TechSpeak for Entrepreneurs
I met Nelly Yusupova as we were recruiting software engineers to teach computer science in the NYC schools. She's a software engineer and entrepreneur with a passion for sharing what she knows with others. A few weeks after we met, Nelly came to see me to tell me about a two day bootcamp she runs called TechSpeak for Entrepreneurs.
TechSpeak for Entrepreneurs teaches entrepreneurs how the software design and build process works. Nelly had observed, as have I, that entrepreneurs who are not deeply technical spend too much money, time, and effort trying to get their ideas turned into software products. Many hire the wrong people, get a product that doesn't meet what they wanted, and worse of all, many get ripped off in the process. The idea behind TechSpeak for Entrepreneurs is to help entrepreneurs avoid these mistakes. The agenda/curriculum for the two day bootcamp is here.
There are bootcamps coming up in Phoenix, the Bay Area, and NYC:
Phoenix, AZ Apr 05-06
Silicon Valley, CA Apr 13-14
New York City, NY May 04-05
The NYC bootcamp is at Columbia University and there is a week left to get an early bird discount. Here are the details of the NYC bootcamp:
Brilliant IdeaI had very limited IT skills and years ago built a proof of concept myself due to lack of ability to express the ideasIt wasted years !Preventing this error will really help
This is great. I would love to see them expand this to BizSpeak for Techies as well to cover the other side of the coin.It’s often *very* difficult to get communication (and understanding) between tech and non-tech people right.There are just gobs and gobs of misunderstanding on both sides and when push comes to shove, the tech people generally don’t want to spend the time to learn the ‘whys’, ‘whats’, and ‘hows’ behind the business and the non-tech people don’t want to spend the time to learn the ‘whys’, ‘whats’, and ‘hows’ behind the tech.Both sides often *say* they care, but the reality is they just want the other side to be a black box that ‘just works’ and have enough quick talking points to sound like they know what’s going on inside that black box…
That’s a good idea, but there’s a bit of a mountain to climb in that your average tech is quite certain BizSpeak is unadulterated bullshit. Of course they’re only half right.
There’s a huge amount of jargon to explain on both sides. Great idea.
Yep, it’s good to see people helping executives *understand* the process. I would say that it’s better for an entrepreneur to hire a technical manager though. The entrepreneur doesn’t really have time to spend on such things..But, since I offer contract software development services I see many executives struggle to understand how to integrate “themselves” into the development process..Entrepreneurs need to be selling (always be selling) the story. If you can’t get a technical manager for the team then you need to rethink the whole idea.
“I would say that it’s better for an entrepreneur to hire a technical manager though.”If you don’t have even a basic understanding yourself you don’t know the questions to even ask of the technical manager and to me that is extremely important.No professional, no matter how knowledgeable and experienced, should be relied upon without question. Not because they can’t be trusted, but because in the same way teaching allows someone to burnish their skills being questioned and having to justify allows someone to make sure they aren’t overlooking something important that they should be considering.Decisions are not black and white either they are nuance and take considering many factors that matter specifically.”If you can’t get a technical manager for the team”Otoh if you don’t have a basic understanding of what is going on you don’t even know enough to vet someone to fit this role or to even vet the person that is going to vet the person that you are hiring. We run into this constantly with “tech guys” who are hired by clueless business people to handle (low level) technical issues. To the clueless the “tech guys” look like the gold standard of help. But to someone on the other side many times they look clueless themselves.
Executives aren’t the same as labor. They can and do operate in a trust based scenario. Founders of non-technical businesses don’t need to understand technology. I know some who use pencil and paper instead of a computer. They are very successful and very wealthy.This world does NOT revolve around gadgets. It may appear that way but it’s not so. The world revolves around people, relationships, power, and money!
“I know some who use pencil and paper instead of a computer. They are very successful and very wealthy.”So do I. (Not to mention that my desk is littered with both 3×5 cards as well as 3 large (24/30/24) Apple monitors). I also keep both paper backups for things as well as digital backups for anything important. But they are older and earned their money old school or in a family business that was long established.Not to say that there aren’t businesses that don’t need as much technology obviously it all depends on what you are doing no disagreement there.”Founders of non-technical businesses don’t need to understand technology.”Disagree. An example of a non-technical business might be a wholesaler operating out of a 50,000 sf warehouse. I would say that the owner of that does need to understand technology so I would disagree with that statement (in general always exceptions).”This world does NOT revolve around gadgets.”I agree with that. Reminds me of men who think that by reading GQ they will know how to be a man and get a woman “10 Things that will turn her on” etc. But this all goes to understanding the reason behind something which is the part that most people ignore.I don’t play golf but I understand enough to know the reason people that play golf play golf and the benefits of playing golf in certain businesses. To me that’s the important part of understanding something – the reason behind why people do what they do and how it might benefit you in certain circumstances.
Good example to use! Explain why the owner needs to understand technology?
The modern warehouse is highly automated and highly optimized. Google “warehouse management system” for the 10000′ view.cc @domainregistry:disqus
Non-tech owners, which is what we’re talking about, are business people who focus on building relationships and doing deals. If your goal for starting a business is to be “aqu-hired” then definitely know your technology.
Funny, I was under the impression we were talking about the owner of wholesaler operating out of a 50,000 sf warehouse. No matter.All things being equal, if your goal for starting a business is to be acqui-hired you’re better off simply getting hired.
Yes, a non-tech owner, same thing.Today many startups are simply for getting aqu-hired. Or at least it seems thats way. Maybe I’m reading it wrong. I see so many nano-biz purchases where the founders take positions at the purchasing company that I thought it was planned. In the past founders would be pushed out within six months, if they went along at all, of an aquisition.
“BizSpeak for Techies as well to cover the other side of the coin.”What are some examples of things that you have run into that could be covered by something like this?I don’t think you really mean “bizspeak” that sounds simply like knowing the language and jargon. That would be like me knowing what a mulligan is but not understanding the point behind “taking a mulligan” (re: golf).”the tech people generally don’t want to spend the time to learn the ‘whys’, ‘whats’, and ‘hows’ behind the business”Some of this is hard wired in though. Many tech people don’t have a seat of the pants feel or the necessary entitlement to know that making money is what makes the world go round (and sex of course). Tech people tend to see business people as suits without a clue. But you can’t defeat the enemy unless you understand how they think or what their motives are. This is part of selling and it makes perfect sense and techies need to understand how to sell what they need or what is good for them in the language that the suits can understand. But since they see things digitally they have a hard time doing that. A hard time understanding the nuance of why people make decisions that they make based upon emotion driven by profit or fear.”non-tech people don’t want to spend the time to learn the ‘whys’, ‘whats’, and ‘hows’ behind the tech.”Non tech people tend to act annoyingly clueless and do not want to even attempt to have any understanding about what is going on preferring to just “leave it to the repairman” to fix the problem. (Using repairman simply because this is the same thing that people do in their own house when someone comes to fix something. They ignore the repairman without regard to whether there is something simple they could do or learn that would prevent the problem next time and learn something that they can even apply to another situation.)”Both sides often *say* they care”Saying you care is an auto responder and hard wired similar to how people say they are sorry when they hear that your aunt or your pet died. Something I heard in a commercial last night that I will know look up to find out what that means.
one of the biggest problems in both groups is getting them to admit that they don’t know. Admitting you don’t know is what holds people up from asking questions in the first place, and then learning to communicate that data.
Agree…personally I always push people to focus on the ‘why’…if both sides can openly and honestly talk about the real ‘why’ they want to do something, or why they *have* to do a certain thing…then the conversation can be much much more productive…but most just want to default to the “because I know what I’m talking about”…
You’re one of the few techies I know who doesn’t already know everything there is to know about business 😉
The older and more experienced I get…the less I know 😉
I value people who can serve as interpreters, one for the other. Bridge builders.
ANYONE THAT NOT RIP LID OFF BLACK BOX AND START TINKERING WAS NEVER ENTREPRENEUR IN FIRST PLACE.
Wow. Very impressive program. This type of initiative is the future of education- i.e. very concentrated, short courses that pack a ton of wisdom and learnings.I wonder if Nelly has been able to attract a larger than average number of women to her programs, which would be a great thing.
yes, it skews more towards women
Let’s slow down. It’s not the role of others to *push* people into things just because of their gender. If women aren’t attracted to the sciences that’s OK.Any person, no matter what their gender, should feel comfortable making their choices based upon their inner feelings and interests.
We’re not talking about pushing. Some women might be more inclined or encouraged to join a course that is led by another successful woman.
What? Why would that have anything to do with someone joining a course? Successful women just like successful men make choices based on ROI.
The fact that the attendees of that program skewed towards women is an indicator of what is really going on.
I’m not sure what you mean, but I don’t think I want to talk about that anymore.
i really think there is more that goes into “attracted to the sciences” for women. I really think they teach science in the lower levels badly, and in ways that don’t promote progress, particularly for women.When i was in middle school I cut a deal with my math teacher (for two years, 6th and 7th grade) that as long as I maintained a 95 average i only had to do half my homework. (I should note that my adding and subtracting skills suck, but proof based concepts come easily, and for some reason I liked doing high school geometry proofs and logic proofs). Had she approached my parents to force them to pull me out of math class for something more advanced, I probably would have been a math major. No one really bothered though, and I think one of the reasons why was because the school was not very feminist in their outlook towards women, science and math (though were for general intelligence)
I don’t see any of that kind of thing. I don’t think someone’s mind is more or less inquisitive because of their gender.One of the problems I do see in the world today is people tend to want to blame things on people’s gender. Some say it’s bad that more women don’t enter the sciences. Bad for who? Men and women both should not be making decisions based on statistics about which gender enter which field of study. I don’t like it when people base their decisions on what others *tell* them is right for them. That leads people down the wrong path.
I get away with saying that because close to 80% of the women I graduated middle and high school with are married and a plurality have children before the age of 25.I was (and still am in a lot of ways if I talk about my home community) encouraged to sort out career choices by either a) making a lot of moeny when younger so I can stop working later and be at home with my kids or b) choose a profession that should be part time so I can be at home with my kids.as a result, being a scientist doesn’t really come up with a career choice for women were as compared to men.I do think if that behavior was not encouraged, then there would be more scientists in my class.
Your post is a personal one but I’ll give you my opinion here as long as we agree all decisions that you make are your own.The way you are talking sounds like you’re a sheep. The statement that you were “encouraged” means you “allowed” people to do that to you. If you were behaving as a leader instead of a follower you woud have stated “Dummies thought they were influencing my decisions by providing encouragement that went against my desires.” I’m not saying you followed their “encouragement” I’m saying the way you word your post says a lot about your thinking patterns.I say be a leader and do your own thing. #1. Ensure you’re making your own unbiased opinions based upon who you are inside. #2. Look at things for their value not their alterior motives. Make sure they are providing the value *you* deem acceptable. #3. When someone says “Here are your choices” say to them “I decide what my choices are”.
The age range that @ShanaC:disqus was referring to — as I understood her — was teens. You are asking a lot of a teenager. And seemingly are unaware of the influences of peers, teachers and advisers on a young mind. You can only consider options that you know exist.What I see happening in the tech world today is that people who grew up being denied or shielded from certain options or possibilities due to societal bias — and those who commiserate with them — are wanting to ensure that this is not perpetuated in coming generations.You mention gender earlier. I believe that gender diversity is valid — and I think valuable given the richer perspective that this provides. You said “Some say it’s bad that more women don’t enter the sciences. Bad for who?” I say bad for society. The broader and more diverse the collective mind developing technology, the richer the results, and the broader the application. A lot has already been said on this in previous AVC posts and in the comments. And I mean A LOT!
I don’t know how old ShanaC is. But if kids would do more of #1, #2, and #3. I think we would have better kids. They would think more independently and not succumb to peer pressure.Being denied or shielded is again forcing someone, similiar to encouraging, because it’s an act with an intent.I say what’s worse for society is people who try to push others in a direction the “pusher” deems right. Keep in mind their are people who resist the push. Some may even resist what they *want* because of the push. That person may be *naturally* inclined to the sciences but we miss out on their contributions because someone tried to push them.It’s always better to ask someone what *they* want and try to help instead of being a “pusher”.
and to listen and understand rather than just offer opinions and empty advice.which as the mother of teens and preteens I must remind myself dailyand I can only hope that this spills over into how I comment on blogs
closer to pre-teens. And the messages you get there matter
when I volunteered years ago with an organization that encouraged kids to finish high school, we targeted middle schoolers because that is when the message would have the most impact
of course, but it takes a lot of time to break the messages you get as a preteen as an adult. It would be better to not have them happen in the first place
First we need to know if there is a message or not.Here’s a message (all made up):”Statistics show that 95% of all coal miners are male. So today we’re going to take the girls outside and let them dig holes on the school lawn with shovels in the hopes that some of them will become coal miners.”Here’s a non-message (again made up):”*Everyone* is going to be given the *opportunity* to practice digging holes with shovels today. This will give you exposure to coal mining activities.”The second example doesn’t push anyone of any particular gender into doing anything.
“If you are a non technical entrepreneur, I strongly advise you to get technical.” 100% this.
OK, but a technology partner/CTO you can trust is even more important than getting a crash course on technology. Your CTO will keep up with the changes, whereas you won’t.
Every team I work with has a tech founder. Without it and without that core trust and smarts you are kinda sunk from day 1.
agreed. but you know how to find one.
If you don’t come from the tech side and don’t have the networks or the experience to choose with confidence, agree…super tough.Admit that I didn’t read the agenda that carefully to see if they covered that.
THIS BIGGEST CHALLENGE.MOSTLY BECAUSE ANY GOOD CTO ALREADY STARTED OWN IDEA.
I have to call “hogwash” on that one. While I’m fully tech literate I don’t find much of the time I spend talking with business people focused on technical talk. Business people talk about applying resources to problems or opportunities. Monetary resources, technical resources, etc.The only time I find an advantage is that I can hire easier because technical people trust me more since I can speack tech eaze. They know they won’t hear a bunch of gobble-de-goop from me.
Not clear what you are saying….My point is that in my client base there are invariably cofounders, one being the tech lead. And the partnership between the tech lead and the business/product lead is great pairing.Where’s the ‘hogwash”?
You were saying they are kinda sunk from day 1. But founders can always hire tech savvy. Just like they can hire sales savvy or accounty savvy.Although technology of some sort or another is used in most every business today. The business of business is still about applying resources to problems and/or opportunities. I can’t remember one time when talking to a bank, for example, where they asked anything about programming or other technical issues. It was all money and business.
We will have to disagree on this.Accounting or banking as a necessary service and infrastructure/technology design on an ongoing basis are not the same thing.
Why does everyone run and hide on these issues?You can hire tech just like you can hire an accountant. There are full-time in-house accountants at businesses.Here’s a big problem. Most businesses struggle with understanding their “core business”. 90%+ of businesses rely heavily onb technology. Less than half of them have a core business that is technology.
No web-based venture can go forever without a tech founder. But there is definitely a situation that is growing out there. I see it every day. Non technical founders by the truckload with great ideas and passion, but no money to hire. These are entrepreneurs, and they will find a way to at least get a prototype.I think that solutions to help these people are going to find a market. And I think that resources for nurturing and propelling non-technical founders’ ideas until they can get enough traction to attract a great technical founder is going to become more common.
There are plenty of successful web-based ventures that were/are not started by a tech savvy founder.Business savvy founders do just fine because they have the skills required to start and grow a business. They hire to complement their skills and build very successful businesses.
I agree completely and well said.Let me parse it this way.Businesses that use the web to order and fulfill, think Shopify, are not what we are talking about. We built one of those last year and I simply hired someone who was a Liquid expert.For custom solutions yes I agree you can get it prototyped without that founder but unless it’s super simple its hard to do without some trusted guidance.Just as I know there is a business out there for CMO/COO advisors to work across a portfolio of companies (I do this) I think there is also a hole out there for CTOs with the chops to do the same. Buying tech and buying trusted guidance that you can work with over time are not always the same.
“…I simply hired someone…”That’s my point. But, it takes an understanding of what the “core businees” is first.”Buying tech and buying trusted guidance that you can work with over time are not always the same.”Sadly that is true. I know I’ve always been open and honest with all clients. I’ve lost some to discount labor shops because of it. But, with some of today’s software you can integrate outsourced technical services with a business and work just like you are an in-house team.One caveat. If your core business is software you may want to sell your talent at a future date. If you’ve outsourced all your IT services you’ll be less valuable. But, if your core business is not software then you’ll be much better off to outsource your technology needs.
Agreed. My mind is in the place where there’s no money to fund even the contract CTO. The very earliest stage. But I agree there’s a need, without question, for CTO advisors. Oh my, yes .
I’m super fortunate to have some good networks to source from.Big issue for prototypes is speed. Everything is a database and prototypes that crawl are show stoppers for selling an idea and for getting even your friends to use it.I always ask for help to insure that I don’t have something interesting that is more a diorama than a thing that cranks and shows promise.
In my mind you hit the nail on the head. The real problem is funding a business so that it can be built correctly. Too many startups can’t find the funding to start and grow properly.I build a product called HealthRMS. It’s a records management system for healthcare. It has all the bells and whistles that everyone wants. It was easy for me because I know how to design and develop software. But, I couldn’t find the funding to correctly build a successful business around the product. Too much focus today on tech. Tech is an engineering discipline and we have that in the bag. 80% of startups fail within five years because of being underfunded. That is the area needing fixed.
A lot of great advice and insights today Kirsten. (I’m sure not JUST today, but I happened to notice more than usual.) So glad you are part of this community. You bring a lot.
Thank you, Donna 🙂 I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this comment from you. We really must meet in person some time!
Let me make a prediction that you will both meet in September 🙂
And I’ll meet you in person, too 🙂
That is a safe bet. 😉 cc: @MsPseudolus:disqus
THIS LAW 7 OF ME, FAKEGRIMLOCK, LAWS OF STARTUPS.http://www.builtinchicago.o…(JUST POSTED YESTERDAY)
are you releasing the book chapter by chapter on the internet?
MOST OF IT.
The results video is quite good.I’m sure it’s no different anywhere else, but ’round these parts there’s a certain class of development shop making good coin fleecing would be entrepreneurs e.g. cookie cutter WP templates for $25k, “compulsory” hosting, withholding registry keys etc. I suspect the kind of knowledge these workshops seek to impart would help most people avoid getting ripped off.
Add to list proprietary CMS systems and content that can’t be moved off their system.”withholding registry keys”We get a people that want to switch registrar (that are paid well in advance say until 2020 so we won’t make more from them) because the tech guy wants to move the domain into their account at their registrar “to better manage” and solely because it’s better for them in some way (spiff etc.) and to lock in the customer. We typically will write to the domain owner and find that about 60% are not aware they they don’t have to move the domain to use a new host and thank us for pointing this out. Of the 40% (rough arbitrary) some are either friends or relatives with the tech guy and the balance simply don’t care and are willing to take their chances because they don’t know enough to know who is right or wrong. After the domain is move many times it ends up in the name of the tech guy “oops” or privacy protected (where you can’t even tell what is going on). We also get calls and emails from people who have lost control of their domain because of a transfer or because it was registered for them by the tech guy and now effectively owned by him. (This then becomes a legal and contract issue although you’d be surprised how many business people seem to think there is some kind of internet police force that will help them out. It’s actually quite funny.)
Interesting. I’ve seen some of those games played too, but you’re on the front line and I’m more like a UN observer. I never feel good about the industry when I hear one of these stories. Lambs to the slaughter.
this is such a great idea.
Please come to Toronto
While I like the spirit in this I’m not sure two days of lingo coaching is going to make things better (and it may make them worse). If you are a non technical founder sit down with a book or one of the myriad sites and WORK at leaning to code for 10 hours a day for two weeks. First of all you will get more than a passing knowledge of buzzwords out of it. Secondly your technical brethren will appreciate that you understand what they do and what parts of it are hard.
What books would you recommend or online courses as I am much better visual learner.
udacity code 101
Thanks for the suggestion!
“I’m not sure two days of lingo coaching is going to make things better (and it may make them worse)”Agree.Classic “I speak Jive” from Airplane:http://www.youtube.com/watc…Longer version with an annoying 30 second commercial first:http://www.youtube.com/watc…
Great idea 🙂 I’ve seen some other classes on the same topic through Skillshare, GA, and at Incubate NYC.It’s an epidemic of non-technical founders fighting to get their ideas off the ground right now. I think education, and technology these people can use themselves, to move forward is going to change the way startups happen to some degree.
I would love to hear more as I struggle with this everyday. I want to be able to express my ideas and participate in the technology process. However, it seems that I don’t have the time to go back to school for a Technical degree. Should I spend the time and go back? However, in the end i think my talents and skills are on the non-technical side.
You just need to hire the right people. Either as emps or by outsourcing your needs. Contact me, see the URL in my name, and I’ll help you.
depending on the nature of your business, i would recommend reading a book on user experience or on search marketing — or both. these subjects cover critical “hybrid territory” — i.e. both technical and business — and so you may find it easy to understand and you may get immediate benefit from doing so.
BEST REASON LEARN TO CODE: EVERYONE THAT ALREADY CAN STARTEDUP YEARS AGO.
I struggle with this everyday as a non tech entrepreneur. And still haven’t found a good way to educate myself in this area, besides experience. Does anyone have any suggestions of online courses to take for nontech entrepreneurs/Founders?
I don’t have a specific online course to recommend, but look at Skillshare and General Assembly (they’re starting to offer online courses). You might also find something at Tuts or Lynda.Meanwhile, I would also suggest you find a book on the basics of programming that is *not* for a specific programming language. Back in the day (like, 1995) I picked up a book called “The Programming Primer.” It was not terribly long, and schooled me on the concepts without the extra layer of learning a specific language. (Of course, then I got excited and went on to learn html and have dabbled in learning php for years.)This foundation has served me well ever since.
I’ve started Codecademy — granted that will only get you so far but it’s a nice interface with a few gamification methods and that might get you from 0 minutes per day to 10-45 minutes a day of coding when you’re busy with other stuff (day job, life, startup, family/friends, etc.).But let’s be realistic, some startup ideas are going to require a little bit more experience than 3-6 months getting development skills under your belt as a rookie. What I would do is build something small as a project and get some experience working with developers and read a lot about UX, web design, and how to properly work with people (how to set and manage expectations and treat people right).I’ve worked with an offshore team in college that went very well or horribly (depending on how you frame it). I’ve also worked with developers at my day job in marketing. I’m also now working with a great tech advisor and some freelancers on relaunching my website/application and I’m SO MUCH better at this than I was in college because I’m better at vetting people and I’m better at spec’ing out and wireframing what I think should be built. It also helps that my tech advisor is filling in the gaps of my technical knowledge.Whatever it is that you decide to do, try to get decent at a number of things (I recommend wireframing/product building + marketing, but if you can throw in some Photoshop and frontend coding, all the better).Edit: Getting the right tech advisors or freelancers or technical co-founders on board takes a lot of work before they join. If you go the freelancing route you want the best and most accommodating freelancers, which means you need to be really good at product and understanding your market or they won’t take you seriously and will turn you down.
I don’t know about online but I find O’Reilly books are a great place to start when it comes to languages and although I usually read everything on tablet or kindle when it comes to text books I don’t think you can beat paper.
Hmm… Previous post not appearing.You can contact me, visit my website for contact information. The URL is in the name on this post. I’ll be glad to help you with any questions you have. This stuff isn’t magic it’s just techology. It’s pretty easy to understand if someone takes the time to help translate for you.
your posts appear to be going through…hmmm
Thanks for all the great suggestions. This community is great!
Great idea – and not a bad thing to walk through even if you consider yourself to be in the technical camp. For example, at my most recent startup we had some initial confusion over our product development process: even though most of the management team were technical their exposure to & understanding of agile varied.I don’t think the goal here is to turn the non-technical founder into an engineer: think of it as learning another language. While you may not be able to write or hold long literature discussions until years of immersion and practice, being able to order food in a restaurant and generally exchange a few words on the street gets you a long way.
I second that.
This is a graet idea – it can not hurt to get the basics loaded.However, nothing beats actually building something with technical people and forcing yourself (and them) to grind through issues form both areas.
The benefit I see is for client facing project managers to better equip themselves to navigate through sticky process issues.
As an aside – I saw a headline that TMobile was getting out requiring contractshttp://tinyurl.com/bqfh2uz#UnlockThis
Nelly, I hope you’re reading and looking forward to meeting you soon. I would argue that TechSpeak needs to branch out way beyond entrepreneurs. While the curriculum may change, the need for some technical literacy is really important for many going forward. Too often our language refers to “technical” in the binary terms of I’m a professional programmer or I’m not. Lost in this paradigm is the need our economy has to have all people have technical literacy, if not computer programming skills. We need everybody to see programming as a continuum with plenty of room for growth rather than arbitrary line that demarcates who is technical and who is not.
Is it unique to the technology sector that so many generic entrepreneurs want to start business here? Does it really look that easy from the outside? I find it hard to imagine that a corresponding number of people are looking for primers on brain surgery or aerodynamics so that they can start medical or aerospace companies with an expectation of knowing enough to be useful in earth time. I guess it may be indicative of the ubiquity of technology across society so in some sense most startups are necessarily ‘technical’. Also the fact that tech expertise is (unfairly…) viewed as a commodity skill that can be more easily assimilated than ‘traditional’ professions or crafts. This all reminds me of the cartoon of a guy declining a golf lesson ‘because I learnt last week…’!
WORST THING TO EVER HAPPEN TO STARTUPS IS EVERYONE START THINKING THEY CAN SUCCEED IN ONE.
Awesome stuff. Any plans to bring this back to NYC anytime soon? I will be out of the country during the dates listed.
This is Great, will be signing up for the NY bootcamp. Thanks for sharing.
There is certainly a need for nontechnical people to develop at least a moderate understanding behind what makes their products work, but the reverse is still important, if only just less so. Engineers need to understand the business, or more directly, they need to understand their customers. From my time as an intern at a startup accelerator I saw that although there were too many potential startups whose founders had unclear “marketing” backgrounds, with plans to outsource their engineering, there were also many startups whose founders only had programming backgrounds. While the latter is more likely to receive funding and to ultimately build a product, a laser focus on the engineering puts a startup at risk of building a product that no one wants, or perhaps worse, something that people want but are unwilling to pay for.This warning may be somewhat counterintuitive as so much emphasis is put on engineering skill, but a successful business needs customers who will pay for a product just as much as it needs the ability to deliver the finished good. Plenty of experienced businesspeople forget this, so it only makes sense that someone who is solely educated in engineering might forget it as well. A basic understanding of customer satisfaction and finances can easily be found by reading a few of the right blogs/books, but that is not what people are reading. The success of TechCrunch shows that more people are focusing on the business noise rather than the signal, which I fear may lead to startups solely aimed to get press instead of satisfying a customer. This is obviously true of startups that make a consumer facing product such as Dollar Shave Club. If they don’t handle their cash flow well they will not be able to deliver razors. But this is just as true for B2B startups, perhaps ever more so. With so many players delivering a limited number of products (think cloud computing or mobile advertising platforms), the ability to differentiate themselves as a company has never been more critical. While technical chops certainly plays a vital role, founders would be remiss to overlook the importance of marketing and finances.