Welcome to the Tech for Non-Techies podcast

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.

 

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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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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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