Non-technical Founder?

How Venture Services can help you
Non-technical Founder?
How Venture Services can help you
When you think of a startup founder, someone like Mark Zuckerberg probably comes to mind.

A computer science major and a software engineer, Zuckerberg built a technology-led company that consists (mainly) of software engineers, and he's become the poster child for today's founders because of it.

There's no denying the weight behind the stereotype of the tech-savvy founder. Every company, especially any new company, relies on software to power its business. This makes developing and managing technology teams a high priority for every founder and CEO alike; if you're in charge of a company, you'll have to oversee technology to an extent.
But the subsequent proliferation of startups in almost every imaginable industry has given rise to another phenomenon: the non-technical founder.

Before the Silicon Valley boom, these individuals weren't seen as "nontechnical" founders — they were simply founders. Having the technical know-how was a bonus, not a given. Today, there's a stronger expectation that founders will have that technical background, despite the fact that great ideas can come from anyone.

The orthodox route is to add a technical co-founder to the core team. By hiring a CTO to manage the company's tech operations, non-technical founders have created successful startups in martech, proptech, agritech, legaltech, and other emerging sectors.

But this is easier said than done, as finding great tech talent isn't always easy.
The Non-Technical Founders' Catch-22
Early-stage founders want to focus on products, customers, and capital. But high-priority technical issues pile up quickly. It's easy to find yourself losing focus (and eventually capital and revenue) when a lack of technical skill creates obstacles.

Obviously, you'll eventually need someone to manage your tech — but finding and recruiting any kind of co-founder or CTO, much less a rock star, is difficult. The war for technical talent intensifies every day as giants like Facebook, Google, Uber and Snapchat continue recruiting the best engineers in town. Anyone vaguely qualified as a CTO will have five to 10 job offers in front of them.

This presents a catch-22 for non-technical founders — tech talent is necessary to break into a market and receive funding, but the talent needs an incentive to get on board.
Early-stage founders want to focus on products, customers, and capital. But it's easy to lose focus when a lack of technical skill creates obstacles
Even Airbnb struggled here. The startup didn't have a tech-savvy core team member at the company's genesis — CEO Brian Chesky and CPO Joe Gebbia are both talented designers, but neither could code, so the team was considered technologically weak for several years. And that didn't appeal to investors. Chesky remarked this is one of the major factors that prevented them from getting substantial funding for two years. Chesky and Gebbia were able to recruit a co-founder/CTO, Nate Blecharczyk, but it took time and plenty of effort; Blecharczyk went back and forth on whether he'd join, leaving the other two to flounder and live off dry cereal.

This imbalance puts the power in the hands of qualified CTOs to demand increasingly generous compensation, making it even more difficult for cash-strapped startups to attract and retain qualified talent.

Given the advantage CTOs have, they're able to jump ship comfortably if things don't work out — meaning they don't have as much at stake in the company. This creates further complications for the core team. Non-technical founders are susceptible to the Dunning-Kruger effect. Put simply, in the absence of domain knowledge, its' hard to know what "good" looks like. As a result, entrepreneurs find it hard to trust advice they receive from someone who doesn't depend as much on the company's success.

A successful in-house team needs the right people and personalities working together. The team needs to be motivated and inspired, and it can be challenging to create this level of efficiency in short periods of time with limited capital — not to mention the fact that entrepreneurs are (and should be) wary of ceding large amounts of the available cash or equity to anyone they don't fully trust.

Inevitably, most founders wait to fill this vital role, choosing to outsource technology needs, which greatly constrains the consistency and quality of product development.
The Rise of Venture Services
It's necessary to have a partner with technical knowledge and skin in the game to succeed, and that's where venture services firms come into play.

Part product developer, part investor, venture services firms add the most value to startups in the seed stage by providing nontechnical founders with on-demand product teams in exchange for a mix of equity and cash. By sharing risk and the potential upside, they're properly incentivized to collaborate and take intellectual ownership of the startup's strategic and business goals.

Instead of the project-centric approach that traditional outsourcing's fees-for-service model achieves, venture services firms own a stake in the business and are invested in creating a stable, high-quality product. Because they're co-owners of the company, these firms are more committed to the company's success than a CTO off the street, who could walk out the door for a better offer at any time.

While ideas are great, running a successful business involves developing the right partnerships, and it's important not to overextend or dilute your resources. When a firm acts as an investor and a developer, founders like Chesky and Gebbia can compete with the world's Zuckerbergs. Anyone can have a great idea, and it doesn't take a computer programming genius to execute on one to create a successful company.

You don't need to be Mark Zuckerberg to be a founder. And if you're not technical, venture services may be exactly what you need to accelerate your startup.