Building Digital Products as a Non Tech Founder

Written By
Rakhi Sethi
Last updated at April 21, 2022
Building Digital Products as a Non Tech Founder

While it is true that most of the successful startups today are headed by people with technical backgrounds, it doesn’t have to hold you back from launching your very own startup. Even though non-technical founders are in the minority, they still receive a lot of attention from both investors and the media. Perhaps this is because it’s not unusual to hear from a VC that you can only talk about funding if you have a technical co-founder?


Solo or with a partner?


If you want to start on your own and take care of both the company development as well as product development, you would have to be like Steve Jobs. In other words, quite a rare breed. Keeping yourself focused on running the company and building a tech product may take you on a rollercoaster ride a lot of early founders experience when they start.



Building Digital Products as a Non Tech Founder




Focus on the mechanics of your product before you start sketching the design. It’s crucial to discuss algorithms, backend logic, and overall app experience with an engineering partner at the early stages of your startup. Why? Because when the sun goes down, you want to know the business and the solution in and out.


Specialists in their Fields


Product development consists of several major elements including finance, marketing, sales, and leadership. As a non-tech founder, you don’t have to know how to code to get started. Instead, learn alternate skills including business development.


You have the knowledge and expertise in your industry. You know what does and doesn’t work in your particular niche or market. This makes you a valuable asset to any company trying to serve that market. It’s also likely that you already have contacts in your industry that can help you with feedback, testing, and more.


What can you do as a non-technical founder?



A lot has been said about the importance of market validation but many startup founders fail to grasp it. To avoid a fiasco during product development, your best bet is to execute a prototype first.



research work to build digital product


The research itself does not require any coding skills but you can use it as a reference point for potential vendors, partners, and investors.


What to pay attention to before you even think of technical details?


1. The pain you want to ease (needs discovery).

2. The business model (monetization model research).

3. The people who will use your product (target group research).

4. The solutions already on the market (competition research).


Validate and ask for an opinion


Research by CB Insights shows that 42% of startup failures are due to a lack of market need. They failed because they didn’t validate the idea on the market before they put money into building their product. In case you don’t have any experience with business validation, turn to a tech partner who will advise you which validation method would fit your product best.


Find your tech partner


As a non-tech founder, you will get to a point in product development when you will have to discuss technical details such as the best technical stack, intuitive UX design, or the optimal development process. It’s good you think of it in advance and look for an agile partner who will support your decision-making process.




find your tech partner


In-house partnership


It is a widely recommended practice to start the product development with just two individuals. One of them is responsible for the vision and the roadmap, and the other one is responsible for coding and testing. The UX takes a backseat in this approach, which has some associated risks.

The bottom line:

Find a technical co-founder only when you feel things “click” between the two of you and when you have a legal advisor to prepare a partnership agreement for you.


External partnership


How to start building a digital product when you are not a technology specialist? Hiring the entire team and outsourcing all the tasks to developers is an easy solution since it allows you to focus on product development only. This approach is particularly good for non-tech founders.

The bottom line:

If you want to go far, take the entire team. Test, prototype, and then decide on the next steps. You’ll save time on making bad decisions.


Mixed partnership


Yep, you’ve already guessed right. The easiest way to start a project on your own is by hiring an external team to augment your existing one. So instead of having all the abilities in your in-house team, you’ll have the skills distributed among various specialist teams.

The bottom line:

Partnerships make you stronger from the beginning. They’re also a flexible way of scaling your team up and down according to your current needs.


Remember UX


To create the best digital product, you need to combine design and user experience with data analysis. Designers need to focus on more than just aesthetics. They need to understand how people interact with their products, why they make certain choices over others, and what (and who) is most important. We merge design and UX with user testing to create the best digital products, from prototypes to MVPs.


Be agile


Digital product development is a process that starts with the creation of prototypes, which are essentially clickable trailers of your application. They allow you to test your ideas and see how users react before making any significant investments in coding.


You don’t need to code to build a product. You have to understand what users need and create the right product for them. This is achieved by testing the assumptions about your product with real people.


Key takeaways


The success of so many startups run by non-technical founders proves that coding is only one of a whole variety of skills necessary to build digital products. What you need in the first place is innovation and a good plan you can start with. An experienced tech partner will help you make technical decisions and solve technical nuances. They will provide human resources to your team when needed and will assess the competencies you need in your team at a certain point in time


If you are a non-technical founder, it makes sense to learn from the experts and grow your knowledge by going through the process. The same applies to your product - start small, reach out to an experienced team, validate your idea together and have a plan for success.


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