If you’re a non-technical entrepreneur venturing into the parallel universe of Tech Startups, you’re probably worried about your chances of success.
But wait a minute! How about the fantastic new features of this update? How about the smartest Siri so far, the disclosed unknown callers or the split screen? Aren’t all these improvements worth fighting for, installing and running iOS 9?
But, because you’re here, reading this blog – here’s our next stellar advice: Stop worrying and start getting your hands dirty (with knowledge, obviously!)!
That’s exactly what AJ Forsythe, founder of iCracked, did. And so, we segue into our first startup success story to motivate you.
Startup Success Story #1
AJ Forsythe had started his iPhone repair service when he was still in college. He’d damaged his iPhone and didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on its repair. So he ordered the requisite parts from the global ecommerce website Alibaba, and taught himself to repair his phone. That’s how he stumbled across this goldmine of niche, and today iCracked makes $25 million annually in revenue.
Startup Success Story #2
Rob Rawson, the founder of Staff.com, was a medical doctor with an entrepreneurial spirit. He practiced medicine for 2 years, before he finally threw in the towel and decided to devote all of his time to online business. In an effort to transition his business from working in an office to working from home, he came up with the ideas for Time Doctor and Staff.com, and he hasn’t looked back since.
He recruited a 5 person technical team to bring his ideas to life, and left the technical stuff to them. He, on the other hand, took care of everything else which included everything from UX testing, Social Media, Web Content, Marketing, HR, Finance, Funding etc.
Still not convinced a non-technical entrepreneur can run a wildly successful tech startup? Then take a look at these other amazing people:
Alibaba – Founder Jack Ma has a degree in English
NerdWallet – Founder Tim Chen has a banking background
Getaround – Jessica Scorpia started her peer-peer car sharing startup despite her Bachelors in Political Science
Pandora – Tim Westergren was an award winning composer, musician and record producer before he founded Pandora
The list could go on, but hopefully you get the picture: YOU.CAN.DO.IT. TOO!
4 Things A Non-Tech Entrepreneur Must Do For Startup Success
Now that you know, you DON’T need to be a coder or technologically savvy to start a tech startup – then your next question probably will be (should be!): what do I need to do to ensure my tech startup’s success?
Here are a few things a non-technical entrepreneur can do, to make sure his tech startup starts on the right path:
1. Ask Your Customer
You’ve got a great idea for a product that could help people. But, before you go any further you need to make sure your customers think the same.
Travis Steffen nailed it perfectly when he said, “your idea must come from the customer, not you.“
Try and find out the following when you contact your customers:
What are the challenges your product will be solving?
Is your perceived problem actually real (for them), or are you trying to solve a problem that doesn’t even exist?
Would they be willing to buy your product? If, yes then how much money would they be willing to spend over it?(acceptable product cost)
Essentially, this part is called “collecting customer insight”. You shouldn’t even think of developing your product before understanding your customers’ needs, completely.
In fact, because you’re the non-tech guy/gal in charge you’re the perfect person to be asking your customers their opinions directly. If you were a techie, then you might have confused your customers with all the technical jargon you would have ultimately (though, unintentionally!) used.
2. Create a Crude Mockup
I know what you’re thinking: I’m not a tech guy/gal, how can I create a mockup of my product? Well, let us explain! A mockup doesn’t have to be a coded version of your product.
A mockup simply has to be the representation of your product – an explanation of what your product will actually do for its users, based on the opinions you gathered from your customers. It can be a crude drawing, a power point presentation that gets the point of your product across etc. Here are a few not technical ways you can create a mockup of your product:
Power Point Slides
Photoshop or Other Image Editor Tools
If you think you can’t manage even that, then you can hire a tech savvy high school kid to create a mockup using one of the methods above. Offer him/her a reference for their college application and/or an hourly rate, and see how h/she will pounce at the opportunity to help you.
The purpose of your Mockup is to help you demonstrate the idea of your product to potential investors, prospects, co-founder/s and team members/employees.
3. Start Pre-Selling
It’s not enough that your potential customers tell you that they like your product and would use it once launched. Convince them to pre-buy it. Offer them discounts and incentives such as free gifts (it can be something as small as a free t-shirt) if they pre-order the product. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you effectively pre-sell your product.
Not only does pre-selling further validates your idea, but it will become even easier to convince investors to invest in your startup, to find a co-founder and even more customers.
4. Start Your Search for a Technical Co-Founder
Before you start looking for a technical partner, you need to be absolutely confident in your product idea. You should do all the above mentioned legwork before you fill the position. The more confident you are in your product, the easier will it be to convince your partner of the same.
You might be wondering, do I really need a technical co-founder? Well, not necessarily, but having someone, you can trust, who understands the inner workings of the product will be a huge advantage when you move into the hiring and development stages.
Also, statistically speaking, startups with 2 co-founders have a higher chance of success.
Now, how do you hire a technical co-founder? First, let’s start off with what not to do. Travis Biziorek, co-founder and CEO of Kibin.com, urges entrepreneurs to not talk about their search for a co-founder as, well, a search. In Kibin’s earlier stages he was facing a similar situation; it was proving difficult to hire a technical co-founder.
Until, he says, “I woke up one day and realized I was asking people to join me rather than having people ‘ask’ to join.” So, he started pitching his search along the lines of “you need me, as much as we need you!“
Where to search for technical Co-Founders?
You can look for technical co-founders through social media and job sites, sure. But, how can you be sure they have the skills and experience you need? You can’t. Unless you test them for a short trial period of 1-3 months. If, in case, they don’t end up being the partner you were hoping for, you’d not only have to part ways, start your search again but, you would have lost precious months in the process.
So, what’s the alternative?
Hire or negotiate a deal with an experienced app development company that specializes in helping startups. They can guide you and your product through the ups and downs of building a profitable startup or company. From idea validation, product development, funding and launch – they can be your one-stop-shop for everything you may need for the success of your business.
If you’re a non-technical entrepreneur starting a tech/non-tech startup – things can become a bit overwhelming. However, if you follow the above tips you are sure to start your startup onto the right path. You can further improve your chances of success by educating yourself about every aspect of your product, technical and otherwise, in your free time.