Yeah… I’m one of those. The non-techy who wants to build a SaaS product.
As a non-tech co-founder I’ve consistently struggled to build my ideas- because they’re usually tech ideas – and yes I’ve had too many ideas. My last start up was somewhat of a success story but it wasn’t built into a fully fledged SaaS like I wanted.
Coincidentally while working on that mediocre of a successful start up, I struck another problem that I wanted to solve. Unfortunately for me, the underlying solution was… (drum roll) …a SaaS idea too! Hmmm… if only I know how to code!
It turns out the universe does work in mysterious ways and if you ask for it enough times, maybe it does listen.
Through posting a quick job ad for a developer on Upwork for my previous startup, one dude (my-now co-founder) responded. But rather than discussing the start up I was working on, we were quickly talking about my next shiny new object. This turned out to be our aim to build the world’s simplest video editor for entrepreneurs and content creators. Edit videos using transcripts and spin video content into podcasts and blogs i.e. Imvidu.
One thing led to another, and before I knew it, that dude became my co-founder. For me this alone is a huge milestone. Several reasons for this.
One, I really do believe that we live in truly ‘interdependent’ societies and we need to learn to operate that way to be successful. Finding a co-founder has always been a piece of the puzzle I’ve missed as a non-tech founder. But it’s also part of my belief in operating interdependently.
So, before you click back or close the browser or just lazily fall asleep while reading this article, here are some quick lessons I’ve learnt, not only from this experience, but from my past failures (in the hope that you will some day avoid situations you don’t need to be in).
So, some quick lessons:
- Don’t be afraid to share your ideas – especially if you’re the non-techy. Tech guys have heard them all. And trust me no one’s going to copy your idea.
- Build whatever YOU can – for me, I learnt a bit of coding to hack together something for my previous startup. I also learnt how to use AdobeXD and InvisionApp – this means I’m the UI/UX guys for the start up now. If you’re the non-techy- build wire frames, mock ups, prototypes, even hack together something using a no-code solution if you can. Trust me, you’ll have more ears listening to you and more opportunities.
- Connect with technical engineers where technical engineers hang out – Stack overflow is great, LinkedIn is great – and it helped me have a lot of conversations with potential co-founders. For me although luck was the reason I connected with my co-founder, but it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t bring the other points to life.
- Build your audience – if I couldn’t build the product I was going to build an audience. Before I formed the partnership I had roughly 50 beta users signed up to the idea. People will take you more seriously if you bring value above and beyond an idea.
- Discuss everything including future co-founders and partnership arrangements. Leave nothing barred. Communication is like blood for an organization – it’s just as relevant between co-founders and for start ups. Good communication is also a strong value I personally believe in and expect from the people I work with.
My co-founder and I have never met in person (different countries). So we have a daily catch up and have been having one for the last two months.
Make sure you clearly define your roles and responsibilities, make sure you talk about the partnership, align on exit strategies, and understand where you want to take the business. It was extremely important for us to align ourselves early and quickly – especially as we hadn’t met before. I came across a template that has 50 questions to ask a co-founder – that was an amazing tool to open up communication.
- Create a ‘promises‘ document that you can review monthly. We’ve done the same, in it we’ve listed promises we’ve made to each other. This helps us (for now at least) remain authentic with each other, while communicating openly, and creating more transparency.
- Discuss your equity now and discuss the things that are hard to discuss– Okay, so I’m just repeating my self here. But I can’t say this enough times. Be open with your communication – talk about salary, money, and all the hard things. What if you don’t get along? what if the business fails? how long can you work without money? don’t just assume stuff – bring it to the table and talk about it.
It’s very early for us, and who knows what could happen. But here’s to new beginnings – wish us luck! And pleaaase share your experience with me! I’d love to be inspired by your exprience.