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This post is written for non-technical startup founders who are considering different options for developing their product.

There are two common options:

  1. Define the features of your app and hire developers to do the job.
  2. Find a technical co-founder and let him take care of the development.

 

I used to be an outsource software developer and manager. And from my experience working with different startup clients, first option rarely works. I’ve worked with technical clients and non-technical clients. The former tended to be much more successful in the end.

Usually hiring developers is a good option only for those who have a good understanding of the development process. Best case scenario is when this person is a developer himself. Even better if he writes some of the code because it forces  to pay attention to seemingly little details.

Not having any of the decision makers know how to code can have a very negative influence on the company. Non-technical co-founders can often miss little details that can make all the difference when it’s time to expand the app. I’ve seen lots of times when non-technical founders made decisions that forced bad architecture.

Technical co-founder can serve as a translator between businesspeople and programmers. Those people generally speak different languages and have different priorities. Technical co-founder can help these two camps works as a whole and make architectural decisions with business in priorities in mind. Without him critical details may be lost in translation.

I like the example of Basecamp, where one of company’s founders David Hansson is not just a developer, but an active decision maker.

Such business incubators as Y-combinator spoted that teams with technical co-founders do better. Here’s a quote from their FAQ:

– I have a great idea for a startup, but I’m not technical. Will you still fund me? Can you help me find programmers to implement my idea?
We’ll consider funding you, but your chances are about ten times better if you find yourself a technical cofounder.

 

I’m not saying that technical co-founder is the only option there is. It just seems like having one is an important asset to the startup.

 

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