Majority of aspiring entrepreneurs these days to want to build a tech-based business, be it a mobile app, a cloud-based service or a social sharing platform. It’s the current state of the world we live in – more and more of us are tech native. But we’re not necessarily software developers or network architects. Far from it. While knowing how to code certainly helps if you’re trying to found a tech startup, it’s not an absolute imperative. At the moment, tech startups couldn’t be hotter. The only problem for entrepreneurs? Most of them think of snakes when they hear python and have no idea what ruby on rails means. But if you’re convinced that your complete lack of technical know-how is an obstacle you can’t overcome on your path to founding a business with roots in tech, there are more than a few tech startups founded by non-tech inclined people who you can look to for inspiration. The basic advice is to focus on what you do best and then build your enterprise around those skills. If you’re an good salesperson, let that be your specialty. Storytelling, after all, is important in the tech business, as you’re always trying to connect with and persuade other people. Give people a reason to listen and you’re on your way to convincing them.
- Know what you can and can’t do: There are different levels to not having technical skills – ranging from not knowing how to set up the email on your smartphone to not knowing how to operate a VCR. You can still found a tech startup regardless of the category you’re in, but where you are technically will have a huge impact on what it will take for you to succeed. Even though you are non-technical, you might still have some very valuable skills. Focus on what you can do and make a list of it. Aside from coding, tech startups need a lot of work in many areas such as research, fundraising, recruiting, marketing, PR, etc. Write down all of your relevant skills and list what you will do and by what date. It is important to have this in writing and to set deadlines. Without measurable goals, there is a good chance that it won’t happen.
- Network: Networking and forming valuable connections is crucial to the success of any startup. More so if you have no technical experience. Apart from needing to find competent developers, you will also need mentorship and an outside source of funds. The team behind Hukkster – a service for assisting shoppers buy items at the price they want – networked for a long time before even starting out. “We talked to anyone and everyone that we knew or maybe grandma’s uncle knew that was in the start-up space,” said Katie Finnegan. “We did that for three or four months. Like, every weekend.”
- Don’t be afraid to look dumb: You might feel silly more than a few times when you ask your development team to explain an unfamiliar concept, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking. You will feel much less dumb when you end up with the exact product that you want. When your tech startup team starts talking in technical jargon and loses you completely, don’t be afraid to ask what they mean and get explanations for what you don’t understand. Be comfortable when digging into the details because it will help you learn the jargon as well. Don’t just say, ‘Oh, they’re the experts,’ because it’s your company, and at the end of the day, you’re accountable for the decisions made.
- Get a technical cofounder: The process of getting a cofounder for your tech startup is more like a series of projects which will serve as tests – not just of the person’s ability, but also of their character and whether or not you would like to work with them long-term. If you work well with someone, take on another small project. If they’re not a good fit, move on to the next person. Take small steps and keep in mind that technical skills are important, but it is only part of the package you are looking for. You want the person to have a personality that will be a good fit for the company you are starting.