November 25, 2019

How to Build a Startup Without a Technical Founder

How to Build a Startup Without a Technical Founder

Plenty of people without technical backgrounds build successful startups. For example, Jack Ma studied English and founded Alibaba, and Andrew Mason pursued music and ended up launching Groupon. There are many other examples of people without computer science or engineering degrees who have made a mint through their entrepreneurial efforts. You can too, you just need to remember that building a business is all about ideas and – if you don’t have the skill sets yourself – finding the right team of individuals to help you meet your objective. 

“How do you start a tech startup without the tech skill set? Inspiration,” says Travis Biziork, CEO of “You’re the ideas man; the guy with all the answers because you can’t sleep most nights due to your constantly racing mind on how to solve the next puzzle piece in your elaborate plan.”

Do You Need a CTO?

In the early stages of a startup, it’s more important to have a group of founders who are passionate about the idea and willing to do whatever it takes to get the idea off the ground. Every startup needs a visionary, customer champion, innovation architect, and rainmaker, according to entrepreneur Salim Ismail.  Sure, you could consider hiring a CTO to join as a co-founder but chances are he’s not going to be as invested in the business and turn out to be expensive. Moreover, it could be difficult as a non-tech founder to properly determine the skill sets of a tech co-founder or CTO. Instead, consider outsourcing your development work to contractors or freelances – that will give you the budget and time you need to hire and add to your team gradually, as your product evolves. 

Once you’ve got your idea in mind one of the first things you should do is develop a minimum viable product (MVP), a basic demonstration that shows your idea and idea’s potential and can be used to get input from other experienced developers and possible investors. Visuals and a good PowerPoint presentation can do the job. Or, if you’re developing an app, there are new platforms that enable you to do so without any coding expertise. The gist is to get the idea out there – whether in person or online – and garner feedback from prospective customers and collaborators. 

Project Management for Startups

At this point, it’s more important to concentrate on learning how to manage projects and how to communicate with developers. A low-level, basic understanding of your technology will help you set deadlines accurately and help you better understand what is possible and what is not from a technical perspective. If you don’t feel up to the job, consider hiring a project manager with tech experience. 

If things go well, gradually hire based on need and continue to develop your product. Present your idea at entrepreneurial and investor events and carefully consider your funding options to take your business to the next level.