Tech

4 principles to build an MVP even if you can’t write a single line of code – TechCrunch


Coding is the new literacy – for years people have called programming the X factor that guarantees future success.

It’s no surprise that there’s a widespread perception in the startup world that anyone who can’t code should forget about trying to create anything. After all, Silicon Valley, which has always been to software engineering what Hollywood is to acting, has built its reputation as the cradle of world-changing tech companies.

But the reality is that great talent is everywhere, and technical talent isn’t the only one that matters. Silicon Valley is by no means the only booming tech hub in the world – in 2013, only 37 cities were home to a unicorn; in 2021, there were unicorns in 170 cities.

Having a technical background is not a requirement for a founder to build a great company, no matter where they are. We work with many technical and non-technical people, and we encourage founders with a non-technical background to pursue entrepreneurship.

Why do we feel so strongly about this?

The proof is in the data. In his book “Super Founders,” venture capitalist Ali Tamaseb collected 30,000 data points that revealed unicorn founding CEOs were split in two: half came from business backgrounds; half had a technical background.

And, there have been many non-technical founders who have built huge tech companies, such as Melanie Perkins of Canva, Brian Chesky of Airbnb, Whitney Wolfe Herd of Bumble, and Evan Sharp of Pinterest.

Coding is “A” new literacy, not “THE” new literacy and is just one of many ways to achieve great results.

If we meet a candidate who does not have a technical background but brings motivation, courage and other specialized knowledge, we will almost always want to partner with them, connect them to our ecosystem and jump-start their entrepreneurial journey.

While this may sound encouraging, it doesn’t change the fact that every business needs to go to market with an MVP. Without coding skills, how do you create one?

You should always try to have at least one technical co-founder on your team. It simply allows for faster construction and iteration, easier pivoting, consistency throughout the life of the product, and fewer headaches or incompatibilities down the line.

While we don’t recommend starting a solo business, if you haven’t found a tech co-founder or freelancer to build your MVP, here are four principles that will help you in the meantime.

Principle 1: Non-technical is OK; the non-product is not

People often confuse technical knowledge with product knowledge, but they are not the same. Each requires different backgrounds, team structures, focus areas within the company, and types of questions to ask.

Product knowledge is being able to articulate what your product does at the most basic level. Even if you have no idea how the technology actually works, you should be able to explain what the function is in a clear and concise manner. On the other hand, technical knowledge concerns the construction of the thing itself.

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