You’re so unreal
Where’s my sandy beach yeah
I have my dreams like everybody else
But they’re out of reach
I said right out of reach
I try to ignore you
Your demands are unending yeah
I got no Ts on my skin,
But you know me: I love pretending.
– The Pretenders, “Mystery Achievement”
Entrepreneurs do one thing. They find a way.
As a non-developer, sole founder of a tech startup, I am often asked how I am going to overcome not having a technical co-founder. My answer: I just will.
How else would you expect an entrepreneur to answer?
I know a lot of startups that have non-developers as the only founders. They do what I’ve been doing, outsource their software development, usually to offshore talent. And, yeah, it never goes as well as it does for startups who have a developer on the founding team. That’s putting it mildly.
There is an epidemic out there. There are no developers who want to work for free on somebody else’s idea. In this startup tsunami, everyone has their own idea that they want to work on. Why would the very person who can execute on an idea throw in with somebody else for an experience that is going to be wickedly challenging and gut wrenching? Most of us really need to believe in the dream to sign up for that. And that dream typically needs to be our own.
If I waited until a developer was ready to stop working on her own great idea and join with me to work on my dream for free, I’d never start.
I would never start.
But I have started. I have a product, and people are using it. It has cost tens of thousands of dollars more for me to get where I am now than it would have cost me if I was an even mildly skilled developer. It’s taken too long (and continues to take too long). But I have something. Imagine what I’ll be able to accomplish once I can attract a great developer.
The bias against non-technical solo founders is almost total when it comes to obtaining funding, incubation, acceleration. There are exceptions. I’ve been very lucky to find people who believe in me and my company despite my “handicap.”
But how many great non-technical entrepreneurs and their ideas would never get off the ground if those entrepreneurs let a little thing like not having a developer in their back pocket stop them?
Not a day goes by that I don’t think, “My next startup is going to help non-technical founders get their ideas off the ground.” But I hope by the time I start my next company, someone else will have solved that problem.
In the meantime, I can’t let a little thing like that stop me. I find a way to pay contractors. And I’m learning to code.
Got brass in pocket
Got bottle I’m gonna use it
Intention I feel inventive
Gonna make you, make you, make you notice
– The Pretenders, “Brass In Pocket”