If you are a techie and looking to partner with a good non-tech founder for your venture, hustle. There are certain qualities and traits to look for. Like businesses, there are only two types of non-tech founders: successful and non-successful!
Always deliver more than expectedLarry Page
Having done dozens of side projects and collaborate with multiple non-tech and tech (web development in this context). I have come to an understanding of what to expect from a good non-tech founder.
Force of Nature
When I refer to this term, I don’t mean the movie but a reference to the four fundamental forces of Physics: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. Your non-tech founder needs to be a force of nature to make it happen.
If you are building things out, you want to be with someone who will persevere through really difficult walls and still make things happen. This is especially true for Indian markets, where trying to build something new comes with a myriad of challenges beyond the known issues in general.
Look for evidence of this behaviour in the past. Coming from a very difficult background, bouncing back from a serious low or ability to hustle their way out of any situation. This is the reason why VCs love second-time successful founders, they have already demonstrated this trait.
It all sounds very cheesy but you need a force to keep things together and keep the ball rolling. With them, you won’t fail for the lack of trying, this one thing is assured.
Sales & Marketing
Besides being the cheerleader and guide for the team. The non-tech founder needs to own this. Sales & marketing is hard, especially for tech people. Instead of putting yourselves out there and getting rejections, people prefer their cocoon of tech and build what they deem fit.
Surprisingly, so many non-techies don’t like selling either. It’s hard and very hard when promoting a non-name and unpolished product. If the core founder cannot sell, it’s very unlikely some hired gun can pull it off. Being able to sell requires lots of things to go right:
- Ability to assess the market
- Understanding buyer psychology
- Being self aware to position product etc
- Willingness to feel stupid
It’s hard not in technical terms. It’s an emotionally hard thing to do. Something, not taught in school and needs to be learned through trade. You will need both willingness and ability to sell.
Giving & Taking Feedback
The above two traits refer to ability to push through and get stuff done. Being good at sales and being an unstoppable force requires one to be very persistent. These are awesome qualities to have when hitting a rough patch.
But besides this, the non-tech person also needs to be someone who can give and take feedback. You don’t just want raw energy but someone who can also strategise, communicate with the team and take feedback himself.
If they cannot take feedback or be willing to give it and make difficult decisions, lots of time and resources will be wasted over the alignment. As a startup, you need to be efficient. You want to be direct and straightforward. The expectations need to be set right from both sides along with accountability.
If the other points check out, this should be true as well but still a good point to remember and filter out not so great peeps. The right founding non-tech partner will follow through with what they say or preach. Things are easier to measure somewhat in tech because its a lot more tangible. This is not so true with lots of business activities.
While market conditions and environment certainly make it difficult to predict business outcomes with good certainty. A good non-tech founder would be able to make consistently good judgements based on their experience, market instincts and ability to get stuff done.
Amateurs Talk Strategy, Professional talk logistics
Partner with someone who can hold this end of the fort and that requires the ability to follow through, take feedback and sell & market as if doing for survival.
Work with someone who is a force of nature. Nowhere, have I mentioned the idea. Ideas are not worth much. A good idea can be stolen, execution is a tad bit difficult.
Next time, someone pings you(Tech-Founder) to build an app or product because they just had an idea. Send them this and ask why should you partner with them?