I have a business idea that I am very passionate about and happy to put all the time and effort I can to turn it into a business.
I am busy doing research into the market and competitors and attending workshops to to and figure out how to not just be an idea any more.
The issues I have is that I have no Tech knowledge so will need to hire/get a programmer on board - would it be best to find someone wanting to join as a co-founder? or hire one as an employee? or even go down the route of getting an agency to build the tech side?
Being young and with limited experience I am finding it hard to figure out the 'next steps' and have found that wherever I turn they just tell me to write a business plan, which I am working on, but it is obviously easier said than done.
I've been there (6 months ago to be exact). I wanted to start an online platform for businesses but I didn't have the tech knowledge to follow through. I realized I didn't even have the cash to pay an employee regularly and that it would take about a year for my business to make a bit of cash. So I brought in a co-founder with the tech expertise I needed.
I do the Sales & Marketing and he handles the tech portion of the business. I'm quite happy with the decision I've made because if I did bring an employee on board I would have to worry about paying him regularly. Furthermore, my co-founder having a stake in my company is more focussed on innovation and product development than an employee would be. We are able to brainstorm and come up with new ideas, it also helps when I meet clients and I get to check with him directly if certain tech requests can be catered to or not.
I'm relatively inexperienced myself but this is what worked for me. If you need any further details, drop me a message.
Find great people to help.
Get them to work together as a team
I know, it is a lot easier said than done, but many people spend too much time doing something else - like writing a business plan, or looking for a programmer that will work for $5/hr. If you are the CEO, your job is to lead the team - this is your "job 1".
In the beginning, you only have equity, so be prepared to pay the team with this equity.
There are many options you could try, each of them have their pros and cons, and it really depends on which are your priorities for the moment.
Here you have a few factors that you should be considering when getting your first tech product team:
1. What type of product are you building
First, it usually depends on what type of product you are building. (it could be a marketplace, a SaaS platform, a mobile app, a gaming app, an e-commerce platform etc.)
2. Skill set and expertise level
Considering where you are in the process of product development, you will need different skill set with different expertise level for every step you make.
The roles are very different (software engineers, technical architects, business analysts, QA engineers, front-end developer, back-end developer, mobile developers - hybrid or iOS or Android, UX/UI designer, database administrator, DevOps engineer, Scrum Master, QC engineer etc.).
For example in the early development phase you will need a Product Manager, an UX/UI designer and 1-2 full stack developers... later you will need more engineers plus other new roles such as mobile engineers (iOS, Android, hybrid) , DevOps, Scrum Master, QA/QC engineers etc.
3. Budget and burn rate
Also, it depends how fast you want to move and how much money are you looking to burn in the early stage of your product development when your product doesn't have any traction.
4. Team expectations
What are your expectations regarding the team? Are you expecting that your team should be efficient from the first months when they will start working together? Are you aware that it will take time until they will manage to work together as a high performance team and become very efficient?
How are you going to organize the team? Are you aware of the software development best practices? Are you aware of what process should be used when you're building a product from Zero (idea) to One (marketable product)?
Are your business assumptions validated with real customers?
Based on all the assumptions that you are building your software product, it is better to approach the development process in a disciplined manner so you could easily adapt to your customer needs.
For this disciplined manner you will need to build your digital product using a framework for early stage product development.
I would recommend you to map your business case on the SaaS Execution Map, a methodology for early stage startups that helps them to clarify all the aspects regarding the execution part.
It is a tool that approaches all the aspects regarding the execution of a software project that starts from Zero.
Using it you will clarify:
Hope it was useful.
All the best,
This is a relevant topic for us at 10kstartup. I'd like to redirect you to this article, well written by my cofounder: CTO, Developers, Agency? What’s the Best Way to Build Your Startup?
It highlights the pros and cons of on-boarding a Soulmate CTO, hiring developers and outsourcing the MVP to an agency.
Hope you'll have a good read!
Find a local mentor that can work side by side with you to guide you through this process. Taking an idea to a product and then to a company is not for the faint of heart and if you try to do it alone, it will be an uphill battle. A good business plan and regular mentoring to get you past the idea stage to execution is worth 1-2% equity.
Search for a local group of entrepreneurs or an incubator where you can seek out resources and support. In that exercise, you may find a tech co-founder. This is highly recommended, as paying for tech, even with an agency is tough if you don't have the knowledge to hold them accountable. Even those of us that have deep tech knowledge have had missteps with development, so this is an area where you need someone by your side that can help you turn your idea into a product and then into a company.
I am just going through this same process myself. I am non technical but am trying to create a proptech company, I have completed plenty of research and spoken to industry professionals to validate the idea.
Recently I have spoken to agencies that will create a MVP version, I have looked into hiring a team temporarily and have spoken to potential co-founders. Me personally I am a little wary of using an agency, for two reasons, the costs, but most importantly I want the person who builds the product to have the same passion as me for the company so we can create something that can deliver the most value. I figured as this is a journey I am committed to go on and if I cant convince anyone to join me on the journey, then my vision may not be compelling enough. This is just my view right now, which may change after a sustained period of time of not being able to find a co-founder. I wish you luck!!
What I would say is going though the business plan made me understand the extent of the project in terms of the nuts and bolts that are required in order to execute. I have a template that someone sent me which was pretty straight forward to go through, let me know if you would like me to send it to you.
Dont worry about creating a business plan or finding CTO or Agency to build your idea just yet. You need to test your idea. You can find a lot of resources on the web how to validate a startup idea. Read A Lean Startup book by Eric Ries if you want to dig a bit further.
It's good to be young so you have time to learn and and master your craft. Networking is essential for your future success in startup. Start go to local Meetup groups, eg developers, business development, marketing and sales, and etc. to make friends or find mentors.
I would like to know more about your choice of the technology and the development platform...
I'd be happy to help you with your situation, which is one I have also been in. Feel free to drop me a message / email.
Having a business plan shows that someone has done his or her homework and isn't just daydreaming. I see it has the first filter. Often it turns out that the idea wasn't so good after all. And this revelation often emerges after you've thoroughly dealt with the market. I have built a number of platforms for clients and am vested in a few of them, but I am one of those who generally requests a business plan. Your mission is to excite someone about your idea and it works best if you know the market and the relevant numbers like the back of your hand.