Questions

Can you be the founder of a saas startup if you're not a tech person?

Since 100% of the business relies on having the product and I don't have the skills to create the product, should I drop the idea or find a tech cofounder? Because then I'm 100% reliant on the tech cofounder to build it and how do I know the person doesn't just build it and market it themselves?

10answers

Great question.
You should definitely not drop the idea if you think that it is worth pursuing. Just like you need the tech-founder, he needs a business founder with a dream, and the passion to make it succeed.
I suggest that following:
1. Do market validation/ POC to see if the idea has potential (get a general idea of how here: https://clarity.fm/questions/6423/how-do-you-do-market-research).
2. If it shoes potential, start looking for a tech-co-founder. There are numerous ways (try these):
www.meetup.com
www.founderdating.com
www.cofounderslab.com
http://www.founders-nation.com
www.founder2be.com
Linkedin...

3. Do a trial period + sign a founder's agreement.
Happy to help you with any of the above once/if you need.
Good luck!
I've successfully helped over 350 entrepreneurs, startups and businesses, and I would be happy to help you. After scheduling a call, please send me some background information so that I can prepare in advance - thus giving you maximum value for your money. Take a look at the great reviews I’ve received: https://clarity.fm/assafben-david


Answered 2 years ago

You ca do this for certain and agree with the other answer that you do not have to have the skills to create the product. If you are going to bring on a co-founder for the tech side, legal agreements can be to ensure both of you are protected.

You can also think about outsourcing the technical work to one of many companies who can architect and build out your product, meaning that you maintain ownership.

There is surely more than one way to approach, but do not give up on your concept due to a lack of technical skills.

Happy to discuss more if I can be of help to you.

Carlos


Answered 2 years ago

I can say as an experienced angel investor, the proven magical founder formula for a tech startup always consists of at least two people like Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates & Paul Allen. One of them is a business strategist with a massive transformative purpose to change the world. On the other side; the other one is a tech guru, who can convert the idea to a tangible solution.
This thing is also one of the key points all of the investors would like to see in a tech startup with the potential to grow exponentially.
And, you will need some other skills soon to grow your business exponentially.


Answered 2 years ago

I heard many variations of this question during the initial phases of building startups from new entrepreneurs.

Think of it this way. If you want to be a racecar driver, do you really need to be a mechanic? It helps if you know how to maintain the car and tune it. Most of the great racecar drivers are not known for their auto mechanic skills. However, the racecar driver cannot be successful without his car being in the top-notch condition. In most cases, they find somebody else who can maintain the car for them.

In my experience, the best founders are the ones close to the customer. If you are in sales or customer management, it would be very useful. You can always find people to help you build the tech platform if you know what the customer wants and how to get it to them. A technical co-founder or an agency can build the platform for you.


Answered 2 years ago

I'm a former early-stage SaaS co-founder and growth-stage SaaS CTO.

Many tech startups - including the ones I've been personally involved in - are co-founded by one person who focuses on business and operations and another who focuses on tech.

You should definitely focus first on gaining validation. Early validation doesn't usually require technology. For example, it is easy to conduct surveys and interviews, it is easy to deploy ads and landing pages, etc. Once you have some meaningful validation, you should ask *yourself* some key questions:
- Why are you and your team uniquely suited to grow this business?
- Why now?
- Why isn’t anyone else already doing it or why do you have the upper hand on them?

If you can answer those questions - fairly and confidently - then you have every right to consider yourself an important half of a co-founding equation. You will - of course - at this point need to bring in someone more technical. You will be reliant on them for the tech, but they will be reliant on you for everything else - business acumen, inside knowledge, connections, the things only you can bring to the table. A good technical co-founder will understand that an idea is just a seed, but it takes the right business partner to make it come to life.

Check out this recent blog post I wrote on the role of an early-stage CTO, how to find one and compensate one, etc:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/startups-burning-questions-ctos-answered-anthony-putignano/

If you have any further questions, let me know!


Answered 2 years ago

This is a complex question.

Likely best to talk with several smart people about whether or not your idea lends itself to your situation.

With the limited context you provided + no guess about your personality style, no way to guess.


Answered 2 years ago

Yes
These are most important things
Founder traits
1. Integrity
2. Obsession
3. Founder Story
4. Personality
5. Experience
You can find someone with experience for the tech


Answered 2 years ago

Yes, yes, yes -- a million times yes!

Throw the idea that you "don't have the skills to create the product" out of the window. These days, you don't have to know how to code to build software.

There are a whole slew of "No-Code" and "Low-Code" tools available to help you build your tech startup -- and a whole community of solo founders to ask questions of. Check out these two resources:

https://www.makerpad.co

https://www.indiehackers.com

I'm a software engineer and have been building startups for 15+ years. I'm making the transition into No Code for two reasons: first, to build faster and launch my own products with less work; and second, so that I do a better job helping non-technical founders launch their startups on thier own.

The ecosystem isn't 100% there yet, but it will be in the next few years. Depending on which tool you use, you may run into feature limitations and/or find vendor lock-in when you reach a certain scale.

But that still meshes with the ethos of a Lean Startup MVP: you're eventually going to throw it all away anyway and start over from scratch. And when you do, you'll have customers, you'll have money, and you'll be in a better place to hire developers without worrying about them stealing your idea.

Let me know if I can do anything to help. You got this!


Answered 2 years ago

I have helped many non-technical founders getting their ideas started and running successfully. it is the most important question when they start. I usually recommend two choices in this case.

1. Find a Co-founder
2. Recruit somebody who can do it

Following are the Pros and Cons:
SaaS is an extremely slow burn but can also have amazing growth potential depending on the space. You need to find technical talent that doesn't mind grinding for 6-24 months without turning much of a profit.

Even if you are well funded, unless you have prior success in SaaS, you will most likely burn up your runway finding product-market fit. This why I personally suggest against hiring technical talent until the business has achieved certain milestones.

You really need a technical cofounder that share the vision for the service, that understand the insane amount of work involved, and can build your MVP.


Answered 2 years ago

My last startup failed because of this very thing. Except that I was the tech person and he was the salesperson. He just did not understand the tech so he could sell it well. He was a highly successful salesperson but he just did not get the tech--so the company failed. I know many here are super positive about these issues and indeed a properly setup instrument can protect you from a usurping co-founder but if you do not understand the tech well things can go wrong. I suggest you get a tech adviser like myself to check what the person is doing (of course also get a co-founder agreement) and if all is going well. Set benchmarks that the tech person must meet in an agreement to keep him or her on their toes, Keep control but you can only keep control if you understand what the tech does and how it will help the world.


Answered 2 years ago

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