Starting a new tech startup can be a scary thing if you are a non-technical founder. These would-be founders often give up on great ideas because they are convinced that they need money to pay a developer or spend hours acquiring the technical skill themselves.
If you’re a non-technical founder with a great startup idea, please, don’t fall into this trap.
Your dreams of creating the next big thing do not have to die because of your inability to code. The #1 ingredient to successful entrepreneurship is determination. Your passion and determination for that idea will open doors for you that you never thought possible.
Here are 3 ways you can get your startup idea off the ground and start the business you have always wanted:
1. Find a Technical Co-Founder
Bringing on someone as a Technical Co-Founder comes with a long list of benefits. There are so many things to juggle when creating a startup and having someone handle all the tech will allow you to focus on these areas and take your business to the next level.
Think of all the things you can do now without any distractions! Things like:
- Surveying/talking to potential customers for feedback
- Nailing down a list of features for your MVP
- Creating an air tight marketing strategy
Things to consider
You will have to offer equity to bring on a co-founder, and if your startup depends on technology, be ready to hand over somewhere between 25% – 50%. Yikes!
Also, quality co-founders are hard to come by. The most talented either have awesome high paying jobs or are busy working on ideas of their own. This means it will be an uphill battle when trying to find the ideal candidate. The odds of being able to take good talent away from what they are currently working on are low. Leaving you with a talent pool that is less than stellar.
Reducing the risk
Have more than just an idea when pitching to a potential co-founder. Come to the table with designs, a prototype and/or action plans, even if they are not perfect. This will help you get communicate vision more effectively and help you become more attractive to top talent. Us tech guys love to work with people who make our jobs easier!
Even better, if you already have some customers who are waiting in line to use your product!
Share your plans on how you will pull your weight, and then actually do it. Your company should not live and die on the success of your tech guy.
Contracting out your development work can be promising. It also comes with many of the same benefits as having a co-founder; you get to focus on business, strategy, customers, etc.
Unlike bringing in another partner, the upfront investment won’t cost you any equity, leaving you as the sole shot-caller and largest stakeholder.
Depending on your feature list, you can usually get a version of your product out in a very timely manner. A good developer will also often produce a better quality product than the next door neighbor you gave equity to just because he “knows code”.
Things to consider
Hiring a developer or agency is expensive. It can cost you anywhere from $50-$300+ an hour, and if you are like most startup founders, money is tight. This often leads founders into a “race to the bottom”, searching for the cheapest development they can find, but they are unknowingly sacrificing quality.
Also, there is almost a guarantee that your project will not stay on budget if you don’t hire the right developer. Development projects are notorious for being underestimated. The level of detail needed to provide an accurate estimate will have you wondering why you just don’t code the thing yourself.
Try to work with the most experienced developers. Their expertise will help fill in gaps to provide a more accurate assessment of your project. They will provide even more value if they have prior experience in your area. The heightened level of knowledge and experience will not only help you with the budget but will get you a quality product to be proud of.
For lower budget projects, I suggest finding developers on upwork. If you have a little more to spend, I suggest a quick google search for development agencies in your area. A quick search, such as “Atlanta App Agencies”, would return a reliable list of developers. Especially if you are in any major city.
3. Create an MVP yourself
A Minimal Viable Product or MVP is a product that has just enough value for people to use it or buy it initially. It is a very popular way to land early customers and validate an idea.
Although a little intimidating, learning how to create an MVP on your own can be the most beneficial option you have as a non-technical founder. It allows you to get a version of your app in front of customers for far less than what it cost to outsource or bring on another founder.
Things to consider
Depending on the features of your app/site, there is an overwhelming number of tools that you can use. Most of these tools have a fee and will come with some level of a learning curve. Because of this, it can take some time to get your MVP built.
How to make it work
The goal here is to create a minimized version of your product so that you can achieve product/market fit and raise capital through either sales or outside investment. Then, once you have the capital, you can hire in house developers.
For startup founders interested in using an MVP to achieve product/market fit, I will create a post to walk you through it step by step. Click here to subscribe to our email list so that we can let know you when it’s ready! You can also reach out to us for 1-0n-1 help in the mean time.
Start by minimizing your feature list down to just core functions. You don’t want to find yourself wasting time on a feature that your customers don’t really need.
Next develop as much as you can using tools that do not require coding knowledge. Here are a few tools that you can use:
- Website creations: strikingly.com, squarespace.com, or wordpress.com
- Landing page: Generator, or Leadpages
- Mobile & Web apps: bubble.is
A beginner’s level of coding knowledge will be extremely beneficial as well. Pickup just enough skills to build out the parts of your app that the tools above do not provide. Learning how to code will also help when hiring and managing developers down the line. Consider Udemy’s Python Django course for a great start.
When building your MVP, remember done is better than perfect. Once your MVP is built, continue to get feedback and make improvements as you start to acquire customers.
Bringing it all together, just because you are a non-technical founder doesn’t mean you’re not able to make a valuable tech based startup. Start pounding the pavement today, setting your self up to either bring in a co-founder, outsource the work, or build the first version yourself, and months from now you will see how far you have come when you once thought it was not possible.
Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed, please leave a comment below.