Software Development and the Non-Technical Startup Founder
by Nicolas Jacobeus, on 27 November 2017
You don’t need to have an IT background to create a new product or service that makes use of technology. But without a technical background, you may second guess your decisions or feel you are at a disadvantage.
In our work as a software development agency, we help launch business ideas. We work with a lot of startups.
Sometimes a technical leader is behind the new company, or they’ve already hired a CTO. But often the founder has no technical background -- just a great idea he or she wants to get off the ground.
We have observed some differences between working with technical and non-technical startup founders over the years. Non-technical founders might be surprised to learn they actually have an advantage in some ways.
The thing with technical startup founders
The thing with technical people is they go very quickly to the technical side.
A technical founder will easily dive into the details. They want to get into the weeds and give advice, even though we have industry best practices we follow.
For us, an important part of establishing a relationship with a startup technical founder is building trust upfront and showing how we approach our work. We want them to be comfortable letting us do what we do, without having to explain every line of code. That would be inefficient for both parties.
On the flip side, an understanding of how programmers work can be helpful when discussing challenges that come up. The startup founder with a technical background understands naturally there will be setbacks on some fronts and possibly faster progress on others.
However, their expertise still only gives them part of the picture.
How a non-technical startup founder may have an advantage
It’s important to understand that when we work on a new product or business idea, we provide more than coding.
If your product is ready to be coded, there are plenty of software programmers who can create exactly what you ask for. But there is a lot that needs to happen before you get to the point where you start building code.
In fact, when you’re creating a software product, the technical side is only a piece of the complete picture.
Your new product is going to be used by people so first you have to understand how your target audience thinks. You need to understand market demand and validate your idea before you invest in creating a complete product. You need a solid understanding of the problem you are solving before you even start thinking about features.
Many non-technical founders create a product to solve a problem they have observed in their experience. They often bring expertise related to the mindset of the customer. Perhaps they also have skills in marketing. Or industry compliance. Or finance. Or logistics...
Without first understanding the market, all the technical skills in the world will not help your product succeed. Technology simply provides a means to bring a product to life. The job of any startup founder is to focus on getting the market right. And then you focus on using the skills you do have.
We have been through this process with non-technical and technical founders many times. The core steps guide the development of your startup idea through the major stages even when you have no technical skills. You can start small and get a sense of what it’s like to work with a software agency partner first, to make sure they are a good fit for you. Let us know if you’d like to chat.