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How to build a tech startup as a non-technical founder

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Everybody knows that software is eating the world.

But have you ever been frustrated by what software developers say to you?

Have you ever thought to yourself, ‘I don’t know what they are talking about, but I’ll just nod as if I do!’?

Have you ever been asked a technical question about your idea/business, and then not known how to answer it?

Have you been frustrated by having an idea, but then having no clue how it could be implemented technically, and how to even begin?

If you are a non technical person who is looking to build a tech startup and you have no clue where to start or what to do, here are the 13 key things you must know about technology as a non-tech entrepreneur.

1.  Most Tech is NOT Hard

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If you have ever had a conversation with a tech guy concerning what they do, chances are your eyes end up looking glazed at the end of the discussion. Tech guys love to tell you that what they do is really hard and they might be right.

Some technology definitely is hard, think about algorithmic trading, or airline flight controls . However, Most technology is actually not that hard, especially when all you want to do is to create an application that enables your users to buy a product online.

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2. Make sure you have an MVP

minimum viable product

You’ve got to focus on the Minimal Viable Product.

You need to ask and answer the question what is the MINIMUM your application needs to do in order to be successful? Focus on finding the answer for this question and forget the rest for now.

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If you do not have an MVP, you will constantly be distracted by good ideas and good ideas are always available.

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3. Get a CTO

CTO

You need a chief technology officer.

That means having someone who understands both the business and the technology in your core team. Without a CTO, you will struggle with business and technology.

No smart investor will take your company serious if you are building a tech product without someone in your team who understands both the business and the tech behind it.

By the way, your CTO is NOT just someone who can code!!!

Your CTO should know about software architecture and project management.

4. Consider all options

software programming

In technology there is always more than one perfectly reasonable technical solution.

Make sure you consider the options, and don’t get bullied into one solution. Some developers for example only really know one technology so they try and use it to solve every problem. Avoid boxing your product into a tech solution that may not scale as you grow.

5. Get Great Developers

It is easy to get average developers to knock up something cheap for you. But you’ll pay heavy price in the long run. Great developers are not cheap but they do a great job.

Average developers may be very switched on but cannot get things done. Average developers may get things done, but are not switched on and therefore make a mess of it.

GREAT developers are very switched on and get things done on the required on time at high quality level.

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6. Programming Takes a while

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Writing good code takes longer than you think.

It is easy to make something work quickly, but is it Tested? Reliable? Easy to make changes to? Fast enough? Scalable enough to handle more users? Intelligible to anyone else who has to work on it? These are questions you need to ask and be patient enough to get suitable answers to.

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7. Keep it simple

This might sound cliche, but it is a golden rule that has always worked.

Some programmers love complicated stuff. This can be a pain if the problem is not complicated! Make sure you keep it simple.

<fact> Less code = less to go wrong, less to test, less to maintain, and less to worry about </fact>

8. Consider Technical Debt

technical debt

There is a concept called ‘technical debt’, It works like financial debt, if you borrow money you pay it back with interest.

In programming, if you throw something together very quickly, it will work, but when you need to make changes, it will be harder and will cost you more in the longer term – ‘technical debt’.

9. Mobile Rules

Think mobile first with most applications, especially in Africa.

Mobile is more important than desktop for many applications.

Also, if you think mobile, it forces you to focus on the MVP, since you can’t fit much on the screen!

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10. UX is Vital

User Experience is of vital importance.

Be aware developers who don’t care about it much UX.

If you don’t, you will have seen applications that are not intuitive and have strange error messages. Without good user experience your application will most likely not be used.

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11. Consider Non-Functional issues

security

People often just think about functionally what an application should do. It goes beyond that.

You need to pay attention to other other really important issues like, security, reliability, scalability and regulatory requirements.

12. Leverage the cloud

cloud computing

Cloud computing is ideal for startups and SMEs as it means you don’t need to buy any kit to host your applications, instead you just pay per hour for someone else to run it.

Many startups are in the cloud running on Amazon, Azure, Google Cloud.

13. Test, test and test

Don’t forget to test your stuff. Don’t be one of those companies that test their application on the customers themselves.

Testing is vital and it can be the difference between success and failure.

I know some of these things can seem intimidating especially considering the amount of money you might be required to spend. If you are convinced technology is important for your business but you can’t afford to hire the professional developers. You can take our short course.

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