Welcome to the Tech for Non-Techies podcast

Lessons from the Netflix C Suite

How do you get to the top of a tech company as a non-technical professional? How can you drive innovation, when you’re not building the technology yourself?

That’s what you’ll learn from this interview with David Wells, ex CFO of Netflix and chair of the board at Wise.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • It’s called tech, or working in tech, but the entire economy is going to be this. So calling it tech is a little bit apocryphal at this stage,” David says.
  • Tech jargon distances people from the actual understanding of the concepts.” Learning core technology concepts is not as hard as the jargon has many believe.
  • Learning what data scientists do and how to work with them is the best skill set to develop for business people in tech. “Data science is the analysis of the lifeblood of the company and you have to ask fundamental insight questions against it. You do not have to build the models yourself, but you are at an advantage if...
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How I transitioned into a career in tech

Lots of smart people want to transition into careers in tech, but don’t know how to get started. If that sounds like you, then listen to how Alexandra Soroko went from finance to tech leadership.

Today, Alexandra is Head of Merchant Sales at Visa in France, and connects fintech companies, banks and Visa’s technologies to help some of the world’s largest companies process payments. In her role, she combines tech knowledge, marketing and finance skills. She started her career at JP Morgan, but didn’t let her lack of tech skills stop her.

Learning notes from this episode:

  • You don’t need to be an engineer, but you need a willingness to understand what lies beneath the surface if you want to succeed in a tech business,” says Alexandra
  • "If we don't have a vision, life just happens to us," says Alexandra. Before embarking on a transition into tech, think about your values and what you want from your next role. Alexandra’s six desires...
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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 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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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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How To Transition Into Venture Capital

A career in venture capital is lucrative and exciting. Yet, it is also hard to get into, and once you're in, staying successful isn't easy.

Sophia Matveeva spoke to Silicon Valley venture investor Nilesh Trivedi principal investor at J Ventures and Chicago Booth MBA.

They talked about what makes a good VC, the different pathways into venture capital and why many early stage VCs aren't as rich as you think. This is an especially useful episode for angel investors, VCs and founders.

Learning notes:

  • Good tech investors have an understanding of technology, but they do not have to have technical backgrounds. Learning how apps, sites and algorithms get built is a key skill, but learning to code is not.
  • Venture capitalists are investors in startups, but they also have to raise money from investors. Investors that invest into VC funds are called Limited Partners, or LPs.
  • VCs have to spend time growing their brand and network because the competition to invest in good startups is fierce.
  • ...
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Intro to Product Management with Facebook's Rags Vadali

In this episode Sophia Matveeva talks to Rags Vadali about what product management is, what PMs do and what you need to get a job in PM.

Rags Vadali has managed product at Google, Facebook and various start-ups, and like Sophia, has an MBA from Chicago Booth. This interview is an excerpt from a PM masterclass Rags taught on Tech for Non-Techies.

Learning points from this episode:

  • A product manager is like the conductor of an orchestra. Conductors don’t play every single instrument and are not the best player, but it is their job to bring the best out of the players to create something together.
  • To get a job in PM, you don’t need to code. You do need to think like a PM: understand who the user is, what problem they are facing and then create solutions.
  • Influence is a key skill for PMs, because the engineers, designers and marketers working on the product don’t report to the PM. However, the PM is ultimately held responsible for the success of the product....
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What Non-Technical Founders Need to Know About Tech

David Segura is a perfect example of how non-techies can thrive in technology. His first venture, Giant Media, was a native video advertising exchange which David sold for millions to an ad tech company backed by TPG & JMI in 2014. Since then David has invested in almost 50 startups, many of which have technology at their core.

In this interview, David talks about what he had to learn about tech as a non-technical founder, whether you need a co-founder and why learning to code is a waste of time.

 

 

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