What are some of the options for non-technical founders to develop their technical product?

Billy Leung
26 replies
Just curious how do non-technical founders find the resources to design/build your product? How long does it take and how much does it cost? Trying to solve this problem with my platform. Do you think this is a big enough pain point? Thanks!

Replies

Founder & CEO, Hustle Crew
@bleung2bleung there are so many no code options on the market these days - do you have a particular product in mind? I have loved using SquareSpace and all the integrations that come with it. Carrd is useful, too. You don't need to be a coder to integrate Stripe into these and start payments because their documentation is so simple.
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Something Awesome Coming Soon
@bleung2bleung I outsourced my app. But that ultimately failed. 6k down the tank. And then I found 2 technical co-founders.
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Founder of Launch Combinator
@mitchgillogly And how's the 2 tech co-founders approach working out? Don't you eventually still need to hire a full team of Product/Design/Engineering? Is cost and speed to market a concern once you are at that phase?
Something Awesome Coming Soon
@bleung2bleung There's no comparison. Having 2 technical co-founders is much better than outsourcing. You have people who are more invested in the product and you're not draining your bank account to put out an MVP. I'd stick with as small a team as you can for as long as possible. Our 3 person team can build the product, and do all the sales and reaching out to customers.
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@bleung2bleung @mitchgillogly Where did you find ur technical co-founders?
Something Awesome Coming Soon
@bleung2bleung @del_rent Met my first one at a startup networking event I'd go to once a month. Got his LinkedIn info and sent him my pitch deck and that got things rolling. Met my second one by sending invite requests on LinkedIn to software engineers in my area and then spamming them all with my pitch deck. I probably wouldn't encourage that. And maybe I got lucky but the three of us work really well together and hangout outside of working.
Maker and Growth Marketer
@bleung2bleung I would love to hear what people have to say about this. I am non-technical myself, and work with technical cofounders, but have been extremely interested in seeing the no-code options that have been popping up. I'd love to hear people's thoughts of teaming up with a technical cofounder versus working around this another way!
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@bleung2bleung @peyton I shared my POV. You can see.
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Founder of Launch Combinator
@peyton I think if you are lucky enough to find a full-stack tech co-founder, that will be the most cost-effective approach. How is that working out for you? Eventually don't you still need a full team of Product/Design/Engineering though? That's what my company is set to solve (at least that's the hypothesis :) )
Maker and Growth Marketer
@bleung2bleung I have been lucky enough to work with co-founders who are able to either build small teams, or contract with other developers they know to help meet deliverables if there is a time crunch. It's worked well for me, but not everyone is lucky enough to get cofounders who can cover all technical needs. Best of luck with your company! I am sure that there are many founders who would love to work with you and could use the help.
@bleung2bleung I am a non technical founder working together with 2 other technical co-founders since last 5 years. In my opinion, you must look for techy founders for a long term scalable solution/product you're thinking to build else you can use no code options these days to build MVP and get some traction also helping you onboard some brilliant tech founders afterwards. Another way is to hire app dev. agencies and get your product in market. Once it get's traction you can build your tech team. There is nothing write or wrong in any of these options, these all depends upon situations and conditions. Yes, you must be wise to take decisions because some may backfire if not chosen correctly as per the situation.
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Founder of Launch Combinator
@pratik_gupta3 I guess the challenge is not everyone can easily find (good/great) technical co-founders. How is it working out for you? And eventually don't you still need a full team of Product/Design/Engineering though?
Communication cat
@bleung2bleung Apponboard, bubble.io, buildfire, and hack alot more on makerpad.co and nocode.tech. Happy making :)
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@bleung2bleung are you saying that your platform is trying to solve the issue of non tech entrepreneurs wanting to make things?
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Founder of Launch Combinator
@omdesign1 Yes that's our hypothesis: 1) It's difficult to find (great) technical co-founders, 2) Even if you have a great tech co-founders, you still need great Product Manager and Design folks, 3) And even if you have #1 and #2, eventually you still need a full team to launch your product beyond the MVP. My company (launchcombinator.com) basically offers this on-demand. What do you think of my hypothesis? Appreciate your feedback.
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@omdesign1 @bleung2bleung how is your product different from co-founders meet and other Apps?
Founder of Launch Combinator
@del_rent FYI the use case of my company is not to help you find a tech co-founder, but get a full cross-functional team to help you execute and scale. The challenge there is for young companies, you want to move fast but you are probably not ready to bring on a full team yet (or it's very time consuming to hire PM #1 and engineering #2-5). Not only do we provide a full team, but our team are all successful SV veterans so you get the value without paying the full price.
Designer, Developer, Maker
@bleung2bleung *You have three options* 1. Using an app builder This works when you have a rudimentary product concept and you'd like to test out your hypothesis with a real functioning app. There are many app builders these days like @nemanja_milic mentioned. However, I'm yet to discover a builder that allows you to launch a product with a good design that's serious enough to tackle the real-world market. Often times these also come with a deep learning curve. 2. Hire a technical co-founder You can hire a serious tech co-founder. This is often economical as you'd be hiring someone who wants skin in the game. He/She would work for Equity and is willing to give all it takes to see through your collective vision. However, the thing is, it's quite rare to find a person like this. Even if you do find one, and you are serious about building a business, you'd need to find more similar people with expertise in Design, Marketing, and Sales. This is a good way if your idea is validated — ideally, it can make money, or attract investment. 3. Hire a Product Agency There are significant advantages to hiring a serious product agency but the crucial thing is to know which one's a good agency. Good agencies are the ones who don't just take your orders, they act as an extension of your team — offering cross-domain expertise. They're the ones who can sit with you and brainstorm your business model, product design and dev, and marketing strategies. They are serious about what they do and want to build software that matters in the real world. The typical complaint that outsourcing is a waste of money and you'd have to do it all over again, is caused primarily due to penny squeezing. Early-stage entrepreneurs often tend to think that it's wise to hire the most economical team. Cheap agencies work with spec-sheets, they don't provide any conscious thought about the things they build. They rarely understand business models and vision; just take orders to send you an invoice. To conclude, You pick the right option according to your need. Everything has pro and cons. - If Idea is early and you have no money, go with an app builder. - If Idea is early and you have some money, go with a product agency. But be careful to find the right one. In the west, such agencies charge around $50K, if you find a remote-agency, this can cost around $20-25K. - If Idea is proven and you have access to a lot of money, involve real people and build a team. :Shameless_Plug: Hope this helps, happy to chat further if you think about finding a good agency, I run a remote-first full-stack product agency.
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Founder of Launch Combinator
@nemanja_milic @praneethpike Yes that's our hypothesis too. #1 is probably not good enough for today's app standard. #2 It's difficult to find (great) technical co-founders, and even if you have a great tech co-founders, you still need great Product Manager and Design folks #3 is doable if you are clear what you want to build - I have seen founders waste tons of money because they don't know what to build and the agency was only good at taking orders :) My company (launchcombinator.com) is different from #3 in that we are more of a plug-and-play team set up. What do you think of my hypothesis? Appreciate your feedback.
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Founder at Trackabi.com
@bleung2bleung I would say it is very difficult and very risky to develop a project that way. You may hire a team that looks good, say the right things, and what they develop even works. However at some point you may find your product down because there are now already several concurrent users online and nobody took time to optimize database queries; or it may be hacked the next day after launching because nobody cared about any security issues. This list of potential issues is really endless. And at the point when you get into trouble and find another team to help you may find out that your code is a mess and hopeless. Or the new team will tell you so but may be it won't be true... In other words you'll get a black box you cannot control after paying a fortune, unless somebody who is really good follows everything from the technical side. And the last but not least, if you are looking for investors at some point, one of the first questions they will ask is whether you have a CTO co-founder. If you don't, most likely they will say "no".
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Founder of Launch Combinator
@andrey_m2 These are very valid points. Regarding code maintenance, I think this is the reason why you want to find someone (whether it's co-founder, first eng hire, or agency) who write codes the "right way". This is one of the hypothesis that my company (launchcombinator.com) has, which is you don't just need someone to code it, you need a great team to build it the right way from you starting with Product, UX, engineering, and infrastructure. Curious about your thoughts in our hypothesis :) Regarding raising money without a tech co-founder, I think there are some merits in that although the number one thing that an investor wants to see is traction. So if you have a compelling product and user traction, it's going to be a lot easier raising your seed/A round and then recruit a Head of Eng after that (Source: Worked with companies who did the same in the past)
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Founder at Trackabi.com
@bleung2bleung Thanks for your comments! Regarding the first point, the tricky thing is being able to understand whether a team is great of not. For example, some are misled by good talkers, not doers. It's very difficult to be sure that even a company with a good record has done its best to assign the rights developers and project managers to your project. I have many years or experience in outsourcing services and developing an own product. There are so many technical details that may be revealed only when it's too late if nobody thought about them before. As for the second point, you're right. Of course it's important to have a good product that attracts people. That's crucial for potential investors. But still when you hire a CTO at some point when you get money he may come and say OMG... :D That happens too unfortunately. The problem is that early stage startups don't have that much money and they are looking for ways to make their MVPs quickly and at low cost. That may have consequences obviously.
Thinks and reports Internet Security
@bleung2bleung I don't think that you will need an option to build technical knowledge if you lack some, P.s that is your will if you want to learn for personal growth. However getting things outsourced and getting them done with your direction and vision will also produce a good product!
Founder, Casa (Manage Discord)
@bleung2bleung I am a technical founder and have worked with outsourcing teams before. I had a terrible experience with outsourcing every single time. As for no-code products, it really depends on what you want to build. If your product is one where tech is just an enabler, you can be totally fine using all the no-code products out there. You can start getting basic users and revenue with a landing page and some basic follow on pages, and then get a developer later on if required. However, if you want tech to play a very big role in your product, you should think long term and try to find a tech cofounder or early employees. If you want to invest time, it's not a bad idea to learn some code yourself too. It's really not hard to learn basic coding to be able to put up a few functional beautiful looking pages together. Cheers!
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Founder of Launch Combinator
@dhruv_bhatia Thanks and points well-taken. Curious, can you please elaborate why didn't your outsourcing experience work out? Was it because of quality, co-location (lack of), timezone differences, etc.?
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Founder, Casa (Manage Discord)
@bleung2bleung Sure, it was always because of the quality, which imho is a function of ability and passion. You're quite lucky if the ability exists and the passion lacks, however, in almost all the cases, the ability and passion both lack quite a bit due to which you get a really bad end result.