Welcome to the Tech for Non-Techies podcast

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...
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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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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: 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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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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What do tech CEOs actually do‪?‬

Whether you’re leading Netflix or a tiny start-up, you're going to develop similar skills. You will need to work with people who have different talents and skills to you, like your CTO or your tech lead.

Your job is to learn to ask the right questions and set clear aims, and then work with your team to help you get there. These are the same skills that great product managers and smart tech investors have mastered too.

Learning notes from this episode:

The tech CEO's job is to work with other people who have different skills to reach a clear business aim. It is not to supervise everything or do everything themselves. 

You can use technology and data to answer all sorts of business questions, such as:

  • Where shall we drill for oil?
  • Should we make more lipstick? 
  • How should we price our product? 
  • Who are our most profitable customers? 

In all of these questions, the aim is to make the business better, not to build tech tools for the sake of it.

In a tech...

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Founder Stories: How I Built IVY, the Social University

 In this episode you'll hear from Beri Meric about how he built a global social platform as a non-technical founder. Beri began his career in banking, has an MBA from Harvard, and is drawn to big picture thinking rather than writing code.

IVY, a global content and community platform, attracts celebrity speakers, works with blue chip clients and has investor backing.

Beri shares how he went from idea to product, how he works with developers and the benefits of being a non-technical founder.

 

Learning notes from this episode:

Beri’s first hire was a designer, not a developer. He found her through via a recommendation. This is the best way to hire product talent.

Beri has never had a technical co-founder, like most of the successful non-technical founders we’ve had on TFNT.

Many people get put off starting work on their venture because they do not have a technical co-founder. We keep seeing that this does not have to get in your way.

Beri has...

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Non-Technical Founders Don’t Need to Cod‪e‬

In this episode, Sophia Matveeva spoke to serial entrepreneur and NASDAQ company board member Alexandra Charters Zubko. Alexandra co-founded Triptease, a global software as a service company with offices in London, New York and Singapore, which has raised $28 million in venture funding.

This is a great episode for non-technical founders and investors, with practical tips on what you really do need to learn to build a tech venture (clue: it’s not coding).

Learning notes

  • As a non-technical founder, you don’t need a technical co-founder, but you do need a web of tech experts to advise you.
  • Learning to admit that you don’t have all the answers is a far more useful skill for non-technical founders than learning to code. “Put those engineering books aside and make sure you’ve got the strength to be vulnerable. That’s the most important thing,” says Alexandra.
  • Working with an outsourced product team can be a great way to build your...
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How To Validate Your Product

It's so tempting to dive into making a product the moment you have an idea. But, this is a sure way to lose time and money.

Before speaking to developers or designers, take a deep dive into the users and the problem you are aiming to solve. This is an ideal opportunity for non-techies to shine: user research and idea validation.

Listen to this episode to learn from Ronan Walsh, founder of Digital Trawler, a digital marketing agency, about how he helps his SaaS clients create better products.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • A product is a solution to a people problem. Before even contacting a product team, take time to investigate the people and the problem.
  • Marketers and designers go through a very similar process to validate the user problem at the start. This is because both are very user focussed.
  • User research is done in two ways: quantitative and qualitative. For qualitative research be careful not to use steering questions to feed answers to the research...
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How I Built A Fintech AI Business As A Non-Technical Founder

Sophia Matveeva spoke to Jung Seok Kung (JS) founder of Aizen, a fintech company which uses AI to support decision making and manage risk for banks. JS is a non-technical founder, who now leads a company that processes 10,000+ algorithms in real time.

If you want to learn what AI is in practice and how it's changing business this episode is for you.

We cover how JS went from spotting a market opportunity to creating an algorithm using a spreadsheet, and the ups and downs of entrepreneurship.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • An algorithm is just a set of instructions that you put into a computer.
  • JS created a prototype of his algorithm using a spreadsheet. The aim of his algorithm was to give out loans to customers. He bought lending data from the Lending Club and tested it against a control group. This means one set of loan applications was assessed by the algorithm and the other was done manually. By doing this, JS proved that his algorithm was making correct decisions....
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