More often than not, an aspiring entrepreneur without any technical background will find it much harder to build a tech startup. Although it is getting easier to pick up programming skills with platforms such as Codementor, and others in the likes, learning enough technical skills to be proficient enough for your tech startup will still take a long time.
So what can a non-technical founder do?
As it turns out, there are plenty of things a non-technical founder can do to kick start a tech startup. Here are some suggestions:
What is the biggest pain point that your startup is solving, and how do you communicate that to your target audience?
That may be the most important question a founder must answer. Fortunately, you can find the answer without having any technical skills. There are a couple of ways you can find out what message and value proposition resonates best with your target audience.
1. Facebook Ads or Google Adwords
Test value propositions by creating a different ad for each proposition. Run these ads on Facebook or Google Adwords (or even both, if your budget allows it) and track which value proposition gets the most clicked. This will determine the proposition that best resonates with your target audience.
If you’re not sure who exactly is your target audience, which isn’t an uncommon problem when you first start out, you can also test that with ads. Just target different value propositions with a different set of audience and track which audience/value-proposition set gave you the best returns.
2. Landing Pages
If an ad (usually limited to 70 - 90 characters) cannot fully encapsulate the value you are creating, test it with landing pages instead. There are plenty of tools out there to help you create landing pages without needing you to know how to code. Here are some of them:
Nothing validates your idea better than people putting their money on it. You can do that on your landing page, or you can leverage on existing platforms for that.
If you’re interested in starting a hardware company, you can test it out by running crowdfunding campaigns on sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
If you’re interested in starting a software company, you can test it out on Fiverr. Fiverr is a marketplace where you can find people to do tasks (or called ‘gigs’ on the site) online for $5. Since an algorithm is just automated human intelligence, you can start testing your idea by providing a service manually.
Here are some examples of different kinds of software businesses, and how it can be converted into gigs on Fiverr.
Moz (Saas) – “I will analyze your website and give you ideas on how to improve your site’s SEO.”
Groupon (E-commerce) – “I will bring you hundreds of new customers to your offline store.”
As the visionary of your product, you can start designing how your product should look like. The most basic way of creating a prototype is to draw it on paper. Otherwise, there are free or cheap tools that can help you create a clickable prototype:
Once you have a prototype or mock-up of your product, talk to your users to find out what they want and what they like and don’t like about your product. The best way to do that is to meet your users and watch them ‘use’ your prototype, but that may not always be possible.
Another alternative is to install a live chat tool, such as Olark or Zopim (both have free plans), if you have a landing page or existing website. Otherwise, you can create short usability tests on UsabilityHub.
At the end of the day, you need a technical person (whether as a co-founder or a founding member) in a tech startup. And the best way to attract a smart technical person to join you is to demonstrate that your business has value, and you are the best person to run this. The three tips above should help you get started on it. Good luck!