(Note: In this post I’m talking specifically about tech startups, and especially non-sales-driven tech startups)
Clever landing page tests and interviews can tell you whether an idea is bad, but not whether it will work. There’s still a big leap from “problem exists” to a product that delights while fitting into someones life and being able to attract new users.
It’s simply too expensive to outsource your way through the initial uncertainty. Each additional product tweaks are too painful. It’s a slow bleed.
If you want to get into startups and you don’t already know programmers who enjoy working with you, then I seriously suggest you start learning to program immediately. It’s not as bad as it sounds.
The basic level of code literacy (getting a webpage to exist and look roughly how you intended) is within reach in a couple weeks. Getting it to do stuff (e.g. offering features beyond showing text, pictures & videos) will take a couple months. This is assuming you take on learning as a serious–but part time–endeavour.
That might seem like a lot of work. However, it will take far more than a couple month’s worth of time to find a technical cofounder if you don’t already know people. And it will take more than a couple month’s savings to pay someone else to get you through that first bit.
If you’re sincere about getting into startups, start learning to code today. It will pay dividends.
You don’t need to go back to school. Use free online tutorials &andwork toward building concrete projects. I suggest the following:
- Learn enough html/css to build a personal portfolio site. Make it look nice.
- Start using github and put your code there.
- Buy a domain name and a hosting service and put your portfolio up at a real address, using git.
- Attach google analytics to your site.
- Learn enough python and Google Appengine to build your own simple blogging system. Add it to your portfolio site. You should be able to log in and write posts which will appear on your blog page.
- Blog for a while, adding features to your blog system as you decide you need them.
That’s it. 90% of programming is figuring out that you can google the answer to just about every problem (and having a broad idea of what you might be looking for). If you’ve successfully learned that much, you should be able to start chipping away at most webapp ideas. Now you can bootstrap.
(Ff you’re in London, I’m helping to host a founder-centric series of workshops for new founders. Come work on your company with us!)