Can a Non-Technical person create a technical startup?

I’ve had this idea for a while now and really think it’s a home run. It will be an app, but I have no coding skills. I’m currently learning coding by myself through sites such as, or I’m only 19 and attending community college. As a person with no coding experience, can I create my own app? How long would it take for me to self-teach myself to the point where I can efficiently create an app? Should I bring in a Co-Founder who has more technical knowledge and give him 50% of the company? I really really really want to do this but I don’t know how to start!

  • It all depends on the idea. Digg can be thrown together by a code novice. Google spreadsheets not so much.

    • OP here:

      I agree. I’m not looking to create as complicated as google spreadsheet, but a simple app. Thanks for your advice!

    • OP here:

      I agree. I think since I’m still very young, there really isn’t a lot of things for me to lose. Right now I’m self-learning Objective-C using Even though it’s not going to teach me to become a master coder, I’m hoping it will at least familiarize me with coding terminology and the basics of coding.

      Thanks for your advice!

  • Remember, coding is really a small part of a venture. As glamorous as coding is these days, customer acquisition is really the hallmark of a successful startup. Do you KNOW how you’ll get customers attention and revenue? Or is this a if I build it it they will come idea? Too often founders have a solid idea but fail in the customer acquisition front and as a result promising ideas die.

    • OP here:

      No, I do not have a solid plan of how to actually bring customer’s attention to my product. But I’m as determined as I can be. Thanks for the great advice, I’ll definitely look into customer acquisition strategies. Thanks for your great advice.

  • Your app won’t be technologically sophisticated, because it takes many years to get any good at programming. Luckily, it doesn’t matter much if your app is any good. If you’re solving a real problem, or if the app appeals to people for another reason you can succeed regardless.

    Besides, you’re 19. Just go for it. You don’t need anybody’s permission. Work hard and learn as much as you can.

    • OP here:

      Thanks for the great advice. Right now I feel like I’m just a “wantrepreneur” with an idea, but I really want to take action! You’re right, I’m only 19. If I fail, at least I learned something from the experience.

  • You remind me of myself a few years ago. I had what I thought was a great idea. I read the lean startup and many other books but could not afford to get the MVP built. In the end I learnt to code enough to get the thing up and running and “failed fast” spending only £60 to prove to myself that my idea was not solving a big enough problem. Since then I have been using the code skills to build loads of other apps for myself. I learnt a huge amount.

    One other piece of advice I picked up was not to try and keep my idea secret. You might think it will be stolen but in reality noone is likely to see the potential like you do and if its that easy to copy then as soon as you launch a company will see the success of your app and build it better and faster than you. My point is talk about your idea and get feedback rather than keeping it a secret and waiting a year to find out no one cares.

    Good luck

  • Three pieces of advice:

    Learn to code as a hobby, the ability to create working things is paramount to business
    ONLY non-technical people can create a successful start-up – technology is a tool, just like a hammer or a drill, tools are not business, strategy and a vision separate from the emotional attachment to the technology are critical to every business (read the books, in order, The Design of Business, Personal MBA, and Lean Startup)
    Learn everything you can about business, marketing, sales, and GAAP – you master those and every idea you have will have a chance. Don’t learn even one, and your ideas will fail painfully. Make something, even a painted block of wood, and then sell it. Learn to sell with integrity even ice to Eskimos, you’ll learn what people want and how to deliver it the way they want.

    Bonus: Only execution matters, there are billions of excellent ideas, and that is why “why didn’t someone think of that before” is so common a phrase – millions did, just you need to be the one that executes the strategy to get the idea to be a business.

    Good luck, and ignore what everyone says… just learn by trial and error (not borrowed knowledge and failure).

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