Building in Public January 18, 2021

Yeah... I'm the guy that has no tech skills BUT am building a tech business

Jag @Jajaygrow

Yeah... I'm one of those. The non-techy who wants to build a SaaS product.

As a non-tech co-founder I've consistently struggled to build my ideas- and yes I've had too many ideas. My last start up was somewhat of a success story but it wasn't built into a fully fledged SaaS like I wanted.

Coincidentally while working on that start up, I struck another problem that I wanted to solve. Unfortunately for me, the underlying solution was a Saas too. Hmmm... if only I know how to code!

However, the universe does work in mysterious ways and if you ask for it enough times, maybe it does listen.

Through posting a quick job ad for a developer on Upwork for my previous startup, one guy (my-now co-founder) responded. Before I knew it, rather than discussing the start up I was working on, we were quickly talking about my other idea.

One thing led to another, and before I knew it, he became my co-founder. I wanted to start by first IH post with this milestone. For me it's huge. I really do believe that we live in truly 'interdependent' societies and we need to learn to operate that way to be successful. Finding a co-founder has always been a piece of the puzzle I've missed.

I just wanted to share this major milestone for me. Here are some quick lessons:

  • Don't be afraid to share your ideas - especially if you're the non-techy. Tech guys have heard them all. And trust me no one's going to copy your idea.

  • Build WHATEVER you can - for me, I learnt a bit of coding to hack together something for my previous startup. I also learnt how to use AdobeXD and InvisionApp - this means I'm the UI/UX guys for the start up now. If you're the non-techy- build wireframes, mockups, prototypes, even hack together something using a no-code solution if you can. Trust me, you'll have more ears listening to you and more opportunities.

  • Build your audience - if I couldn't build the product I was going to build an audience. Before I formed the partnership I had roughly 50 beta users signed up to the idea. People will take you more seriously if you bring value above and beyond an idea.

  • Co-founders and partnerships- make sure you discuss EVERYTHING. Communication is like blood for an organization - it's just as relevant between co-founders. Good communication is also a strong value I personally hold and expect from the people I work with.
    My co-founder and I have never met in person - different countries. So we have a daily catchup and have been having one for the last two months.
    Make sure you clearly define your roles and responsibilities, make sure you talk about the partnership, align on exit strategies, and understand where you want to take the business. It was extremely important for us to align ourselves early and quickly - especially as we hadn't met before. I came across a template that has 50 questions to ask a co-founder - that was an amazing tool to open up communication.
    I also have a 'promises' document which we will review monthly. These are just promises we've made to each other- helping solve challenges quickly as they arise.

  • Discuss your equity now and discuss the things that are hard to discuss- this relates to the above and I just want to drive the point further. Be open with your communication - talk about salary, money, and all the hard things. What if you don't get along? what if the business fails? how long can you work without money? don't just assume stuff - bring it to the table and talk about it.

So that's it for now. I won't talk about the new start up right now because we've literally only started building it and it'll make for an exiting read next time! I look forward to sharing my journey and lessons I've learnt from my previous projects.

It's very early for us, and who knows what could happen. But here's to new beginnings - wish us luck!

  1. 3

    Congrats and good luck! Can you share the 50 questions template?

    1. 2

      Hey, please see my comment :)


  2. 1

    Here's the 50 Questions to Ask a Cofounder:

    It was shared to me by a LinkedIn contact. Great little exercise - even just for yourself alone.

  3. 1

    Congrats and good luck!
    I do have to say that reading between the lines, you seem to have painted an insanely rosy picture. I'm not sure if reality will concur. More to the point - you'll only find out for sure who your co-founder truly is when things will get tough.

    On a different note: do you actually have a company, is he a shareholder, can you actually kick him out if he doesn't live to expectations?

    1. 2

      Yes I agree, very rosy! But it's probably because I like to prepare for the worst but still hope for the best. It plays into the over communication point I made above also.
      There are so many variables and risks so it's difficult to say if it will work out. We've discussed as many fail scenarios as possible already and what our steps to mitigate those risks are - including if we don't like working with each other :)
      He will be a shareholder in the company, yes I can decrease his share, or kick him out if he doesn't live to expectations and I can increase vesting if he meets expectations.
      We also looked at the slicing pie model which is worth reading into. However we decided to go with traditional cliff and vesting.

      1. 1

        Nice and congrats again! Seems you did take quite a few scenarios into account. Definitely hope it works out. Good luck!

  4. 1

    Really great insights! This resonated with me heavily since I’m also a non-technical founder. I also do all the UI/UX designs too. What’s helped you the most with community building? Also, do you mind sharing that template you found on 50 questions to ask a co-founder?

    1. 1

      Thanks! Yes it's a struggle and I wish I'd learnt how to code.
      I haven't really started building the community yet. For my previous startup I had about 300 relevant users in my target market signed up to a facebook page. For this one, I also got my beta users from facebook groups.

      I'll share the template if I can edit my post.

      1. 1

        @Jajaygrow That's a really good amount of users for your beta! How were you able to recruit them from FB pages? Every time I try doing that either on FB or Reddit, I'm also flagged for it for sponsoring my business. Did you take a different approach?

        1. 2

          I posted into different groups. Some are hit and miss, some take down your post and some - you'll get traction.

          Timing, messaging and approach all matter.

          Some facebook groups have certain days they allow promotional type of posts. I've never tried it there as I feel your link just get's lost in the 100 other links posted on that day.

          Reddit is a different beast entirely. You really need to be part of the community and understand how reddit works. Reddit communities can be brutal if you're trying to just promote your business. If your product can help others out significantly, then help out with the knowledge first - this comes from prior experience and not this start up.

          1. 1

            Really great insights, thank you @Jajaygrow for explaining. I'll give it another go and see what I can do.

      2. 1

        Having said that though, it's also a blessing in disguise. A lot of tech founders get their hands dirty with coding too quickly without thinking about the business model, how to get users or how to generate revenues. I came across one tech founder who'd been working on a product for nearly 2 years and was just building - no users, no feedback. As a non-techy this is the value we can provide up front and early on.

  5. 1

    Good insights. Thanks for sharing & all the best with your new idea!

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