photo credit: startuphall.org

In science, Osmosis is defined as

a process by which molecules of a solvent tend to pass through a semipermeable membrane from a less concentrated solution into a more concentrated one.

A more general definition is:

Osmosis is the process of gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas, knowledge, etc.

This post is not about Osmosis, rather I will be using it as an allegory to illustrate why engineer tech founders easily attract the best engineering and tech talents than non-engineer tech founders.

As seen in the animated GIF above, water will move from the solution with less sugar concentration to the solution with more sugar concentration. While I was in high school, we use to define Osmosis basically as the phenomenon where the “stronger solution draws the weaker solution“.

By now you should be wondering where am going with this, so I will cut to the chase.

An engineer founder usually has a high concentration of tech knowledge and because of Osmosis will attract more tech talent towards them.

When a tech company starts they usually do not have enough money to attract and employ the best tech talents, however, some startups still succeed in hiring and retaining the best talents. If you look closely, such startups usually have a top engineer as founder and most engineers will want to join not only for money but for the knowledge and experience they will gain next to such founders. Like Osmosis, the more they attract top talent the more their concentration of top talent increases and the gravity of Osmosis goes north.

I will admit there are non-engineer founders, like Evan of Snapchat or Steve Jobs of you know the “fruit company” making phones… These are rare breeds and they also have some strong ability that will pull engineers towards them… Call it juju.

Recently, I have noticed that most investors interested in tech in Africa are insisting on having engineer founders or engineer co-founders in companies they want to invest into and I guess the scientific reason is Osmosis.

I also think strongly that engineer founders can work with engineers and then easily work with marketing and sales people, while none engineer founders will have a hard time working with engineers. Don’t ask me, just go and ask non engineer founders trying to work with freelance developers or even in-house developers or ask developers how they feel when they work with clients or founders who don’t understand engineering and how frustrating it gets.

In conclusion, if you want to succeed in tech you should either become an engineer or get a top level decision making engineer co-founder who understands your vision and will own the product in the sense of direction, market innovation and adaptation.

Remember science doesn’t lie hence Osmosis won’t lie either 😉

PS: If you also have loads of cash in your startup, you can also attract top talent because of the fat paychecks and that also is osmosis where the stronger money draws people away from the weaker money 😉