As a non-technical founder what should I be doing while the product is developed?
As a non-technical co-founder of a startup, I'm currently in a phase where our CTO and the technical team are busy developing our product. While I trust their expertise in handling the technical aspects, I'm unsure about my role during this phase. What specific responsibilities should I take over during the development phase in order to be successful? How can I ensure that I'm adding value?
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First of all, congrats on starting this journey.
So, you’re a non-technical co-founder in the process of product development, feeling a bit like a fifth wheel while your CTO and tech team are in the zone smashing around their keyboard and fixing bugs as they come. This is definitely not the time to feel like an outsider, there’s plenty for you to sink your teeth into.
First off, business development. Highly critical, probably the most critical task to do right now, and also your time to shine. Get out there and start networking like a boss. You need to be building relationships 24/7 — LinkedIn, Events, coffee shops — to anyone who will listen — you’re pitching and talking. Forge partnerships, explore potential markets and lay the groundwork for your future growth and collaborations.
Then there’s the big F – fundraising. Unless you’ve got a money tree in your backyard, you’re going to need funds to fuel your startup’s journey. That’s your second most critical concern. Start reaching out to potential investors, hundreds of them. Polish that pitch deck until it sparkles, and show it to everyone who can give you money — your grandma, your friends, your family, your rich friends and all the cold-emailed investors that you reached out to. The more you pitch, the better you get, easy.
Don’t forget about marketing and branding. You’re not just selling a product — you’re selling a brand. So, get clear on what your brand stands for, who your target audience is, and how you’re going to reach them. Business scoping canvas, workshop with designers, brainstorm ideas, every second should be spent thinking how can we make the product better.
Next up on your to-do list — customer development. Get to know your customers like they’re your best friends. Conduct market research, gather feedback, and make sure you’re building a product that meets their needs. Talk to them on zoom, see how they use the tool, write personal emails to your early adopters and invite them to coffee, ask them what made them come on board?
And let’s not forget about product management. Even if you’re not the one doing the coding, you’re still the one in charge of the product. Work closely with your tech team, help prioritize features, and ensure your product is shaping up to be something your market needs. You’ve talked with your customer, you know what should be prioritized, you know their expectations, so be there when the tech team asks questions.
Finally, there’s team building and culture. A startup is only as strong as its team, so invest time in hiring for non-technical roles and fostering a positive work environment. Make sure everyone feels comfortable and at their best performance.
So, while it may seem like you’re on the sidelines while your product is being developed, remember that there’s a whole playing field out there that needs your attention. Your role as a non-technical co-founder is just as crucial to your startup’s success. So, roll up your sleeves and dive in.
Have fun building your venture! The software won’t succeed without you going out into the real world.
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