Welcome to the Tech for Non-Techies podcast

How to work with developers: advice from a CTO

“Come to developers with good research and understand your customer. If you don’t understand your customer, how can you expect the developer to build features for that customer?” says developer Ariana Waller, founder of Wally Tech.

Ariana works with non-technical founders and helps them bring their visions to life. But, many founders want to hire developers too early or make the wrong hires.

Listen to this episode to avoid falling into that common trap.

Learning notes: 

  • Learn about the users and the problem you are solving before you speak to developers.
  • Use no code apps to build solutions before you hire a developer to test your product. This will help you save on development costs and help you test your product before committing to paying for custom code.
  • Good developers will ask you questions about your users and your business model because they want to participate in projects that are likely to succeed. Even if you’re hiring outsourced product...
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AI, visual search & entrepreneurship with Jenny Griffiths MBE

“The biggest lie told in tech is that you that you need to be a coder. I think that being able to understand the user experience behind tech, being able to articulate technology, and being able to get other people excited about it, is what you really need to run a good company,” says Jenny Griffiths MBE, founder of Snap Vision.

Jenny is the founder and CEO of Snap Vision, a visual search company that works with the biggest names in fashion and publishing.

She has been featured on the World's Top 50 Women in Tech by Forbes lists. She was appointed MBE for Services to Innovation in 2015, and in 2019 was awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering's Silver Medal for contributions to UK engineering.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The grass is always greener on the other side. Investors tell technical founders that they’re missing business skills, and non-technical founders that they need tech skills.
  • Snap Vision began as a consumer product, and while the Snap Vision...
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How to make a prototype for your product: The Sprint Method

Making a prototype is a key step in your journey in bringing your tech idea  to life. Begin with UX research, which we covered in last week’s episode.

With your research done, it’s time to move on to making a “fake product," which you will test with real users to see if there is enough demand to invest in creating the real thing.

To do this, Sophia takes you through the Sprint method developed by Google Ventures. Using this method, you can have a tested prototype in just 5 days.

 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The aim of a prototype is test the key assumptions you are making about users and their behaviour.
  • Even the greatest prototype is usually very far from a plan that could be given to developers to code. For example, an app prototype from a sprint usually does not contain screens like the setting screen, where you can manage your account, or designs to reset a forgotten password.
  • Book 5 people to test your prototype. Research...
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How to make a prototype for your product: start with research

The prototyping process is the first step in the product development journey. To go from idea to live app, site or algorithm, you need to test it with target users.

A good prototype can get you funding, but more importantly, it can show you whether the concept is worth pursuing in the first place.

One of the biggest mistakes non-technical founders make is hiring developers before they have a tested prototype. Listen to this episode and avoid this costly mistake.

 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The prototype serves as an illustration of your product: it looks and feels like an app / site, but you don't need to write code to make it.
  • Algorithms in their simplest form can be tested using a spreadsheet .
  • The design process consists of 4 phases: discover, define, develop and deliver
  • To make a prototype, start with research: "Design is not just about how to build a solution, but whether a problem needs solving in the first place. Before working on prototypes and wire frames,...
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How technology moves money around the world

When you make a payment, your money doesn’t reach the destination bank account straight away. Instead, it goes through an underground railroad of payment providers and intermediaries to reach its destination.

In traditional banking, this process is expensive and slow, but new fintech players are changing the system.

In this episode, you’ll hear from Justin Xiao how fintech company Railsbank is solving this problem, and how tiny snippets of code called APIs tie technology companies together.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • APIs are tiny snippets of code that allow one tech product to be integrated into another tech product. For example, each time you see Login with Facebook in a website or an app, that company is using the Facebook API to allow you to login.
  • Railsbank allows companies to move money around just like a bank would, by giving access to its services via its API
  • To learn more about APIs, listen to episode 37: APIs: Why Uber uses Google Maps

 

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Apps have brains too: a quick guide to servers

Every time you send a message on Whatsapp, it goes through the server. Every time you look back at your old Instagram photos, the server brings you your data.

Servers are a key component of almost all apps, and they work like the brains of the operation. Their main task is to enable communication and store data.

If you want to build tech products or invest in them, you need to know this key concept.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • The front end is a computer that speaks to humans. The bit of an app or site you interact with is called a front end. If you can touch it, swipe it or speak to it, it is a front end. 

  • The front end is like your sensory organs: eyes, ears and mouth.
  • The back end (the server side) is the bit of the app that you cannot interact with yourself: it is a computer that only talks to computers.

  • The server is the brain of your operation: it enables communication and stores data. 

  

 

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The new fashion for designer CEOs

career strategy ux design Apr 28, 2021

The hemlines for skirts are not the only thing to be dictated by fashion. So is the experience of tech executives.

The fashion for developers turned CEOs like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg is giving way to designers at the helm. The founders of Airbnb and Snap were designers not developers.

Good design is always focused on the user. The human not the code is what matters.

This is an opportunity for non-techies to shine in tech, as founders, innovators and investors.

 

Learning notes from this episode:

 

  • The new breed of tech successes today value people who have a strong understanding of the user, not only engineering. 
  • Many of the technologies underlying the products we use today are not as frontier as they used to be. This means that products compete on their usability, not just on functionality.
  • Learn to think like a designer researching an idea. Study people. Understand what they want. Once you do that, then you can think of products to build and find people to...
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What's technical debt and why should non-techies care?

If code gets written, that usually means that there's technical debt. If it isn't dealt with regularly, the product doesn't work properly, engineers leave and you'll have a rebellion on your hands.

In this episode, you'll learn from Alexandre Omeyer, founder of Stepsize, the core concepts that non-technies need to know about technical debt.

This is must know concept for founders, product managers and smart investors.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Technical debt is the mess that gets left over from writing code and should be regularly cleaned up in order for the engineering team to work properly.
  • Alexandre suggests thinking of the tech development process like a restaurant kitchen. Having spillage and potato peels dropping on the floor is a normal part of the cooking process. But if you do not have a regimen to clean up, you will end up with a filthy kitchen that will affect your food (i.e. your product) and your customers will get sick.
  • Non-techies need to know that technical...
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How To Measure Success In Your Produc‪t‬

If you don’t where you’re going, you’re not going to get there. Having a key goal in your product means you can lead a team, track your progress and invest wisely. 

Whether you're funding a product or building one, listen to this episode to learn how to set your product goal.

Key learning notes from this episode:

  • A product is a solution to a problem someone is experiencing. The goal of your product is to solve that problem.  
  • Different products focus on different metrics, because they are solving different problems. For example, Airbnb measures the number of nights booked, but Facebook focusses on daily active users. 
  • Product goals are not the same as business goals. Business goals relate to money, product goals relate to solving a problem. It is then up to you to figure out how to make money from solving the problem, and thus link product metrics to business metrics.

 

If you want to transition into tech, but you are not...

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From tech entrepreneurship to venture capital

Venture capital is usually not somebody's first job. It is a career people transition into, and one of the best ways to prepare is by working in a start-up.

In this episode, you'll hear from VC James Sore, Principal at SuperSeed ventures, about how he transitioned into tech entrepreneurship and then investing. You will also learn about equity crowdfunding and syndicate investing.

If you want to raise money for a start-up or invest in one, this episode is for you.

 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Venture capitalists have three main jobs: sourcing deals and investing, raising capital for their own funds, and helping the start-ups in their portfolio.
  • Early stage investing, like early stage start-ups, is risky. In the early stages, companies are still finding structure and product market fit. This makes them the right environment for some people, but completely wrong for others. Knowing yourself and where you thrive is important to get this right. 
  • Venture...
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