Is it possible to launch a tech startup if you don’t code?

A lot of us non-technical folks will run into this dilemma at some point or another: You have the perfect idea for an app or tech startup, but don’t have the coding expertise to build it. This is a situation that can be bewildering, and it doesn’t help when told about your idea, your confused friends and family clamour: “How? You don’t even code?”.

We’ve been there. It’s easy to feel discouraged about trying to get your startup idea off the ground when your natural inclination is that it is a seemingly impossible feat.

You may find yourself banging your head off your desk asking the question, is this even possible? The short answer. YES.

There are many different approaches you can take if you have a killer tech startup idea, but no in-depth knowledge about coding to build a piece of software. There are several success stories of massive tech companies being founded by founders who couldn’t write a single line of code. Take Airbnb for instance:

Their two non-technical starting co-founders leveraged numerous channels and resources to make their idea a reality, a true example that all you need is entrepreneurial determination and grit. Considering this, they didn’t do it alone. Building and operating a tech startup is a collaborative process. If you want to build your idea, especially with no technical expertise, you will need to work with other people to make it possible. 

Your initial focus with launching your first software-based startup should be building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), an MVP is essentially a first draft of your software that has all the necessary features to consider it ready to test the market. A lot of startup advisers suggest building one of these as fast as possible in order to get your product/service out there so you can re-tool, and build around the market.

We’ve decided to make the impossible seem a whole lot more possible by exploring different ways you can build an MVP without needing to know programming, all while valuing your time and resources.  

Here are a few different ways you can work towards building your idea now and prevent your idea from slipping away: 

 Start networking 

There are plenty of reasons to focus a large chunk of your energy at networking early on in this process. Meeting and talking about your idea with colleagues, industry experts, and anybody who will listen is useful for the following reasons:

 

 

  • It helps you improve the articulation of your idea, thus refining your pitch.
  • Various in-depth discussions with others can help you validate your idea.
  • Networking can help you discover strategic partners such as advisors, co-founders, or investors.

As a non-technical founder, finding a more technically inclined co-founder will probably be at the top of your goals. Leveraging and expanding your current network can allow you to do this faster, let’s consider a few ways you can do this both online and in-person. 

Online Networking 

Finding a co-founder online is very common. With the number of channels to make connections online, the internet is increasingly becoming the most common place to network. Tons of great places exist to gain initial introductions to make strategic connections. Use some of these channels to meet the right people when networking online:

  • LinkedIn is the most popular networking platform online, and a huge (and growing) amount of professionals use it every day to network with others and market their businesses. Try adding people in your area and beyond who have similar business interests, you might even find your co-founder like this if you nurture your connections enough. To maximize effectiveness on LinkedIn, some of the many groups related to tech and engage in discussions
  • There is an assortment of open Slack groups with lively communities of entrepreneurs, product managers, and programmers. A lot of these can be great places to engage with like-minded individuals, get feedback on your startup, and make valuable connections. Check out Slofile to find a pretty large directory for open Slack communities.
  • Shapr is an app designed to match people together based on professional goals and interests, think Tinder but for networking. It’s been out for a few years and has a fairly active community of various types of professionals scattered across a diverse set of industries.

Attending Local Events 

There is definitely something to be said for traditional meet-and-greet style networking in a modern world. Most cities have active communities of event-based networking. A lot of these are targetted at specific industries, and some a bit more broadly targetted at tech, startups and entrepreneurship in general. Check websites like Meetup, Eventbrite, and Facebook Events among others to find events in your city. When searching for a technical co-founder, consider attending meetup events for programmers for a chance to pitch your startup to people who could potentially make great co-founders. 

Can’t find a good event in your area? Try starting one, it’s super easy on all the above-listed platforms and on two out of the three it is free. 

Consider Outsourcing 

While it used to be a luxury reserved for larger companies, outsourcing development has become a lot more accessible for startups and small businesses. It’s never been easier to outsource remotely while maintaining quality and structural control of the process. Using these resources can make a lot of sense for a non-technical founder who wants to build an MVP. 

There’s a lot of options for outsourcing development remotely to software developers that specialize in building MVPs. Finding the right partner for outsourcing development for parts, or all of your project can speed up the progress of your startup, allowing you to focus on growing the business. Outsourcing development might make sense to you if you are on a limited budget and can only hire developers on a contractual basis. It can also make sense if you want to leverage the specialized talent online that might not be easily obtainable locally. 

For smaller aspects of development, such as individual features, bug-fixes, and front-end design consider hiring individual developers on a freelancer marketplace such as Upwork or Freelancer. These make sense on a smaller scale of development, but the quality assurance is mixed, and communication can sometimes be difficult with developers found in these platforms. A cost-friendly option though, these marketplaces can serve budding entrepreneurs well when they are faced with a reduced budget and limited time to release features. 

For more extensive development needs, it makes sense to outsource to software development firms. There are a lot of options for this, ranging from smaller firms to massive software houses that serve enterprise clients. There is a multitude of things to consider when choosing a firm to work with. Factor things such as geographical location into your decision for hiring a firm, it can have a massive impact on price, time-zone similarities, and communication. 

Consider these three types of geographical outsourcing and notice their pros and cons:

Onshoring: Sourcing your developers from within your country. Example: USA -> USA

Pros: No language barriers, similar time zones, and cultural fit. 

Cons: If you live in a country like the USA, Canada, or UK, this can be extremely costly.

 

Nearshoring: Sourcing your developers from a nearby country. Example: USA -> Mexico

Pros: Affordability, similar time zone, and remarkable professionalism.

Cons: Some instances of language or cultural barriers depending on the country. 

 

Offshoring: Sourcing your developers from faraway countries in the eastern hemisphere. Example: USA -> India

Pros: Can be extremely affordable and have fast turnaround time on projects. 

Cons:Difficult communication, language barriers, and opposite timezones

 If you are looking to leverage outsourced technical talent, these are your base options. There are firms that you can work within each of these geographical configurations that can partner with you to build your MVP. We recommend nearshoring for a burgeoning startup, as it balances affordability with quality in a way that is perfect for startups. There are great options for nearshoring such as Trio that balances all the things that matter to entrepreneurs, and understands the startup ecosystem thoroughly. Utilizing firms like this can also aid non-technical founders as they often have exceptional consulting, having the ability to help you plan your project in a way that makes sense to you. Outsourcing in a way that considers your budget and desire for quality is vital if you want to build an amazing MVP, so make sure to plan your project accordingly. See our other article on planning your next remotely outsourced software project for more on this. 

Wrapping Up

Wielding these resources, your software startup is a whole lot more obtainable. Utilizing your network and outsourcing development can make the process of building a tech company a whole lot less complicated, and have established themselves as worthy tools to the most veteran of startup founders. Ensure you balance these resources with the necessity to maintain some form of involvement with the development of your MVP. Even if you are a more business-oriented person, your input can hold as much value as anybody else for driving the development of your product. 

 

 

Jake Oulahen

About

I write about all things tech, up-and-coming startups, and shifting industry

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There are many different approaches you can take if you have a killer tech startup idea, but no in-depth knowledge about coding to build a piece of software. There are several success stories of massive tech companies being founded by founders who couldn’t write a single line of code. Your initial focus with launching your first software-based startup should be building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), an MVP is essentially a first draft of your software that has all the necessary features to consider it ready to test the market. A lot of startup advisers suggest building one of these as fast as possible in order to get your product/service out there so you can re-tool, and build around the market.