Not every tech startup founder is a developer. And they don’t necessarily have to be. As an entrepreneur, you’d be doing much more than writing code. You have to deal with product validation, product/market fit, marketing, retention and engagement of customers, customer service, managing finances and accounting, etc.

The list is endless.

In fact, even developer founders do almost no coding once their apps start getting traction. So if you’re one that doesn’t know how to code and yet would like to build a mobile app startup based on an idea, you do have options. In fact, I wrote an entire eBook on it.

Here, I may add though, that looking for a technical co-founder to partner up with is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the thud sound.

All the good developers are already taken–in high-paying jobs or are probably working on their own ideas.

So here’s what you CAN do if you have a mobile app idea but don’t know how to code.

You Could Learn To Code

If the US President Obama can do it, so can you. It’s really not that hard and you can get started with an online course from Codecademcy or some such website based on the technology you’re keen on.

All you need is enough skills to drum up the first version of your mobile app. One that is a minimum viable product or MVP that offers the core value to your customers. Once you have your product validated, the world opens up to endless possibilities.

These could include securing funding (Angel Round), hiring your own first developer from the initial revenues or it also becomes easier to convince someone to join your team with a greater equity and lesser upfront money.

All this, when you can prove there is a market demand for the product you’re building, through actual traction.

You Could Hire An External Team

If you really don’t want to learn how to code and would rather focus on getting the business off the ground, look for a team or a development partner that has experience in working with first-time non-technical entrepreneurs.

For example, at Arkenea LLC, over 70% of our customers are first-time non-technical founders and some of them went on to raise funding, win awards and get over 3 million in downloads for their apps.

Please note my exact words above, ‘partner’. This is different from outsourcing. A lot of first-time founders look for cheap $12/hour kind of outsourced developers to get their first app developed. Now, if you’re going to throw peanuts, you’ll only attract monkeys.

Here’s a bit more articulate quote on the same:

The problem with outsourcers is that to get a good job done, the level of detail you need in the spec often seems so high that you’re basically writing pseudocode. You can’t just give somebody a feature and say ‘make it awesome’. At that level of detail, you might as well write the code yourself.

– John Collison, Co-founder, Stripe

So here’s what you should do:

  1. Save up enough to provide for the first version of your mobile app.
  2. A faster way could be to raise funds from friends and family or use your credit card.
  3. Make the first version of your app only about that feature that offers the core value of your product–the must have. Leave out the nice-to-have.
  4. Invest in the first version and get traction. Generate revenues from day one or secure an Angel Round based on proven traction.

You Could Use An App Builder

Just like many other industries, this particular industry too has its fair share of DIY tools, such as BuildFire and Como, to build your own apps without knowing how to write a single line of code.

If you’re an existing business that requires an app to extend your web presence to that of mobile, these tools can certainly help you. But, if you’re looking at building a customized app, these tools may not work for you.

There really isn’t a fourth way to build your company if you haven’t got skills to code.

Building an app is a team effort that requires a depth of understanding and analytical skills to create functional specifications documents, create highly functional and stunning UX/UI, coding with international coding standards so that any developer can pick up from where the last one left off and a QA professional to make sure your app is devoid of any bugs.

Can you get that for $12/hour freelance developer? Probably not.

Don’t settle for a mediocre team. It could define whether your mobile app will be successful or not.