How do I create a startup without any “technical” knowledge?

First off, a bit of background.  I have a rather extensive financial background with a career path to Financial VP or CFO.  Over the years, I have worked with many operational personnel and have helped them run their businesses successfully.  However, now I am tired of being just “the finance guy” and have always dreamed of creating my company and “conquering the world!”  My issue is that I don’t have any real technical knowledge.  I’m not an engineer, so I can’t design and build a physical product for market.  I’m not a programmer, so I cannot code software.

I’m struggling to find the path to start off my dream.

Ideas?  Yeah, I’ve got ’em!  But who cares!  What matters is how to execute on those ideas, and I do not have the skill set to make any of my ideas into a viable product, but I DO have the skill set to sell, grow, optimize, run, and diversify the business.  If I have to partner with someone that has those skill sets, then I’m not completely opposed to it, but I just cannot find the pathway to start my dream.  

Has anyone else come across this problem?

  • I’ve found that in order to succeed in a technical space, you either need

    a) technical skill (duh)

    b) experience managing technical projects/people

    One way to go get where you want is to work at a small enough company that allows you to possibly participate in the day to day project decisions and move laterally into project management. Once you got some background in how software is scoped and managed, you can build MVP’s for your ideas by outsourcing the work. Once those MVP’s pan out, you should be able to hire real devs or a CTO since you’re proven and you don’t have to grovel for a co-founder.

    Many non-tech founders got their start this way.

  • The FinTech space is really hot. I’m in it. The more successful ventures in this space are finance people first, technology people second. I’m not finance by background, but we’d have become a much stronger company faster by having someone with your experience. I’m sure others are the same way.

    So, maybe you should look beyond “tech” – you’re right, the next app company will peg you as a finance guy – and look at a vertical that speaks to your strengths.

  • I doubt that your problem is lack of tech skills. Most finance or ops people come on after product market fit. Your skillset around growth and optimization is probably not helpful, if not downright negative (think about the fb founder who was trying to sell ads in 2004 or whatever)

    However, if you can sell, and sell a dream, do that.

    Once you have customers, bring on a contract developer and just pay them for 3 months. If they are awesome after that, offer them equity and an exec role.

  • I don’t have the technical knowledge either so don’t let that stop you. There’s plenty of resources out there that you can use to build stuff. Web dev, app dev, etc., there’s tools and templates that are pre-built to get at least your MVP up and running for you to test the market. Keep an eye on Product Hunt. They’re always showcasing new apps and tools.

  • Find partners that buy into your vision/plan with a skill set that compliments your own. I’m in a very similar position where I realize that I cannot build what I need, but as someone who is savvy in business/operations I understand its role. So I am bringing on a partner that is stronger in this area.

    Just like we build well rounded teams to succeed, your partners and executive board should be built the same way. You don’t need to do it all. You can’t. Realize that and find a partner that balances you.

  • Just finished an accelerator for the startup I co-founded – neither me nor my partner are “tech” guys. We’ve got 100k initial funding and raising a seed round right now. It’s hard as hell without a tech person but it has also forced us to make decisions that many other startups should have. We’ve gone very lean, went hard on customer development, made extra careful decisions, put effort into things like customer care and branding. There are very few post-mortem’d startups who die because they simply couldn’t get the tech right. Most fail b/c of poor product/market fit and lack of customers. Sales, marketing, budget management – these are HIGHLY needed skills in today’s startup world.

  • Go to and find someone offshore. You can also hire them fulltime if they are good. Usually much cheaper than local hires and if your product is good you also don’t have to share equity.

    • Perfect answer! Just go to (there is comparison of these sites in the Web) and hire East-european developer. Recommended: Lathvia, Estonia, Hungary, Belorussia (only capitals!), not recommended: Lithuania, Poland, Russia (exception – Novosibirsk city (see wiki)), Ukrain.

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