Entrepreneurship · CTO

What is your guidance for a non tech person who wants to start a tech based start up ?

Subir Verma Head HR & IR (WR) at TATA Power

March 27th, 2016

Share your practical thoughts for a non tech person who wants to start a tech based start up with ready idea and product, but do not have technological expertise.

David Meachin Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (and Founder) at Cross Border Enterprises, L.L.C.

March 27th, 2016

Find a REALLY GOOD Tech person and incentivize him/her with a meaningful slice of the equity, phased in over time in accordance with important milestones. This is a competitive world where if you don't have top quality technology (ideally in due course patented) others will copy your idea with a better technology mousetrap.  Also, at the start (not later on) have your lawyers draw up a contract which makes it clear to the tech person/partner that the technology developed BELONGS TO THE COMPANY, not to the tech person, to avoid the possibility, which can happen, that down the road the partnership doesn't work out and the tech person takes the technology with him/her to set up a competing entity and leaves you with a great idea but no technology.  Also good to ensure that you have a good working knowledge of what the technology is about so that if you later have to pick up with other technology partners you are not confronted with a "Black Box" where the only person who knows how the technology works is your now departed, former tech person.


 

Kim Albee Marketing Automation & Content Marketing Strategist

March 27th, 2016

I agree with both David & Michael. Unless you can hire a good technologist right away.  Most great ideas that need tech but founder doesn't have that skill will end up with lousy architecture that will need to get rebuilt if you gain traction.  

Don't go cheap on the tech side either, if that's what is core to your product. 




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

March 27th, 2016

FD is littered with discussions about the value of ideas ... bottom line is that the sustainability of your business depends on the ability to execute on those ideas in a way that clients/customers are willing to pay for. 

With that in mind, here are a few thoughts: 
  • Are you clear about what your ongoing contribution to the enterprise will be? It's great to know what you need, but what do you bring to the table? 
  • Are you looking for an employee or a co-founder? If you're looking for an employee you need to understand the basics of value-for-money (you get what you pay for). Can you afford the services that you need? 
  • If you are looking for a cofounder, why does your cofounder need you? "Idea people" often focus on the (imagined) value idea and not on the value required turn the idea into products and services. 
  • Once again - why does the business need you? Will you do marketing? product management? fundraising? what is the value of what you bring relative to the value provided by your employees/cofounders/investors? 
  • Where will the money come from? In addition to the runway for your business (amount of time, money, and other resources required before your business gets off the ground) - what is the runway for you personally and each of your cofounders and key employees? 
Ideas are one small piece in building a successful and sustainable business. Each contributor in the chain of turning an idea into a business tends to overvalue their contribution and undervalue others. So - do everything you can to be realistic, make sure you are very clear about how contributions will be valued, and be clear about the difference between compensation (pay) and equity.  

Lynoure Braakman scrum master and programmer

March 28th, 2016

Get some initial feedback from tech people you know, even before you start talking to potential cofounders. Learn a bit about the technology so that you can have a meaningful dialogue with your potential tech cofounders. Too often one sees non-tech people assume programming takes no time at all, or that every problem is feasible to solve with computers. Having those illusions would attract more charlatans than real cofounders.

Michael Clayton I.T. Manager at Select Racing (Vic) Australia

March 27th, 2016

My advise would be to  join a technology based startup group at meetup com in your city. They have some great information nights on this subject.

Gonzague PATINIER Looking for new opportunities in ASEAN

March 27th, 2016

Partnering/Hiring a "good" tech person come to mind.

However, how "strategic" is it for the start-up to have these tech skills in-house, compare to getting it from outside (contractor/outsourcer)?

You could still develop the concept/prototype in-house with minimum tech skills, while having a 3rd party do the implementation.


Jeffrey Pearl Entrepreneur, CEO and Sales Leader

March 27th, 2016

You must find a technical partner or find a way to partner with a technical company that is on a similar path. MAKE it a great day! Jeffrey R. Pearl | Vice President, Global Channel Acceleration| BroadSoft, Inc. | 240-404-7453 | http://www.broadsoft.com

Tyrone Thomas Jr.

March 27th, 2016

This is a good question and there are a lot of great answers. I am in the same shoes as Subir. Finding the right technology person is the key and I personally do not believe  a contract is going to stop the wrong person from using what they created once departed. If they were smart enough to develope it they are also smart enough to modify it by the legal 20% threshold to move forward without you.

LanVy Nguyen Founder & Managing Director at Fashion4Freedom

March 28th, 2016

 As an HR professional for a very large company, you should already know the importance of attracting a great team.   This is certainly true in your case  where your own lack of technical skills renders you limited in your ability to launch.  

Asking a question to which the answer is all tooooooo obvious seems to me that you need a lot more than just a person/partner with technical skills to help you launch. You actually need a good analyst/strategist to help you assess whether your ideas are good, have good logic or is even doable for implementation.  

The reason why I am suggesting this is because your question betrays a lack of logic or a laziness to self-help the small stuff.   For founders, these 2 traits are god-awful deadly sins  which eventually makes it IMPOSSIBLE to attract great people with good skills.   As a founder, your job is to lead and no one will want to follow if they think the leader is lazy or diminished in some capacity (whether in technical or logical skills).


Eric Miller Chief Executive Officer at Avi-on Labs

March 27th, 2016

In my experience, one of the hardest things in a startup is to know if your idea represents a legitimate and durable innovation in the market you are choosing. My general advice is that if you, or someone on your team are not one of the top 10 world experts in your startup area, you have a much reduced chance of knowing your idea is actually a good and feasible one. So, being a non tech person chasing a tech idea puts you at a disadvantage, at least for knowing if you are on the right track technically.

Before jumping in with both feet ask yourself how can you or your team credibly be one of the 10 world experts in your idea out of the box. You could intensively study yourself, or find a co founder who is already. It is not something you can just "hire in." It needs to be part of the genetics.

There is lots of room for non-tech skillsets in a tech company, that is not a problem, even an advantage in some things (like marketing and finance), just make sure you or someone you really trust is a no kidding expert in your specific area.