No Technical Background – is it a roadblock for startup founder?

If you don’t have technical skills, you can’t build a tech startup.

From time to time we all hear these words of discouragement. But in fact, if you’re inspired with an idea, have the willingness to implement it, it does not matter whether you have technical skills or not: the involvement and passion is the key.

And tons of successful founders and startup CEOs have proven otherwise to the statement above. Few examples – Sean Rad Founder and Chairman of Tinder. He launched Tinder in 2012, it was an overnight success. Two months after its launch, it reached over a million matches.

And in 2018, Tinder had over 3.7 million paid subscribers, which is 81% higher than in 2017. Now the company valued at around $3 billion and is one of the most downloaded apps in the App Store.

The other great one – Evan Sharp Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Pinterest.

While in Columbia University’s architecture program through the mutual friend Evan met Ben Silbermann (future CEO). Together they launched Pinterest in 2010. As of 17th October 2018, Pinterest has over 250 million monthly active users with a total number of over 175 billion Pinterest Pins.

So always remember that not being able to code should not stop you from building a tech company, as coding is just one of many tasks critical to the operation of your organization.

But how to execute it right?

Here are some pro tips.

Step 1

Do everything that you can without coding.

The planning and prelaunch stage is as important as the development process itself. And if you pay attention to it properly, it will positively impact and simplify the next steps too.

Make your research to define the market and target audience, to work on the user flow in the future.  Look through the competitor’s solutions, find inspirations.

Simply said, there is a lot to do to validate the idea even before starting the development.

Aim to understand if the clients really need your solution. Don’t be shy to brainstorm with other business people, your possible clients, and your soulmates to collect more ideas. If you are able to raise interest in people, they become a source of inspiration and ideas. This is also a good chance to find investors, supporters, co-founders, and future clients.

The outline of this step is the ready research and documentation to represent the idea and move more efficiently with the next steps.

Step 2

Learn more about the technologies behind the product and boost up the project management skills.

It’s very important to have a basic idea about the technology of your products, then it would be much easier to communicate and write functional requirements for your company.

Before looking for a partner or developers to implement the idea, learn at least some basics about the technology behind it. To think and speak the same terms, understand the time and effort that needs to be put in. Make simple research about modern technologies.

At the other end for a non-tech founder, it is essential to develop a variety of other skills in order to compensate for a lack of technical skills. It can be based on the basic principles of project management. Learn more about the steps of the development and the documentation flow to be more efficient. 

Step 3

Find your partner

At some point in the process, you are going to need to find someone with the technical skills to either build out an MVP or a full version of the product, or manage product development.

You might consider finding the tech co-founder who will share your inspiration but it’s not necessary. At this point you will have the options for hiring:

— a freelancer

— in-house developers

— an outsourcing development agency

Every option has its pros and cons. Today it is not a problem to find a developer online. There are a lot of hiring platforms to pick from. Hiring a freelance developer might be cheap but you have to understand that all control, project management, requirements will lie on your shoulders. Without the tech background, it may become an issue to verify if the estimates are correct, if the selected technologies are appropriate or if some features need to be done or not.

Depending on the project’s complexity, one developer can be not enough. It’s really hard to find the person who will have decent experience working with all technologies and at the same, high level. 

Talking about creating an in-house team it’s a really strong solution but usually on the later stage when you’ll have a stable outcome from the product. The benefits are on the surface — you will be able to directly communicate and discuss all requirements sitting next to each other. However, it’s not easy to gather the team in the first place.

Often local full-time developers are more expensive than offshore staff while having the same skills.  Benefits fading if you’re not able to provide a comfortable office, equipment, keep an accountant to work together what leads to additional expenses. In the first stages, it might be crucial.

Finding the whole offshore team can be a fit if you’ll find an agency with a proven reputation. You will cut off operational and administrative expenses as the agency will take care of office rent, taxes, hardware and software, searching for a specialist, interviewing, and hiring them, and you will always be able to substitute a person on vacation, leave or sick period.

You get an experienced team consisting of developers, QA engineers, and project managers who are always in the process and aware of innovations, best practices, and options of solutions.

With an agency, you will be able to start the soon after the project is estimated.
But there are cons too, as the difference in time zones, language level, risk of the unfair contractor.  

Step 4

Create a Minimum Viable Product

Depending on the solution that you choose (code or no code for the first version) this step can vary and come before settling with the developer. At this stage, it’s important to think through the feature set and designs.

All about the MVP and how to build it more efficiently you can read in our previous article.

Final Thoughts

Launching a tech company is hard for anyone. The process is challenging, stressful, unpredictable. It is a challenge, a difficult task, but not an impossible one. You can learn everything you need and succeed. As we all know ‘haters gonna hate’ 🙂 and that technology is constantly changing, so it’s important to keep abreast of current trends always and to learn emerging methodologies.

When you keep abreast of yourself with the pace of technology, then you will be better equipped to keep up with the demands of your company.