Don't wait to find a Technical Co-Founder!
And more advice from Nelly Yusupova, Founder of TechSpeak, an online learning program that teaches entrepreneurs the most efficient & effective way to manage development teams and projects…all based on time-tested strategies and methodologies that she uses every day, on every feature, on every project, with every developer.
1.Do not build anything until you have a validated prototype!
The first thing I always say for technical and non-technical founders is not to build anything until you have validated a prototype. Validating and prototyping will allow you to find your market, have a solution that makes sense, and give you confidence before spending thousands and thousands of dollars in coding. You have to know that you have something and that people would be willing to pay for your product or service. Way too many people jump into coding way too fast. Writing code is step number 8 in my 10-step process. The 7 steps you do beforehand will help you develop a product that customers need and want. Define your MVP in a way that helps maximize your dollars.
2.Use existing platforms and APIs to build your MVP!
I got into web development and building startups in the early '90s. We had to custom code everything. In today's world, we have a lot of options that can help us speed up development. There is a combination of no-code or low code options. There are some custom developments, but there are a lot of platforms and APIs. These things help you cut development time. Outsourcing that part of the work to somebody else and only focusing on essentials is key for building an MVP. Getting to market quickly and cheaply is vital. This strategy is what I advise my clients to do, especially the non-techies. You are not optimizing for millions of users at this point.
3.Where you start is not going to be where you end up!
If you think of all the successful companies, where they started is not where they ended up. The process of understanding what the customers want and use is a continuous process. A startup is a series of experiments that you are running to see what works. You should not focus on quality and scaling to millions until you find product/market fit.
4.Don't wait to find a technical Co-Founder!
If you don't have a technical founder or a CTO, don't wait to find them before taking action. Your first choice is to find a technical Co-Founder. A lot of people sometimes wait years to take action because they can't find that person. The tech people willing to take a risk on a startup are either working on their own startup idea or already working for a startup. Also, these people can get jobs at Facebook, Google, or similar companies. All these other companies pay them thousands of dollars a year, and startups can't compete with that. Your job as an entrepreneur is to de-risk the opportunity for them. To do that, you have to validate the idea, build a prototype, and build a community around your idea. You might have to outsource the development. Then you can do as a non-technical person what your superpower is. While you are selling and gaining traction, you are so much more attractive to potential partners. Whether it is a technical partner, another partner, or even a VC or angel investor, you will attract more serious people to your startup. Missing the market opportunity is a real thing. Don't wait. If you have an idea that you think has legs, there are things that you can do every single day to move your startup forward, even though you may not have a technical partner or a whole team behind you.
5.You need to have enough tech knowledge to manage and communicate with an outsourced team.
Whether you outsource here in the US or offshore, you have to have an excellent process for managing the team. If you don't manage them, things will go awry. You won't understand the decisions that they are making for you. You don't know what you don't know. You won't know until it is too late whether something is done correctly or not. You need to have enough base knowledge to manage the team and communicate what they need. Entrepreneurs often leave the development to the outsourced team and check in every week or two. By the time you check in, decisions have already been made that will push you far behind.
I can't underly enough the importance of being tech-literate speaking the same language as tech people. You never want to be in the position of going to a mechanic without not knowing anything about cars, so you have to believe everything that they tell you. You don't want to be in that position when running your startup. You need to know a little about everything in all areas, not just tech, to stay on the same page as the people you are working with, so you can understand that the advice that they are giving you is correct. You can work more efficiently together when you both know the same language. Picture a person who speaks Russian and a person who speaks Chinese. How effective could they be when working on a project? It is the same thing with tech people and business people. There is so much that is not understood and so much that gets missed. That directly affects the product that is outputted. You don't need to know how to code, but you need to know enough tech lingo to take ownership of the product, understand the right questions, and comprehend the advice given to you.