Tag Archives: hiring

What’s the Role of a Non-Tech Founder?

An interesting article popped up on Harvard Business Review Blog saying “Tech Startups Need Non-Techies to Succeed” which touches upon very important elements startup founders need to think about.

In today’s age where software development is all the rage, and having a tech co-founder is seen as a must, many forget that a great company is not built on the product alone, but rather on a combination of product, marketing, sales, and overall good business planning.

Consider the software industry, where we have successful brands like Windows and Oracle. While these two firms have world-class intellectual properties, I think their true innovation is in the pricing model around their businesses. – Ndubuisi Ekekwe

Yup, the author’s right. At every event or meetup I attend, there is always a handful of startup founders that are building great new social-mobile apps. How are you going to monetize? What is your pricing and distribution strategy? I ask… only to hear “oh, we’ll think about that later, after we raise some VC money”. OK, good luck in going down that path!

Who needs business co-founders?

According to the Startup Genome report, “business-heavy founding teams are 6.2x more likely to successfully scale with sales driven startups than with product centric startups”. This makes sense, and the report also points out that “balanced teams with one technical founder and one business founder raise 30% more money“.

The fact is, a well balanced founding team is key for success.

While a lot of attention in the software startup is paid to the technology stack, prototypes, and the like, movements such as the “lean startup”, and “customer development” are getting a lot of traction because they bring to technology founders the common business sense they sometimes lack.

Steve Blank‘s customer development process, which talks about the business model canvas, for example, is a typical exercise someone with an MBA would know instinctively. For a programmer, not so much.

Who’s in the team?

There are many views about who should be in the founding team. Dharmesh Shah,  co-founder of the successful VC-backed HubSpot argues that first comes the Developer, followed by a Designer, an Inbound Marketer, and a Sales person. Naval, from VentureHacks, has a post about the power of two, a developer and a sales guy.

Enterpreneur turned investor, Manu Kumar, once gave a talk at an event I attended where he laid out his view of the perfect team. He said the founding team should have the following skills: developer, designer, and business. It could all be part of one person’s skillset but this is hard to accomplish, usually there are two or three people representing these skills.

A similar question on Quora has elicited many responses, some similar to what I outlined above, some a bit different.

Some food for thought.


Understanding Visa Requirements for Startups

Adapted from Homeland Security by Phantamage @ flickrThis is a nice post from Chrisopher Golda on his blog, about Immigration Status for Startups.

He breaks it down into the best types of visas to get based on your role with the startup here in the United States, and explains why.

  • Founders  O-1TN or E-2 visas
  • Employees  O-1TN or H-1B visas
  • Interns  J-1 visa

Typical lawyers won’t be able to assist you with good visa advice, because it goes beyond the day-to-day incorporation, stock options agreements, and the like so doing some research and becoming aware of the different options you have as a Startup Founder or Employee is a good step to take. Worth checking out.

Finding Technical Co-Founders

This is probably one of the most asked questions of all, especially by non-tech founders (of course!). Yup, you have websites focused on posting startup jobs and others with the sole intent to help find tech co-founders. So why is the question still being asked?

Jason Freedman hit it spot on I think, with a blog post titled “Please, please stop asking how to find a technical co-founder“. You don’t have to go read the full post if you just focus on his simple advice:

You don’t find a technical cofounder, you earn one.

Jason, you nailed it.


Equity Compensation in Startups

All startup founders face this issue. You sit down at the computer and start Googling away helping you’ll find a clue about how much equity to give to an employee. Bootstrapped companies are the more interested in the answer since using equity is a great way to save some money and get people committed. Or is it? Many have tried to answer the question but it keeps coming back over and over again.

So here is  a short list of helpful resources that will hopefully serve as a guide to helping you figure this out.

I hope the above resources help in your search for the right compensation structure for your employees.