How to add value as a non technical cofounder.
- Bring customer perspective – if the technical folks won’t leave the building to talk to users / customers, you should. Do interviews / meetups / surveys / anything else to get real data on pain points / UX / competition and then turn that into product vision / features that the team can collaborate on. These things are just as important as writing good code, and are often highly complementary to a technical co-founder who might be a phenomenal architect and hacker, but has a hard time playing the role of the average user
- Be the competitive intel / Biz Dev guy – if you are out in the ecosystem, you’ll get very useful data on what your competitors are doing and get wind of partnership opportunities. All of those have strategic and product path implications that can make or break the early days.
- SELL!! – if you’re doing 1 and 2 well, this part should flow pretty naturally. Use those conversations to uncover and pursue revenue opps. Remeber, coders cant code if the business guys don’t keep the lights on. Focus on what you are really good at and grow yourself in areas that will counteract / compliment your more technical co-founder. As your business grows you will have departments emerge like Sales, Marketing, Public Relations, HR, Customer Service, etc. Let your technical Co-Founder handle engineering…you start building out the rest.
- Finance / Admin – less glamorous (unless you are helping / driving fund-raising) but pretty critical to keeping everyone happy / focused and running on time. Consider this an “unsung hero” role
- Morale – with everyone working at full-tilt, its easy to forget about carving out time for beers / genuinely bonding as a team. But making that investment pays HUGE dividends on a start-up roller-coaster, so lead the charge.
- Product Management – product management is the biggest asset you can bring to the team. You should seek to understand what specific features would most effectively increase retention, virality, monetization for your unique user base and allocate your development resources accordingly. Product management is surpassing business development in importance as the consumers are overwhelmed with more choices and the success of those products depends more upon designing them to be organically viral, addicting and profitable, and less upon marketing or business development. Start working on the follow through swing. This relates to the life cycle of the product. Make sure the design, user experience, and vision of the product is on point. Next, start working on your decks, marketing materials, go to business strategy, strategic alliances, pre-selected hires, etc so that as the product is ready for release you have your system built around that to keep the momentum going so your company can actually monetize