[Update] If you have a great startup idea, or want to try and hack on problems that industry players have, think about going to http://www.seedhack.com to present it.
This is a quick answer to a frequently asked question.
So you’ve come up with a good idea… you feel like you can get a lot of it going on your own, or perhaps you have another founder in your team, but both of you are not technically inclined, so key parts will need to be outsourced.
Do you need to bring in a technical founder early in the business’s life? Yes!
Do you need a technical founder to get your business idea off the ground if you don’t have one? No!
There are many people out there with great ideas that solve real world problems, but they just don’t know any good technical people. You might be one of them. That shouldn’t prevent you from getting started thinking and doing, but you will hopefully be doing an interesting enough project that you’ll quickly be able to attract top technical talent to join you. What you don’t want to do, is get a company off the ground completely based on outsourced tech help, and never really bring the tech in-house, thus being entirely at the mercy of an external shop for your core technology.
There are clear advantages to having a technical person/founder on board including:
1) A technical founder, unless they are not committed, will continue to work on beer and pizza long after cash becomes a limited resource. An outsourced development shop will probably not show the same level of commitment.
2) A technical founder will help you in creating a product/service that is architected for your specific needs and not based on (possibly) some recycled code.
3) A technical founder will be able to react to tech emergencies far faster than an outsourced shop.
4) A technical founder will help you beta test and a/b test business ideas far faster and more efficiently.
5) A great technical founder will also attract other great technical people into your team. Birds of a feather flock together, and at some point, when you have to bring the technology in-house, you’ll appreciate this.
However, even if you don’t have a technical founder, all is not lost. Viability and execution of your business idea is the most important thing to start. If you need to outsource to kick things off, do yourself and your business a favor by learning how your website/service/product works and perhaps how to modify it on the fly and in the most basic of ways. Otherwise you will always be at the mercy of your outsourcing team. If you don’t know HTML/CSS start there… it will serve you well.
Other articles on the matter:
- Getting Started as a Non-Technical Founder (startupdigest.com)
- The Seed Stage Dandelion Effect (techcrunch.com)
- Do you need a technical co-founder? (jeffreytalajic.com)
- How to evaluate a non-technical co-founder (hirelite.com)
- A note about the “Business Guy seeking Technical Co-Founder” (bigthink.com)
- How to find a technical co-founder (jeffreytalajic.com)
- Why you can(‘t) recruit a technical co-founder (launchbit.com)
- VC CONFESSION: I Have Doubts Once I Think Of Women Founders Getting Married, Having Kids, And Being Distracted From Work (businessinsider.com)
- How Much Equity a Technical Cofounder Should Get (nahurst.com)
- How To Work Better with Your Co-Founder (readwriteweb.com)