be willing to let go of a smaller portion for good leadership. Do you think this is logical to try or would it be better to go for monetary support along with the leadership but lose more of the company? Thanks.
Seriously, this is a good idea. I think you'll probably manage to provide a much more interest summer than a lot of big companies.
Though I agree with the thoughts above-- working on someone elses ideas isn't always fun (though it can be if the ideas are interesting enough).
I'd also throw out that you aren't really speaking to one of the other desires of young entrepreneurs. Some of them might have dollar signs in their eyes, some might want the notoriety of building something big/cool, and some might have some romantic notions of the freedom of self-employment (HA!).
You could probably offer some incentives that speak to these needs (stock options, bonus schedule, etc).
Of course, you probably want to keep it simple. :-)
Great idea, loved the way you wrote it!
It sounds like you're just hiring hackers to implement your startup without offering any equity... If so, it's just a summer job -- no reason to go work for you over someone else. The dangling carrot of maybe-possibly funding a startup on who-knows-what terms just isn't that great. The salary is only okay, and we don't get the same community, benefits, experience, resume, and contacts as we would at a Google or similar company. Or are you offering something more concrete?
Peter (and others):
Though the article was intentionally vague, I will clarify a bit and say that I do not expect to attract anyone worth attracting by simply offering a little bit of cash and no equity.
The rationale for the vagueness is that the actual terms of the deal are likely going to vary (like they would if I were simply recruiting employees) based on the individuals, the idea being pursued and the long term goals of the relationship.
I'm open to influence (even on the idea), but want to start the conversation and see what happens. It's just hard to put deal terms out there without knowing what I'm getting in to. I wouldn't even do that for a classic hire, let alone what I believe is an interesting entrepreneurial experiment.
would have to say that's the most as*****sh thing i've read in a long time. good work.
While as you say, your post was intentionally vague, I think the message that seems to reverbrate is that it is a summer dev job. I think your experiment would be more enticing if you'd
1. Sign an NDA and ownership agreements
2. Develop the business plan/model for the tech
3. Build the alpha or beta version
4. Pitch to close circuit VC network
5. Decide how to proceed
It seems to me that your intention is to foster entrepreneurship. Once the summer is over, you can re-evaluate what to do after summer. And all 4 can be applied to your #4 (You have to be willing to work on an idea that is not your own) as you'd want the understudy to work confidentially as well. I think you'll kill many birds in one stone.
I dont like you telling the developer what tech to use.
my choice is ror.
I think dictating the project is a terrible idea. Use the creative talent of your applicants and maybe their ideas are better than the ones you have in the hopper. Also, letting tech guys develop something they're passionate about is more likely to result in greater motivation and better work product. I understand you're paying a premium to Y Incubator to be able to offer a platter of your best start-up ideas, but I would say just meet the compensation for Y Incubator and replicate the model...
I am missing a co-founder. Someone interested?
The company is up and running, and the idea works. 1000 new customers each year. It pays the salaries, but no success, still in the first gear. :-)
I have a lot of other ideas related to spreadsheet.
Contract developers typically make significantly more money than FTEs, not less. Unlike an FTE, a contractor receives no benefits, no job security, no employer FICA contribution, and no equity.
You propose to pay a fraction of the prevailing FTE rate for the equivalent of a lead developer/architect.
I suggest that there is perhaps a typo in this post. Perhaps you missed a zero in your number?