You do not need a perfect product and outsourcing or hiring equipped development team for an early stage, what is really important is creating a simple solution to a problem many people have.
The value of a product with the ability to earn revenue is significantly greater than technologies built for millions of dollars without paying customers and market potential.
Moreover, looking for and hiring a technical co-founder might hinder your early growth considerably — read more in the material.
There are a lot of motivating stories from non-technical founders. One of them: a man who was meant to become a doctor but instead created one of the most popular visual media platforms with more than 250 million active users. It is about the CEO and co-founder of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann. Here you can check their visualized success story.
A lot depends on the technological level of your product. If tech plays a key role in your product, you need either tech background from the very beginning or outsourcing/hiring for more serious technical help. But if tech is just an enabler, you can be totally fine using all the no-code products out there. It is followed by outsourcing development and maintenance to make the product work smoother and to achieve a better user experience.
We won’t tell you that it is an easy task and nobody needs a technical co-founder. But we can tell you how it is possible to do without one.
Research your audience
1. Think about possible customers and ask them about your solution. Maybe they even don’t have the problems you think they have. Also, you might get plenty of interesting ideas to add to your solution.
2. You can start with surveys and then move to one-on-one interviews. The survey may be spread among online communities, the form might include a box to leave contact for deeper face-to-face interviews.
Possible questions to ask:
- Do you have any challenges with the problem?
- What are the challenges?
- What do you need the result from our product for?
- What alternatives do you use to solve your problem?
- What features are you missing in them?
- Would you buy it?
- How much should it cost?
A useful practice is to discuss your idea with business people, colleges, friends and like-minded people from the market you want to enter. They will possibly provide you with inspiration and ideas. This is also a good chance to find investors, supporters, co-founders, and future clients.
You should not be afraid of sharing your thoughts about the project for fear of them being stolen from you, as ideas are nothing without realization.
Create a landing page
Do not treat it as an MVP, treat it as an explanatory business card. Your landing page can inform the purpose and benefits of your product, provide pricing information, suitable CTA: subscription, registration, payment, or other actions to collect contacts of potential customers.
Draw some traffic to it employing most relevant to your audience social media to analyze the interest of people. If you are planning a B2C product it might be Instagram or Twitter, if B2B — LinkedIn, ProdcutHunt.
The landing page will allow you to view the statistics on visitors, such as where they come from, how they behave, what stops them from clicking the CTA button.
To have a lot of people interested to try your product at once after release, use various forms of waiting lists. Some examples of the creative and incredibly successful waiting lists:
Robinhood.After you joined Robinhood’s waitlist, as usual, you started off at the end. But you were offered a deal — invite a friend to join the waitlist behind you, and you will move up in line a few spots. The more people users referred to, the faster they moved up. The result — 1M people on the list to try a new app.
Mint.Mint’s team created a «content network». They wrote blog posts, conducted interviews with well-known personal finance speakers, designed infographics, and generally created whatever kinds of content they thought would succeed with their target audience.
They optimized it for Google and spread it on Reddit. Every time someone hit a piece of Mint content, they saw a box where they could sign up to get on Mint’s waiting list. The result — 20,000+ people signed up to try the solution.
Employ no-code tools or learn code (it pays)
Don’t hurry with freelance developers or outsourcing your project development — you might just spend a lot of money on an unnecessary product. You might hear how people say that no-code options are not reliable? but whether you are planning to use them all the time? They are just a «scheme», «mock-up».
The no-code solution is perfect for the start if tech in your product is just an enabler.
The no-code building platforms enable a founder with no technical background to build an application simply by dragging and dropping around the elements of the app. You can employ Apponboard, Bubble, BuildFire, and find many others on Makerpad and NoCode.Tech. And here guys are teaching how to use no-code tools.
No-code app-building platforms provide complete control over your development process, leading to less effort invested in the product and the ability to quickly pivot and iterate.
Learning to code is a better way if the tech plays a very big role in your product. Because when you are to hire an in-house development team, you will somehow understand the process and manage the team.
Using let’s day Udemy, you can probably get a low-level programming job in 4 months. Based on that you can probably build an MVP in a month.
Many current successful non-technical founders learned to code specifically to start a startup. Among them: Dennis Crowley of Foursquare, Brian Chesky of Airbnb, Sean Rad of Tinder.
After the previous step, you probably have some part of the planned solution you can sell now. Otherwise, you can either create a presentation of the future project or an effective landing page to sell discount coupons or some privileges for early-bird clients.
How to pre-sell?
- Set the limited pre-sale period
- Provide a clear explanation of the value people will get from buying now
- A countdown timer can increase the sale of products that are about to expire.
- Get the word out on your idea by asking people from your email list and social media contacts. The people who are already familiar with your product will be eager to provide support and feedback. You can also create ad campaigns on Facebook to enlarge the audience.
- Pre-selling at least to 10-15 indicates that it is worth continuing, and not giving up halfway.
Search for technical help to make an MVP and/or final product
The differences among development solutions such as freelancer, in-house team, outsourcing you can discover here in the part «Distinguish from alternatives». Below are some points concerning new projects.
- be ready to manage the project, write requirements, investigate solutions, and control the work. Without a technical co-founder, it may become an issue to verify if the estimates are correct. If the selected technologies are appropriate. Or if some features need to be done or not
- determine the CORE functionality of your product. There will be a million interesting ideas you can brainstorm. Get rid of 99.9999999% of them. You don’t need them for your MVP.
- wireframe your idea — here are some tips on how to do it yourself without a designer
- hire a developer and do not expect a lot of critical and creative thinking from them
- understand how to work within development cycles, and map out a development path for your product. Integrate agile methods into your project to track its progress.
Read the material on how to successfully hire the best talent for your project on Upwork.
- the most suitable solution when tech is a core part of your product
- the best variant is to hire developers near your location. The benefits are on the surface — you will be able to discuss all requirements standing next to each other. Teams with such close ties to the process are closely involved in what happens.
- as with freelancers, you should be able to manage a team and handle necessary technologies if you haven’t a technical co-founder
- finding a specialist with the necessary skill set can take from 4 to 6 months and 3 months period to understand whether the person is actually good and suitable. The problems start mounting even more when you are limited to only geographical borders
- developers like joining teams with a tech guru/co-founder and other developers. So they can learn and it will improve their CV. As a young company, we couldn’t offer it to engineers.
Outsourcing or IT startup company as your co-founder
The spread opinion that offshore IT startup companies are not interested, difficult to communicate, and expensive. But what if they partly invest in you and will be motivated enough?
Digis offers help with business strategies, fundraising, also we can invest with our own money or by developing software. It is a great option when you suddenly face a lack of resources but need to continue operating. Besides this, Digis is a sister company of business accelerator RichelieuV.
- Start with research
- Spread your idea to get feedback and make it more wanted
- Make a «scheme» product
- Make people look forward to your new product
- Search for technical help to develop MVP or final product