Welcome to the Tech for Non-Techies podcast

My story: ambition, tech and the camel incident

Today, I’m doing something a bit different. As our smart community grows, I know that some of you might not know much about me, my story or how I got into this tech thing.

That’s why today, I’m sharing a little bit about me.

I’m sharing this with you so that you can see that the confusion you feel about tech, or the fear that your lack of tech knowledge will be discovered, does not have to be your permanent reality. I want you to see from my example that there are many more opportunities for you than you probably think.

You will also learn what not to wear when riding a camel.

Summary notes from this episode:

  • I always wanted to have a great career, but when I graduated in 2005, tech wasn't what it is today. I started my career in the media, then worked in private equity and became a non-technical founder after my MBA.
  • I planned to use my MBA to transition into a career in tech, but this was harder than I thought. Business school gave me business skills...
Continue Reading...

How I built Make Love Not Porn - with Cindy Gallop

Would you leave a high flying career in advertising to set up an adult content site? Most people wouldn't, but Cindy Gallop is not most people.

After leading one of the world's top advertising agencies, BBH in the United States. Cindy decided to try her hand at tech entrepreneurship. Her venture, Make Love Not Porn, is in the new category of "social sex" and aims to revolutionise how people talk, share and watch sex. 

As a non-technical founder of an adult content business, Cindy had to learn how to work with developers, get users despite being banned by advertisers and create a troll free online environment.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • "You don't have to be a tech person to build something absolutely phenomenal in tech," says Cindy. Instead, you need a strong vision, the right team and the determination to keep going. 
  • "You do not need a technical co-founder from the beginning." In fact, delegating your vision to the tech person simply because they...
Continue Reading...

How to commercialise innovation

Success in tech consists of two parts: making great products and using them to build a business. No matter how brilliant an app or algorithm is, if people do not want to pay for it, it is unlikely to live for long.

This is why all tech innovators need to learn the core skills of commercialising innovation.

Listen to this episode to learn how Salesforce, Starbucks and Xero commercialise their tech products, and so you can apply their lessons too.

The top 3 questions you need to answer to ensure your tech product has business success are:

  1. How will this product help people make more money?
  2. How will this product improve customer experience?
  3. How will this product improve efficiency?

Always focus on the benefits that the product will bring customers, not its features.

Tell Sophia what you’re working on and submit your questions to her on [email protected]

Or reach her on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Listen here...

Continue Reading...

"Don't be afraid of the tech," lessons from a non-technical founder

Nasi Rwigema doesn't have a background in software, but that didn't stop him from building his tech platform: Umwuga, a social network for blue collar workers in South Africa. To his surprise, he found that figuring out what people want is much harder than learning about tech.

Nasi is one of Sophia's students from London Business School. He took her course three years ago, and used his knowledge, network and resilience to build his platform.

If you have an idea for a tech venture, as a founder or a corporate innovator, or you want to invest in tech businesses, but don't have a tech background, this episode is for you.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • "Don't be afraid of the tech and don't let not having a tech person hold you back," says Nasi. "Instead, focus on the customer and the problem you are solving."
  • Show traction from the start. This doesn't necessarily mean revenue or explosive user growth. It means doing whatever you can to solve the problem for the customer.
  • ...
Continue Reading...

Technology is just another business tool. Don’t put it on a pedestal.

It’s easy to put the tech sector on a pedestal, as we’re constantly bombarded with its power and profits. But “technology is just a tool to affect business outcomes,” says prop tech entrepreneur Sebastian Rivas.

Sebastian runs Andes STR, a which uses machine learning algorithms to find property investments for short term rentals. If you want to invest in a property and rent it out on Airbnb, Andes STR will find the investment and manage the rental.

Sebastian started his career in finance, and created a smart plan to break into tech. Listen to this episode to learn how he did it.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Technology is a tool used in business to improve efficiency, user experience and productivity, but it is not an end in itself.
  • Being tech savvy and understanding how technology influences business outcomes is a must have in today’s working environment, almost no matter where you work. Even your coffee shop has an app!
  • “The biggest...
Continue Reading...

From offline business owner to tech entrepreneur

Creating a successful business is a huge feat, but even founders with profitable exits struggle when they first break into tech. Bryan Clayton co-founded Greenpal, the Airbnb for lawn mowing, after he sold his first business. But, his first business was a landscaping company, which meant that even as an experienced entrepreneur, he was a newbie in tech.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Non-technical founders need to know enough to be dangerous before hiring developers. Understand how your business strategy connects to product aims and know how to estimate your development budget.
  • Even badly made first products can show you’re on the right track, as long as you have interest from users. If people want to use your product, but your product sucks, you can improve the product and then scale. If you have a great product and nobody wants to use it, then you have a real problem.
  • The perfect scenario of a tech founder + business savvy founder rarely happens in real life. As long as...
Continue Reading...

Fundraising For Non-Technical Founders

Many investors view non-technical founders as more risky. Sometimes this is plain silly, but there are legitimate investor concerns that non-techie founders will make costly mistakes that technical founders will not.

The answer is not to learn to build the product with your bare hands, but to know enough about tech to have a product strategy and relate it to business goals. 

Learning notes from this episode:

  • “You can be the ripest juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches,” - Dita von Teese. Some investors don't invest in non-technical founders and they never will. There are plenty of those who do. Spend your time on them.
  • Learn how to connect product metrics to business metrics, for example how does user engagement relate to revenue or fundraising goals?
  • Understand key tech concepts to make the right hires and set the right goals, but you do not have to retrain to become a...
Continue Reading...

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...

Continue Reading...

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...
Continue Reading...

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,...
Continue Reading...
1 2
Close

50% Complete

Sign Up

Get insights on what non-techies really need to know about tech to run companies, transition careers and make smart investments.