Welcome to the Tech for Non-Techies podcast

Do this before hiring developers

Money isn’t enough to hire the best product teams. If you want to hire great people to build your product, you need to convince them that your vision has potential. To do this, techies and non-techies alike need to come prepared.

Learning notes:

  • A product is a solution to a problem someone is experiencing. You use Uber to get from A to B, not because you want to use an app.
  • Great outsourced product teams like the Evil Martians will question your assumptions and want to validate your idea. If a product team doesn’t ask you any questions and just wants to take your money, they are probably not very good, and so you should not work with them.
  • To prepare to work with a great product team, research the problem you are solving and your target users. This research will also be useful if you are fundraising or applying for accelerators.
  • User and problem research is also relevant if you want to get a job in a tech business, invest in tech or lead digital transformation. This...
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Break Into Tech: three examples of successful career transitions

The number of technology oriented jobs is predicted to rise to 190 million in 2025, according to Microsoft. But, if you're a non-techie, how do you get in on that?

In this episode, you'll hear how three people transitioned into successful careers and tech, and learn how to apply their tactics to your career transformation.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • To succeed in tech as a non-techie, you need to learn core technology concepts and understand how they translate to business outcomes and user needs. You do not need to retrain as a coder.
  • There are more ways to be part of the tech boom than you think. For example, if you're a marketing expert, you could run a marketing company, which only serves tech clients. 
  • Transitions into tech often have an interim step, like volunteering for a start-up or helping a product team do user feedback. You can use this interim step to build your network, learn about new opportunities and add a tech position to your LinkedIn profile.
  • Listen...
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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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How I used accelerators to build a tech business

Andi Govindia has gone through three accelerators on her start-up journey. This helped her build a business model, find co-founders and get her first major clients.

Andi leads Riviter, a visual search company that uses AI to predict fashion and beauty trends, and counts L'Oreal amongst its clients.  

If you’re interested in entrepreneurship and how non-technical founders can succeed in tech, this one is for you.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Use Effectual Logic: ask yourself what the simplest and laziest way is for you to solve a problem. The simplest way is often imperfect, but results matter more than perfection.
  • If you are applying for accelerators, link their speciality to your current needs. Andi participated in Chicago Booth's New Venture Challenge, Plug & Play and Founders Factory. Each accelerator has different strengths, and Andi used them for different purposes.
  • Andi collaborated with her co-founders for a year before they...
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How To Hire Product Teams: Outsourcing vs In-House

Hiring developers and designers to build your tech product is always risky, because as a non-techie, you're hiring people to do things you don't know how to do.

Is outsourcing more risky because you're far away from the team? Or is in-house more risky, simply because it usually costs more? Listen to this episode to find out.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • Always get employees and contractors working on your products to sign over the Intellectual Property to the company. If a person or a firm is refusing to sign an IP Agreement, this is a bright red flag.
  • In the early stages of product development, your job is to test ideas, get an MVP out there and get initial traction. The focus should be on doing this as quickly and cheaply as possible, which often means working with an outsourced product studio in a cheaper geography.
  • After you've proven market need, you can hire in-house to scale the product.
  • Right at the start of product development, you don't know what tech...
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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 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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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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How to use No Code apps to build your first product

No code tools are a great way to build your first product, get it into users' hands and see if there is a business case. Once you've done that, you know what to invest in and why.

But, they are not a long term solution for many products. Listen to this episode what the no code movement is, how you can use no code tools to build your first product and when you have to graduate to building your own tech.

 Learning notes from this episode:

  • The no code movement is the idea that you can build a digital product using existing tools, which you assemble together without writing any of your own code. It includes everything from website and app builders like Bubble, to tools that automate e-commerce processes and marketing, like Mailchimp.
  • Building a simple solution using tools that are already out there, means that you can get it into users’ hands, get feedback and see if there is a business case. Successful non-technical founders do this before raising...
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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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