I was inclined to put a brief Q&A in the experience where I mentor startups and founders, as I’m so frequently asked this that it’s certainly an FAQ. On further contemplation, this warrants an article.
Seriously? It’s the most important work a venture does!
The notion that a company built on technology succeeds based on the technology is ludicrous. No company finds a market, financing, or revenue based on the technology (alone). So you do your job: Build a business. Find that market. Validate demand. Figure out exactly what needs to be built, why, and how.
You can hire Fractional CTO’s these days . . . and they are kind of a good deal. They can get you to an MVP (using their development teams with whom they’ve already worked extensively) for a fraction of the price developing a solution would otherwise cost . . . AND you own all the intellectual property (assuming you’ve paid them in full up front . . . or bought them in with some cash and some shares).
You **can** do that.
But to do what?
Most founders, I find, seeking that technical help, are looking for a partner to build what they want. Not what the market might really support.
What’s the difference? What’s the difference between what you want built and what the market might really support?
Typically, a chasm as wide as the Grand Canyon.
Most founders, I find and fear, never study competitors, history, capital sources, nor customer wants vs. needs.
You may think something is a good idea because your limited world view affirms it should exist. Most startups never explore if anyone will actually pay for such a thing, how, or if competitors will just kill your likelihood of success.
Noted economist Peter Drucker once shared for a reason, that Marketing creates the most value in business.
What do Startup Founders with No Technical Skills do During Incubation?
- Market validation
- Determine price sensitivity
- Develop lead sources
- Aggregate customer lists
- Foster a brand
- Market research
- Competitor analysis
- Raise capital
- Nail down your sales pitch
- Attract talent
- Design wireframes
- Test user experiences with focus groups
- Build mockups
- Identify and open doors to partners
- Build a website
- Grow your social marketing channels
- Start a personal blog that serves your company
- Work out the pro forma financials
- Draft various business models
- Test customer acquisition channels (and costs)
They do the work of building a business and developing a market – without one, the investment in technology is pointless (and rather insane).