To Code or not to code

Today I went to an excellent event held by Jason Ong – Startup Brekkie. Essentially its an event for entrepreneurs or anyone who want to network over breakfast to meet up and share with each other the stuffs that they are working on. Managed to grab Jason for a quick chat about Lunchsparks.

After explaining to him about lunchsparks (and getting him onboard), I was telling him that I am also currently learning how to code right now. He then said that I should focus more on marketing and sales because Lunchsparks needs a lot of that, and I should leave the technical side of the project to my cofounders. Of course, that was a valid reason, but as much as I want to  focus on marketing, when our MVP is not up, there is not much that I could do. Learning basic coding could also allow me to do minor changes instantly to the site should I spot one, without relying on my cofounders if they are busy. It is also a good skill to have.

This is one of the topics that are constantly debated in the startup scene – whether the business guy should pick up basic programming skills to help the business a bit, or he should solely focus on sales and marketing.

A similar question on quora has the following respond from a member, which i think is an excellent answer:

“Perhaps a more appropriate question is, can business people learn how to code (or do they want to learn) at a level that such knowledge would actually be useful. I had to qualify it because I’d hate to be the guy working for somebody who thinks they understand programming when they really don’t– i.e. someone who knows just enough to be dangerous.

There’s a difference between the kind of coding you would do as a student, and the kind you would do when building a professional application. It also takes a degree of experience to recognize the difference.

That being said, business people shouldn’t need to learn how to code, they should learn on a macro level what goes into making good products and how to speak the language of the engineers who make those products. We don’t need the CEO checking in files to SVN… but it would be nice if he/she knew what SVN is and how it fits into the overall scheme of things.”

Of course, the ideal case is – the technical team focuses on the technical side full time, and the business guy focuses on sales and marketing full time. But for the case of Lunchsparks, we are fully committed to the project and has complete confidence in it, but could not commit to it full time. There is still a need to balance work, study, and our project, that’s why things are moving a bit slower right now, but there are good progress. =)

But the question still remains, is it better for the business guy to learn basic programming or to focus solely on sales and marketing?

To me, if I can juggle both, why not? =)



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