Startups Explained

10 tips for non-tech startup founders

Launching a tech startup as a non-tech founder can be tough. That's why we've prepared 10 useful tips to help you navigate this journey.
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Are you venturing into a tech startup without a technical background? Don't worry, you're not alone. While about 90% of startups face significant challenges, those who succeed do so by mastering strategic management and smart decision-making. In this article, we'll equip you with 10 actionable tips specifically curated for non-tech founders.

You'll learn how to select the right development team, understand the basics of tech, and communicate effectively to drive your project forward. These insights are designed to help you build your minimum viable product (MVP) more efficiently, streamline your operations, and enhance your startup’s potential for success.

Pick your devs right

A successful product starts with the right team. It's crucial to choose developers who are not only technically skilled but also share your (product) vision and commitment. This means looking beyond the cost to consider the long-term value developers bring through their understanding of your market and product goals. If you're looking for a tech team that can step up and act as your tech co-founder, get in touch and let's see how we can accelerate the development of your project.

When it comes to the development of your product, don't try to minimize the budget at all cost. Work with partners who know what they're doing, align with your vision, and let them do their job like the professionals they are. You need to be aligned with the person/team who's building your product at every stage of product development, even if you're pushing your MVP.

A very often mistake for non-tech founders is to try and learn how to code themselves. Learning technical skills to build a commercial product is a long journey and you will need to study different technologies and you will most likely spend a lot of time fixing bugs. So, again - just pick your devs right!

Don’t avoid all things tech

Though you don’t need to be a tech expert, having a basic understanding of the technologies that power your product is essential. This foundational knowledge will help you make informed decisions and keep your project on track. Of course, you won’t need an IT degree or some in-depth knowledge of writing code, but you should feel comfortable around the topic. So, ask questions and listen to your tech partners when they educate you.

Develop excellent communication skills

The synergy within your team can significantly impact your startup’s success. Collaborating with individuals who share your passion and understand the project’s value can drive efficiency and innovation. Once you've selected a team of professionals you can trust, forget about micromanaging. Of course, there needs to be a well-established outline of the project, but let's face it - you may not always know what the best approach or deadline is. So, assemble your dream team, communicate everything in a clear, straight-forward manner and let them develop your product.

Now that we've mentioned how important it's to have a dream team, let's talk a bit about how to build one!

Work with people with the same beliefs

Easier said than done? Not really. Work with people who are experts when it comes to software development, but most importantly, who are also both passionate about your project and understand its value. Make sure you learn about their beliefs in advance. Find out what gets them pumped up, not just in business, but in life.

Find the right co-founder

Don’t look for a developer to be your co-founder so that they can code for free. We’ve already covered this, but let’s say it one more time: don’t try to save money when it comes to developing. Instead, find the best partner to match your ideas, values and beliefs. Find someone who you can trust and work with side by side and together you will grow your team step by step towards success.

Don’t expect a fixed price and timeline

Yes, a good development team will give you educated estimates in terms of price and timeline, and no, you shouldn’t start your project without any estimate. However, your tech partner can’t tell you with absolute certainty how much your product will cost or how long it will take to deliver. You will have to accept some risk that the product may cost more and take longer than estimated. That’s yet another reason to choose your tech partner wisely.

Don’t wait too long to launch your product

Have you heard? The time when shiny new products are polished to perfection before their official launch is over. So now what? Well, just follow the lean approach! This means releasing early and then developing further over time. Or in other words, release your MVP (minimum viable product) - a version of your product which will allow your team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.

Don’t forget about simplicity

“Young founders tend to complicate things too much, from structuring partnership agreements, financing, leases, etc. This is not a place to be creative; keep it simple.”

— Jay Levy, Co-Founder, Zelkova Ventures and Uproot Wines

Jay said it best, we don’t need to elaborate further. Make sure you don’t lose focus. We know there’s a lot going on and you have countless decisions to make. Just keep it simple and remember to hold tight to that big idea you started with as you go.

Embrace agility

Focus on words like ‘nimble,’ ‘flexible,’ ‘speedy,’ and ‘free-flowing.’ You have to keep an open mind and stay agile enough to overcome changes and bumps. Be quick to adapt and stay sharp, but flexible. Create an agile workflow dynamic and you will be able to forecast when to bend, pivot, and alter to accommodate demands. Have in mind that being adaptive, seamless, competitive, evolutionary, and innovative are necessary for your success.

And last but not least, a mistake most people, regardless of if they are non-tech founders or they run a bakery is …not trusting themselves.

Trust yourself

We know this one is a bit cheesy but seriously… trust yourself! You’ve spent the time to find the best developers, you’ve learnt to be a great communicator, you’ve adopted some lean principles, and you are focused and well-prepared. So go ahead and do your thing!

FAQ

How important is it for a non-tech founder to understand technology?

While you don't need to be a tech expert, having a basic understanding of the technologies that power your product is crucial. This knowledge helps you make informed decisions, communicate effectively with your development team, and keep your project on track.

What should I look for when selecting a development team?

Choose a development team that not only has the technical skills required but also shares your vision and commitment to the product. Look for developers who understand your market and can contribute to long-term product goals, not just those who fit your budget.

How can I develop effective communication with my tech team?

Developing excellent communication skills is key. Ensure that you have clear, open lines of communication with your team. Avoid micromanaging, but maintain regular updates and feedback sessions to ensure everyone is aligned with the project goals.

What is the significance of finding the right co-founder?

Finding the right co-founder is crucial because this person will share the entrepreneurial journey with you. Look for someone who shares your values, beliefs, and vision for the startup. This partnership can significantly influence the success and strategic direction of your business.

Why should I avoid waiting too long to launch my product?

Embrace the lean startup methodology, which emphasizes the importance of launching early to test hypotheses and iterate based on user feedback. Releasing an MVP allows you to learn what works and what doesn't with minimal resource expenditure, adjusting your product more effectively to meet market demands.

What does it mean to embrace agility in a tech startup?

Being agile means being able to quickly adapt to changes and challenges in the startup environment. It involves being flexible and responsive to feedback, enabling you to pivot or make changes as necessary to enhance your product's appeal and functionality.

How can a non-tech founder ensure their product stays simple?

Focus on the core features that address your customers' main problems and avoid overcomplicating your product with unnecessary features. This simplicity helps maintain clarity in your product development and can make your product easier for users to adopt.

What are the risks of underestimating project timelines and budgets?

Underestimating the time and cost to develop a product can lead to rushed decisions, subpar product quality, and financial strain. It’s important to have realistic expectations and prepare for potential overruns, ensuring that your project has enough flexibility to adapt to unforeseen challenges.

How can non-tech founders leverage their skills in a tech startup?

Non-tech founders can leverage their strengths in business development, marketing, strategic thinking, and customer relations. These skills are complementary to the technical skills brought by developers and are crucial for driving the business side of the startup.

What steps should a non-tech founder take to build their MVP efficiently?

  • Focus on building a minimum set of features that meet the core needs of your target audience.
  • Work closely with your development team to ensure alignment with the project goals.
  • Utilize user feedback to iterate and improve the product.
  • Manage resources wisely to maintain sustainability while the product is refined based on market response.
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