Can a non-tech entrepreneur start up a tech business?

I am an advertising entrepreneur running my own studio the last 4 years. We hit $1,00,000 last year. Now I would like to dab my hands in the tech space - a mobile app. I have an idea and like to pursue this as my second career. What are the initial first steps I need to take?


Without question you can!

I've put out over 150 apps into the app store without knowing how to code and have gotten over 1 million downloads in the consumer space. You just need to find the best people to help you see your vision through.

Start by putting together a clickable prototype so that people can see your vision. Tools like POP are great for doing this. It's hard for people to get a grasp on an idea until they can see it in action. If you want a more high fidelity prototype, get a professional designer and use Invision . This is especially important when talking to developers or investors.

Is it a SaaS (Software as a Service) type product? If so, you can try to get some pre-sales by showing your target customer your clickable prototype to help validate your idea before spending money to get it developed. This alone can save you a lot of time and money. It sounds like you're a good salesman if you've got 1 M in revenue.

If you have any questions about how to find people to build it, how to oversee the process, how to quickly validate the idea, or talk through anything else related, I'm happy to jump on a call.


Answered 8 years ago

Of course you can, provided you surround yourself with the right people

Consider this:
AirBnB's founders were not programmers; they were design guys. Now, it's a billion dollar tech company. If you have a dream to build the next big app or web startup, you'll need to know what the journey entails. The things that no one will tell you about, that you can learn only through experience.

That being said, there are a few things you need to consider before you pursue this as a second career:

1.) Outsource or build the product in-house?
2.) Target the right market.
3.) Search for a technical cofounder

Answered 8 years ago

Are you great at storytelling, to communicate your message to match what your audience desires?

Are you good at sales & marketing?

Can you lead people?

These and more are skills a non-techie can make powerful use of as an entrepreneur. Many a tech has started a business, only to discover the customers did not come just because they built the better mousetrap.

In your case, I'd recommend learning about coding projects, so that you don't get taken advantage of: what is a beginning, middle, and an end for such things. Find a coder who can explain in plan English what he's doing. Be eager to learn about coding and development, though.

And most importantly: Find a problem people actually want solved. Don't just make something because you think it's cool. You can try that later. Right now, find out what people will pay you to fix. Let them invest at a discount to fund the development. Get paid to make the thing.

Answered 8 years ago

It's important to differentiate what is and isn't tech.

For example, AirBnB is not tech.
It uses a bit of technology, very basic and simple, to support a business.

Likewise, most mobile apps are so simple they can hardly be called technical.

However, there are also startups which do require serious tech knowledge (which you can either have or get from me / another tech advisor), like ebay, paypal, amazon, rackspace, ... companies which require an important investment in technology to exist.

In your case, I would say take some time to figure out what you need, try some quick prototyping with a good web developer, using android:chrome on a mobile phone and when you're 100% positive that's the app you want, get a beautiful skin from a professional designer and ask for it to be made in native code, publish and see how it fares.

Answered 8 years ago

Sounds like you have a thriving business structure in place -- $1 million in year four is great. Well done.
Since you’re in a creative space, have you considered developing an app creation group within your existing business? Obviously you would need to bring in (or outsource) some specific tech expertise, but some of your current employees may be jazzed to join you on this side journey as well. Plus, when it’s successful, you’ll have a valuable addition to your agency’s suite of services.
Good luck and let me know if you need more assistance.

Answered 8 years ago

I did. I built several apps and with my last one I raised personally a $1.2M seed investment with an european Venture Capital seed.

I studied design management and learnt how to build a tech team and lead them as a product manager.

I built these projects from the first prototypes, A/B tests, fund raising, user growth and traction based lean models.

The first step is: validate your app idea on the web before even building the app.

Contact me if you need all the details about the exact steps I followed, will be happy to help !

Answered 8 years ago

Of course you can! If you have an idea you can find people to help you with the an expertise in tech. Upwork is a great platform to find coders for mobile apps or network with people in the industry to find a business partner or co-founder. In this day and age you can find someone to help you do everything and if you have the business side taken care of all you will need is a CTO or even freelancer to make your dream a reality. If you want to further discuss Upwork or networking events in tech I would be happy to further discuss!

Answered 8 years ago

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