From Snapchat to Kissmetrics, the tech world is not lacking innovative, successful ideas that sprung from the minds of non-technical people. A great idea that solves a real-world problem is worth its weight in gold, but time and time again innovators fall victim to two common scenarios: not launching out of fear, or launching and failing due to improper use of funds and bad business planning.
Tech companies have fewer barriers to entry than ever before, and the smart ones are adept at incorporating the more technical components along the way, not feeling the pressure to start in development and work backwards. In fact, in a world where technical expertise seems to reign king, it's really your ability to rapidly prototype, validate and gain early advocates that will prove to be your ace in the hole.
At some point, you're going to have to infuse some tech know-how into your idea. But don't let your personal limited technical expertise stop you from building your dream and solving that big, audacious problem that has yet to be solved. Here are a few ways to take the pressure off of yourself so you can turn your idea into a business without getting too technical:
Think lean to win the product game
Yes, prototyping, designing and creating are all key components to lean startup methodology. But that doesn't mean you ever have to enter a single line of code in the early stages. Sketches, crude wireframes and a killer, short 'n sweet value proposition are all you need to arm yourself with before talking to potential customers (and potential developers down the line).
You're actually at a bit of an advantage by not being the most tech-savvy entrepreneur on the innovation block. Companies that fail to properly prove that their concept solves a real need and instead opt to build a fully loaded product with all the bells-and-whistles, end up wasting valuable time and money. A basic understanding of user experience and design, coupled with a pitch-perfect idea of user problems and their needs, is a recipe for long-lasting success.
What you'll learn from committing to a lean strategy before launch will pay dividends when you ultimately bring developers on board. With your concept validated and your initial adjustments made, you'll have a more clear picture of who you need to round out your development team. And that's key, because now it's time to get the tech ball rolling.
Building and aligning the team
Finding a quality, loyal developer to help build out your dream at times can feel like you're waiting for a developer knight to ride in on a unicorn. Where do they hide out?
Well, they could be absolutely anywhere. Conducting interviews, visiting classrooms full of eager computer science students and posting your idea in the wilds of AngelList or LinkedIn can be daunting, but good thing for you you're armed with an unshakable vision for your company. Now you can narrow the list of potential partners by shared understanding, not simply by skill.
Of course, given where you are in the launch cycle, it's highly unlikely you'll be able to make a tech partner rich right out of the gate. Since you're probably offering equity to your initial batch of coders, "shared understanding" takes on a whole new meaning.
Another strategy is to find a technical founder that has the same value set as you. It's imperative to vet a potential co-founder's risk profile in addition to making sure they're a solid personality fit. The more certain you are of your company's vision, the better you'll be able to read the candidate sitting across from you, and the more excited you'll both be to put your shared vision into action.
When any old dev shop simply won't do
The rubber is starting to meet the road. You've gained a better understanding of what your users want and need out of your product based on those prototypes you crudely put together in the initial stages - pre-chief technical officer. And now with committed team in place, including at least one technical savant, you can go back out into the world of your end users with a new-and-improved module to test.
The next time a world-changing idea strikes you, don't let the panic of not knowing code keep you from conducting business as usual. If you test, pay attention to what people really want, and make the proper adjustments, getting to market successfully is a matter of identifying and plugging in the right people to help you realize your vision.