How to master being business founder in a tech startup

To have ideas is awesome. Throughout this year, I met so many brilliant people that have amazing ideas. But only ideas won’t work. It needs execution. And I’d love to talk more about that. Specifically technical execution and progress.
As I’m freelancing next to my startups, the other week I had several conversations with various companies and clients. And had very interesting conversations which led to this particular topic. Business founders in tech startup. How to become best in it?

TL;DR

  1. You don’t understand technology;
  2. You can’t argue much about timelines;
  3. You think outsourcing is the key;
  4. You don’t know what’s a good developer and why to make good friends with them.

1–2. Start looking into particular technology/language yourself, trust your developers if they are in house or hire external skilled technical person for code reviews once a week.

3. Try outsourcing only for short term MVP and understand if the company will be a good fit for you. Also bear in mind that it’s much harder to raise capital if you outsource your tech. and your speed of execution will drop significantly.

4. If you are master in business, find good developers. Make friends with them. Your ideas won’t be winning most of the time, but with talented tech. people around you, you will be able to move extremely quickly and test more in much less time. And create more startups if current one will fail. And eventually get there 🦄

Below is Longer version of it 🤓

Why being business founder is awesome in tech startup?

1. I think one of the most important part is that people will easily buy into the idea. Usually (always?) you guys, from business background, know how to express your ideas in extremely well manner with incredible depth and feeling that it seems that product which you are building will be the next big thing! And every startup needs this kind of person.
2. You have incredible network. And it will definitely helps the startup you are be part of. As hard as it is to admit, in the early stage, big majority of success factor is connections and network you have. It will be much easier to get right people in and potentially raise capital, once you are well connected.
3. Tech startups are easy to scale. Scalability = love.

..and list could go on and on and on! Being that person in the startup who has passion for business part is really great. Let’s move on further.

Why being business founder sucks in tech startup?

1. If it’s your first tech startup — you will shortly understand that deadlines everyone say to you eventually gets 2–3x longer. And it’s very normal.
2. You probably don’t understand complexity of tasks therefore cannot argue much of timeline. Sometimes simplest your ideas will take weeks or months to implement. Especially if the startup is on the later stage.
3. You think that hiring outsourced developers will get you well done product. It’s definitely possible to find kick-ass agencies, that will deliver really well done software. However, I’d say 90%+ is not the case. And you will end up spending lots of money, your nerves and time dealing with them.
4. You might not understand what is a good developer. And why you should make friends with them.

These are some of the top that came into my head. It’s very natural to struggle with these issues. And I will tell you cure to all of them!

How to master tech startup as a business domain person

Let’s start with number one and two since they are related.
1. If it’s your first tech startup — you will shortly understand that deadlines everyone say to you eventually gets 2–3 longer. And it’s very normal.
2. You probably don’t understand complexity of tasks therefore cannot argue much of timeline. Sometimes simplest your ideas will take weeks or months to implement. Especially if it’s on the later stage.

There are couple of options how to overcome it. You need to be able to challenge developers.

First of all, you can start looking into particular technology/language yourself. By doing that, you can get basic understanding of the technology/language. High-level understanding is enough to be able to keep asking questions. As every question will let developer think harder/deeper into the issue. It can also lead to several other paths which can take even less time to implement.

If you don’t want to get into tech even on the high level — that’s fine. If it’s your startup and you’ve devs in your team in-house — there is a simple characteristic as trust. I think trust is given. And everyone can be trustful. It’s only to them to lose it. Especially if you are in the startup game and these guys/gals are your core/founding team members — you have to trust them. Even without challenging you have to trust their judgment because they should know their shit. If they are not that senior — they will learn. Each failure in time estimates try to learn together, what can be improved.

If you are outsourcing your tech, there is another option. Hire someone for code review. Hire someone very senior. Let them look the code what outsource devs do. Person next to you will be able to evaluate, they are doing well or not. And should you find someone else or stick it. Code reviews doesn’t need to be daily, once a week is okay. As long as you keep your tech in check. I’d advice give to such guy shares as it might be bigger incentive from their side to make sure everything is going well.

3. You think that hiring outsourced developers will get you well done product. It’s definitely possible to find kick-ass agencies, that will deliver really well done software. However, I’d say 90%+ is not the case. And you will end up spending lots of money, your nerves and time dealing with them.

I constantly keep hearing that founders outsource their tech and then get disappointed of the outcome. There are couple of red flags here.

First of all, it will be quite hard to raise any money if you don’t have in-house dev. Because even you are successfully launched your product, you are not sure if this outsourced agency/people will keep working for you. How long they will. And so on. And we do take into consideration, that job is well done.
I’m very bullish on outsource especially for startups. The speed of execution dramatically decreases if you are not in-house. Which is a big factor, especially in early stage.
There is definitely a balance and I agree that outsourcing might be much less costly. I’d say that it might be a good idea for outsource if it’s short term — need to find if there is some product market fit, roll something out and test the waters. I was talking in my last article about MVP, which could be a potential for outsource. But very short time. Ideally couple of months. And within that period you could definitely understand if agency/people are worth working with.

4. You might not understand what is a good developer. And why you should make friends with them.
Don’t judge people quickly. Give them time. I’ve seen some cases that senior devs gets some timing wrong and they are losing trust from management. That’s not good. That’s where demotivation starts and with time it might grow into willingness to leave.
Good developers are hard to find. Especially nowadays where many people can code something. Quality matters and it will never change. Find good developers, encourage them and with them you will build whatever you want. If not current startup then another!

And hopefully, you can build that 🦄 you’ve been dreaming about!

And that’s it folks. Startups are awesome, especially tech. Learning how to deal with tech part of it isn’t easy.

I wish my advices will help you to get better in working with your tech team, improve your communication levels, atmosphere in it and speed of execution!

I build kick-ass mobile apps @ https://isawthatguy.com || Product Virtuoso and Startup Freak

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