Welcome to the Tech for Non-Techies podcast

Why the VC market is changing and how to succeed it

More money is entering venture capital today than ever before. This means more career opportunities for investors, and funding options for founders.

In this episode, you'll hear from Check Warner, parter at Ada's Ventures, and co-Founder of Diversity VC. Check talks about her career transition from advertising to VC, how the venture industry is changing and how that affects founders.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Networking is a key part of a VC's job. If this is a career you want, build your network with founders, other VCs and larger funds that invest in venture.
  • To be a successful tech VC, you do need to learn how to speak tech, but you definitely don't need to be a coder yourself.
  • More money is entering the VC market and more funds are being set up. VC funds are often small, unlike other firms in the financing market. 
  • The widening VC market and the growth of no code tools means more opportunities for non-technical founders to succeed. 

 

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What on Earth is growth hacking?

Why do some products go viral and others die a quiet death? The answer lies in growth hacking. 

Growth hacking is a type of marketing that combines working on the product, which is an inside job, and working on promotion, which is an outside job. It is a new discipline born with the tech sector, and growing in popularity today.

Learning notes from this episode:

    • The Dropbox growth hacking case study is still seen as the Holy Grail in the sector. The team created a double referral program to grow 3900% in just 15 months.
    • A growth hacking effort is always done by a multi-disciplinary team, and will often involve a product manager, a designer, a community manager, engineers, someone with a marketing or PR background, and maybe a data scientist.

    • Traditional marketing is outside facing: billboards, TV ads and articles in the press.  Growth hacking is different because it looks at the inside of the product, and adjusts it to grow users and revenue.

    • PR...
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How to pivot your way to success

Neither life nor business are linear. Startups often pivot their business models several times to find product market fit, just as we try out different careers.

In this episode, you’ll hear from Hannah Feldman, the CEO and co-founder of Kidadl, which helps families do fun and useful things with their kids.

Hannah is a non-technical founder of a digital business. She began her career as a corporate lawyer, then worked in banking, and then with Dragon Den’s James Caan before transitioning into tech entrepreneurship.

Her company, Kidadl also went through pivots before it found product market fit during the Covid shutdowns. Whether you want to build a business or transition into a career in tech, this is a great episode to learn from.

Learning notes from this episode: 

  • “The business strategies employed by highly successful start-ups and the career strategies employed by highly successful individuals are strikingly similar," Reid Hoffman.
  • Most startups have...
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How to have a great career in tech, lessons from Reid Hoffman

career strategy Jul 28, 2021

“The business strategies employed by highly successful start-ups and the career strategies employed by highly successful individuals are strikingly similar," says Reid Hoffman in his book The Startup of You.

If you want to have a great career in tech as non-techie, but don’t know how to get started, this episode is for you.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Hoffman says we all have 3 puzzle pieces in our careers: our assets, our aspirations & values and market realities.
  • Plan your career 2 steps ahead. For example, if you work in finance and your aim is to get into product management, it’s unlikely you’ll just leap from one to the other. This is going to require an interim step, like volunteering with a start-up on weekends.
  • Invest in learning transferable digital skills. If you learn the basics of how apps, sites and algorithms get made, and when tech decisions overlap with business decisions, so many opportunities will open up to you.

 

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How space tech impacts us all

Space tech developments aren’t just a battle between middle aged billionaires. Nor is it a Cold War leftover. 

The technologies we use every day to watch TV and hail a taxi rely on connections in space. As the cost of space tech falls, and VC investment in the sector rises, the opportunities for business and consumer innovation open up.

Listen to this episode with Dr James Lambert, Head of Operations at private space tech company Pulsar Fusion, to get an overview of this fascinating industry.

Learning notes:

  • The cost of getting satellites into space is falling, which means more companies are using space technology.
  • Space tech is particularly useful to scan images of the Earth to answer specific questions, such as: where shall we mine for gold?
  • The companies that can reduce the cost of getting satellites into space or connecting space hardware with Earth level software, are those getting the most interest from investors today.
  • Innovations by private space companies,...
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What data scientists do and how to work with them

Big data and predictive analytics can help you make profits, sell clothes and strike oil. But, unless you know how to ask data scientists the right questions and then use their answers, data are just a collection of meaningless facts.

Listen to this episode to learn what data scientists do and how to work with them.

 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Every senior level professional today has to learn to speak tech: knowing the concepts of how digital products get made is now basic literacy.
  • Working with data scientists can be broken down into three steps: 1) ask the right question, 2) get insight 3) take action based on the insight.
  • Predictive analytics are based on past data, which does not make predictions future proof and does not take account of shocks to the system.

 

Enroll in How To Speak Tech For Leaders by 26 July 2021.

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How I built a party platform

Put on your party pants! In this episode, you'll hear from Julie Novack, the CEO & non-technical co-founder of PartySlate. PartySlate is a platform that connects event professionals to people planning events.

During the pandemic, PartySlate had to quickly reinvent its offering, but managed to end 2020 with no revenue loss. This is a great story in about resilience, leadership and giving users what they want.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Julie spent a year researching Houzz, a platform for interior designers, to get inspiration for PartySlate. If a company is doing something similar to you, but for different users, study them.
  • PartySlate's content drives users to discover the platform and get inspired. This means that PartySlate will be front of mind when the user is ready to book an event. This is a great example of content marketing.
  • PartySlate makes money by charging event professionals for premium listings. For this, they need to understand those...
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The hidden cost of cat videos

tech terms explained Jun 30, 2021

Storing stuff costs money, this is why it’s good to look in the back of the cupboard and decide whether you really need all those spices you bought 5 years ago.

This is the same with data stored by tech companies. Companies have to pay to store data on servers. Google pays to keep all of those cat videos on YouTube. 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Storing data costs money and most companies rent server storage space from Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure.
  • If you’re going to store data, you need to know how you’re going to make money out of it.
  • Advertising isn’t the only way to make money out of data. You could aggregate the data into reports and sell them as industry insights.
  • Storing data on how people use your product can help you improve your product.
  • If you don’t have a plan for how to use the data you pay to store, you’re a hoarder and that’s not a good strategy.

 

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Introduction to Venture Capital

A robust venture capital industry is one of the pillars of the today's tech boom, because it provides the funding for new companies to grow. But "venture capital is not a job for everyone," says venture investor Dr Itxaso del Palacio in this week's episode.

Itxaso is a leading venture capitalist. She launched Microsoft Ventures in Europe and is Partner at Notion Capital today. She also teaches Entrepreneurial Finance at the MSc Technology Entrepreneurship at University College London.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • "Venture capital is mostly transactional. Founders operate the companies, and we can advise and suggest what to do but we don't operate the companies," says Itxaso.
  • Corporate venture arms are very different to VC funds and the incentives within them differ. For example, people in traditional VCs benefit financially if a company they invest in becomes a unicorn. This is often not the case in corporate venture divisions.
  • People do not usually begin...
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The career secret all tech innovators know

Most start-ups fail, but founders and investors can still use this for career success. Learning how tech products get made and how the companies behind them make money, open so many doors to interesting and lucrative opportunities. In fact, many product managers and venture capitalists have transitioned into these jobs via start-ups.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Almost every company is now a tech company, so knowing how tech products get built and how they make money is THE most useful transferable skill in today’s economy
  • If you’re thinking of launching a venture, you do need to be aware that it might not work out. But, ask yourself what could I do if the venture failed? Would that be better or worse than what I was doing before? I most cases, the answer is yes.
  • Learning these skills does not mean getting an MBA or investing thousands as an inexperienced angel investor.

You can learn by listening to this podcast, reading books about the industry, and most...

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