Thank you for joining this episode of Ask Codelation. Today’s question comes to us from Quora, and the question is: “How do you start a tech startup as a non-technical founder?”
I think this is a common question from people who don’t have a strong programming background or no programming background at all. It’s not as complicated as you might think. A lot of people think that having a tech startup means you have to have all the technology up front, so being a non-technical person means you’re handicapped. I completely disagree with that.
I think the first thing that you need to do is make sure that you’ve got a really strong grasp on who your target market is. You either need to have people you can talk to in that market or have a really good understanding of the market, meaning that you’ve worked in it before. It’s important that you have a strong expertise in the market because at the end of the day, whether you’re technical or non-technical, it’s going to come down to if you know the problems that you’re trying to solve.
You’ve got a market in mind. You’ve got experience with it or you’ve got a group of people you can talk to about it. The very first thing you need to do is start asking questions. What are the major pain points of this market? What are the issues that the people in this market run into every single day? Start asking tons and tons and tons of questions. From talking to people in this market, you’re going to get a huge list of answers put together. This means that you can start to decide which pain points seem like problems that people would actually pay for a solution for.
Typically, these problems revolve around making things more efficient, meaning that you’re putting hours back into your customer’s day. This is one way that you can typically monetize. The other is if you can replace a hassle, headache, or automated process that typically is done manually, like automatic invoicing, for instance. This is a really crowded market, but think about it like this: people used to have to send invoices in the mail for somebody to get paid, and now you can easily and instantly send it in an email. That’s obviously something that people are going to pay for.
You’ve got an idea of the market and you’ve got an idea of the problem. Now, the third step is not to say, “Hey, if I just had the app built, this thing will blow up like crazy”, but instead to go the opposite direction and start super simple. Almost so simple and minimal that it doesn’t scale.
So in the case of the automated invoicing solution, you’d almost want to have a system that would allow you to manually control the invoices going out. You’d want a system in place that lets you manually go through the processes and become very, very high-touch with it. This way, you can get real feedback from the customer instead of trying to automate everything coming right out of the gate.
Hopefully, these tips have helped you understand a little bit more about how a nontechnical founder can create a tech startup.
It’s not as scary as you think. Get in, validate your market, make sure that you’ve got people that are willing to pay for a problem and start slowly and non-technically. Once you’ve got an idea of what people are willing to pay, you can go to them and sell them a solution. Then you can begin to hire people to build you the software you need.