Startups · Entrepreneurship

Can a non-technical person create a startup?

sandy edri It manager at VR

September 14th, 2016

This is a huge question that I have in mind right now. We are two business developers trying to execute with a tech heavy startup. Is our current founding structure a no go? 
Especially keeping in mind that we are going to have to fundraiser at some point.

Dave Perry Global Business Strategist & Technology Commercialization Consultant

September 14th, 2016

Sandy, you would not start a restaurant without a chef and you cannot create a tech-heavy startup without a having a (great) technical person on the team - preferably as a founder. This was a costly lesson that I now pass along to you for free! Dave

Joe Albano, PhD Using the business of entrepreneurialism to turn ideas into products and products into sustainable businesses.

September 14th, 2016

I'll start by pointing out that not all startups are tech startups - but you have pointed out that your startup is "tech heavy". 

Next, I'll point out that the road from just starting up to being ready for VC funding is long and difficult - the vast majority of companies don't make it. Our friends at The Angel Capital Association tell us that about 500,000 startups get founded in the US every year. Less than 500 get classic VC funding. 

When "professional" investors look at a tech company, they generally look for tech capability (is there someone on the team who can manage the technology and make the tech pieces fit together to make the business model work). Next, they will want some assurances that your CTO (or CTO equivalent) is fully invested in the company ... generally, that means "is a cofounder". 

David M

September 21st, 2016

What is the purpose of quoting the odds of failure?  I think most people in this forum have heard the high odds against funding.  First, it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the question asked.  Second, if the odds of failure apply to one, then perhaps one should not be pursuing entrepreneurship.  Third, most of the people I come across who constantly cite how difficult entrepreneurship is and the odds are rarely doing anything more than advising or teaching.  When you are exhausting efforts, you don't have time to constantly tell people how difficult entrepreneurship is or raising funding, or all the many ways you can fail.

If the question was "How difficult is entrepreneurship, and what are the odds to raise funding, that is the time to regurgitate stats you read in books and online and in forums you attend while entrepreneurs for whom the odds don't apply are busy building their companies.

The answer to the question is absolutely a "non technical" person can create a startup.  A "creative person" can as well.  Learn your strengths, and your weakness and build a great team and a great product and you will have success. Instead of listening to people say what can and cant be done, follow your heart, and support your mind with the needed competence to succeed.  Hire people who are smarter than you, never stop learning, or growing, and you will succeed.

Aldrin Alphonso Director - Future Wave Technologies.

September 14th, 2016

If you believe in your ideas, hold on to it and look for like minded people. You can always outsource the development work building the initial blocks.
Once you have a fair part of the development puzzle sorted, you can talk to people in your network or look within the outsource team if they have someone who could partner with you and there you have your tech expert.

Good Luck.

Teddy Matheu CEO at Clear Idea Labs, LLC

September 14th, 2016

Yes actually I personally prefer that.  Even if the startup requires a great deal of technical expertise, the co founders can be non technical.  I am actually working with a founder in our incubator that has no technical background.  However his idea is worth pursuing and everyone is on board and deep in the development process.

However, at the end of the day, you will need a solid CTO to bring the technical aspects of the business to life.

Good Luck!

Steve Owens

September 15th, 2016

My experience is that they do a better job (on average) than a technical person - and I am a technical person that has started (and exited) 4 different companies.

It likely makes very little difference.  Technical people tend to focus inward and biz people, especially sales people, tend to focus outwardly on customers.  The latter is a better strategy for startups.

Martin Omansky Independent Venture Capital & Private Equity Professional

September 14th, 2016

As long as you have something of substance to organize around (IP, for example), then I don't see why not, although I would make sure the technology is appropriately cared for. Sent from my iPhone

Raja Kumar Code Surgeries | Micro Fixed Bids | Scala | Go | Kotlin | ReactJS | Android | Java | NFR Doctor

September 14th, 2016

My analysis say that, non technical people can do better business while technical people can create better product. Non technical person should have long term vision and knows how to take technical team along.. rather than trying to be 100% on customer side always..then eventually such business would have higher chances of survival... Balance many sides.. including technical side..

Sebastien Mirolo CEO DjaoDjin inc.

September 14th, 2016

I agree with the previous statements:

- a tech-heavy startup needs a tech co-founder.
- not all businesses are tech-heavy, or require leading-edge tech.

David Johns Providing experienced entrepreneurial, educational choice and non-profit management consulting.

September 14th, 2016

Yes indeed, with the right people.  I have done it.  A word of caution though.  Many suggest adding co-founders.  I tend to be more stingy with ownership as I have been burned that way.  There are a number of ways to work it, co-founding is just one.