- Manual Process - validate your idea before you spend any money
- Off the shelf - streamline your manual process with off the shelf software pacakges
- Digital Agency - launch a simple MVP that will get you to the next stage
- External Team - develop a bespoke solution targets specifically to your customer needs
The obsession some people have in finding a technical co-founder is bordering on insanity. Many people use it as an excuse as to why they haven't launched. The number of times we hear people lament that they've 'got all the mock-ups ready' we just need someone technical on board. In reality, you don't need someone technical on board, to begin with. You can launch an MVP without being technical. There are plenty of ways of doing it. Here are a few ideas:
Have you validated your idea in a manual way yet? Will an excel spreadsheet and a phone number work? Thinking of making an app that helps people get the lawn mowed? Go the manual route first, validate the market and then look at technical options.
Off the shelf
Chances are the problem you're solving is not unique, something off the shelf will fit most of your needs. You'll be able to glue together what you need from existing solutions. Things like shopify and WooCommerce can get you up and running really fast. You can use things like hosted wordpress or squarespace. Buy a theme from themeforest, put together an email list with AWeber or MailChimp. But most importantly focus on building your business rather than the tech.
Outsource to a Digital Agency
Many founders shun digital agencies, but they shouldn't. You can get an MVP put together fairly cheaply. You know that it will actually happen and will have something to talk about. You'll get a good level of collaboration from them, you are the client after all. Your MVP will look sexy, digital agencies have designers on hand to make your site look great. If you are looking for something with a known solution that needs customizing, like an e-commerce site, then an agency can be a good way to go. The reality is that you are not starting a tech company, you're starting a small business that needs some technical business support.
There's a massive amount of freelance developers and designers out there available for hire at an hourly rate. Just check out places like upwork.com and fiverr.com. Now there are a lot of things to watch out for when using an offshore freelancer. The quality ranges massively, you'll spend a lot of time travelling through references and portfolio pieces, even then you just don't know until you get started. But at $10-$50 per hour maybe you can take the risk. The other problem is that you can spend huge amounts of time writing specifications and requirements. To the point where you may as well have written the code yourself. You also end up becoming a full-time tester and QA. You'll check everything that gets done and spend more time specifying that in this particular scenario such and such should happen. Trust is also a problem, did that really take 8 hours to do? You need someone to validate what's been done and sanity check the direction your team is taking, maybe you need an interim CTO?