Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, Reid Hoffman, and Ben Silbermann are just a few names on the list of non-tech founders who founded big tech companies. After all, the tech industry isn’t exclusive to only technical geniuses. And in this blog, we’ll explore some important questions that you should ask yourself and your team if you are a non-tech founder looking to succeed in the tech world.
Who is a Non-Tech Founder?
A non-tech founder is a person who has no formal training or education related to the development of a product or service. For you to be a non-tech founder, you can be an entrepreneur who has an idea but just doesn’t have the means to produce it.
The route many take when faced with this challenge, is to partner with a Chief Technical Officer (CTO). And then go on to build a tech team. And if you are someone who is non-tech but works with a CTO and a tech team, this write-up is meant for you.
Let’s move to the key questions, then!
Let’s be clear, if you are a non-tech founder, it will be challenging to validate if good code is being written. However, there are some key questions you can ask yourself and your team. These questions will raise some red flags or help show you follow industry standards and processes.
1. Have I done enough research?
Having an idea is one thing. Developing a product or service based on it is a different ball game altogether. And what is more important is knowing whether or not there are actual people who would pay actual money to access the product/service. That can make or break a start-up on its own—having a market as opposed to not having enough people pay for the product/service.
As a non-tech founder, you’d need to start by researching what you want to hire a tech team to develop. As if there is a problem that needs solving, how your product/service will solve it, and if there is a product-market fit.
In the tech world, this means having a Proof of Concept (POC) to begin with and, once development has started, having a prototype or an that you can take to your users for validation.
2. Does my team say “YES’ to every request?
Ask yourself whether or not Yes-Men surround you. If you are and the team’s answer to every request you make is a ‘Yes,’ then, my friend, you might be headed toward a not-so-great future.
The tendency to side with the boss and become steadfast cheerleaders is not an uncommon phenomenon in the workspace. But if you are working with such a team of Yes-Men who are either unable or unwilling to challenge your beliefs, then there won’t be spaces to improve and grow as a team.
As a non-tech founder, you don’t want to be trapped in an echo chamber. Having said that, don’t play a devil’s advocate just for the sake of it. Challenging beliefs is how creativity takes center stage and technology advances. Better outcomes result from being able to question certain things and processes.
A good tech team will assess each feature, provide you with the viability of delivery and even question the value of the feature itself. They will explore options and even propose a variety of ways to deliver the outcome that you are after. And this is precisely what you need.
3. Does my team miss deadlines without any real explanation?
A lot many tech projects fail because of issues with deadlines. You might have assumed that your technology might be built within a year, and here you are two years later—nowhere near completion.
Going wrong with time estimates is a relatively common problem. Technology is complex, and things can sometimes go haywire. If you are building custom software, every once in a while, your team will encounter a problem that wasn’t factored in planning. If you have a team that misses many deadlines and that too without any real explanation—you are headed down a dark path, my friend.
This is more about being able to manage the situation than it not arising at all in the first place. Project estimates change for several reasons—scope creep, for instance. How you and your tech team handle these is where the concern lies. So long as you have a clear end in sight and can have a reasonable explanation and the next due date, you are in the safe zone.
This is where using the Agile Methodology can help a non-tech founder. It offers systems that call for working with the team and devolving responsibilities away from a single point of control and towards group consensus for time estimates.
4. Do I understand how resources are allocated?
Ensure that all the human and technological resources needed for a project are in place. Sounds simple, right? Resources are varied—everything from people in the team to the equipment they would use to where and when they are working. There’s a lot to allocate.
Over the years, we have had clients who have come to us with projects 12 months past delivery. The client would say something like, I hired ten developers, and yet the last team failed to deliver. If only developers were the only resources the clients needed to complete the project!
In reality, there’s a Project Manager, four The term backend refers to code on a server or serverless functions that run in the background. A user does... developers (1 senior and three juniors), two When talking about software, generally, the term frontend refers to any interface that allows a user to interact with a... developers (1 senior and one junior), and a Quality Assurance is the process of reviewing a piece of work to ensure that the quality and standards are met.... team of members that would be used at the time of testing. And then there are other technological resources.
Think holistically about resource management as a non-tech founder. Check your estimates against the actual process, know the resource dependencies, and be realistic with the allocation.
5. Does the team Speak Developer and leave me confused?
Being a non-tech can be difficult if you do not have a team to guide you through the process. The development team can forget that you are a non-tech founder and start speaking to you in what we call ‘Developer Speak’—easy for the technical people to understand, alien talk for the rest of us, especially if we are a non-tech founder.
A great team will hold your hand and make the time to explain the direction—the hows and the whys of the processes. From the start of product discovery and strategy to market analysis to UX/UI design to smoke and usability testing to everything else that the process entails—your tech co-founder and your tech team should be able to help you understand in layman’s terms. And if you don’t understand, always ask, and you will get the answer.
6. Is the process collaborative?
Whether or not the process is collaborative is critical for success. A collaborative team means there is buy-in from the members, and they care for the product you are looking to develop.
Working with a team that provides feedback, challenges your thinking, and brings ideas to the table (new ways to deliver your outcomes) would mean that you will find the development experience a rewarding one.
There is a need to be clear, concise, and direct. This will help manage expectations and, when need be, be the cheerleader for yourself and your team. If you want the users to be happy with the product/service, you must keep yourself sane and your team motivated.
And the only way of doing that is through a collaborative approach—that’s why, as a non-tech founder, you built a team instead of doing it all on your own.
7. Are all forms of documentation in order?
Consider documentation of any kind a tool in your toolkit when it comes to ensuring project delivery. It helps streamline the process and makes life easier for everyone involved—as various forms of documentation detail what needs to be done and how.
For tech teams, this could mean asking if the team can generate documentation from the code. Or if there is documentation outlining how the project works or the plan for it.
Taking an agile approach to documentation can hugely benefit tech teams and you as a non-tech founder. No person is a silo, and so the documentation should be a collaborative approach. Do it for each A software development sprint is typically used within the agile methodology and is a predefined set of work for a... and leave no room for interpretation. Ensure that every bit of documentation is: easy to navigate, categorized logically, and offers quick and easy access to the most relevant information.
8. How are releases maintained and managed?
Is your team running a CI/CD stands for Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment. CI/CD is the process of automating the deployment of your software through... & Deployment is the process of releasing your application or software out onto the specific environment where it will need to... Server? Is your team following a process for releases? Can any developer in your team publish to production from their computer? Is your team following a versioning process? What is it? How are your team members tracking bugs and iterating? These are some of the many questions that you need to find answers to when it comes to managing and maintaining releases.
The agile methodology principle calls for Release Early, Release Often.
At Aerion Technologies, our goal is to help non-techs deliver better tech. Over the years, we have worked with non-tech founders and partners to understand their development needs and deliver the product/service they sought. From our DevReady Process to POC to to Support and Maintenance, we work with you every step of the way.
And if you are a non-tech founder, you need to ask these questions
- Have I done enough research?
- Does my team say ‘YES’ to every request?
- Does my team miss deadlines without any real explanation?
- Do I understand how resources are allocated?
- Does the team Speak Developer and leave me confused?
- Is the process collaborative?
- Are all forms of documentation in order?
- How are releases maintained and managed?
And, because there are more than just these questions, let us work together to deliver that piece of technology that you want to be built. Who knows if you are the next Steve Jobs with the next Apple?
Get in touch for a FREE CONSULTATION today!