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Do Start-up Founders Need to Code?

2012 March 30
by Rick

Interesting article from SF Gate: Non-Technical Founders Will Always Make Subpar Products That Fail Slowly.  As a techie founder of a company, I certainly understand the thinking here.  It was great that my time was the only investment I had to make to develop my website and when features were requested by my team and/or my clients I often would stay up late that night coding them.  We landed more then a couple large clients that normally didn’t work with a company as small as ours based on our system’s technical capabilities.  And I remember one of our largest client’s surprise when they asked for an integration feature, we had it ready to go in two weeks, they replied that they didn’t think anyone would be ready that quickly and they still needed a month or two on their end.  And, or pivot on pricing model was quick and painless as I was able to quickly develop the technology needed to make the change.

However, in hind site, I also see many opportunities missed due to my and my team’s general limited business savvy.  Engineers/Programmers/Designers/etc tend to think they know everything, but time and time again I’ve seen the real value that a good “business” person adds.  Of course, “good” is always the key, in all of these positions.  This why even I, a successful entrepreneur, is planning to get my MBA now.  I believe that adding a strong, core business education to my techie/entrepreneurial background is a killer combination.

As an early stage angel investor, my favorite type of team is two people, a rockstar engineer and a rockstar business person.  If the team is lacking one of these, I need to see a solid plan on how those needs are going to be filled.  It is very true that in the Bay Area (and I think the market in general) good tech talent is at a premium, but so are great MBAs that have a true entrepreneurial spirit.

I understand the sentiment in this article, and would encourage anyone thinking of starting their own tech company to learn some coding, there’s no way it can hurt.  But I also think it’s a generalization that doesn’t necessarily hold up.  Did Steve Jobs code?

One Response leave one →
  1. April 27, 2012

    Jobs didn’t code, but Woz did. Apple is the classic story of a two-man startup. Two rockstars.

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