Why Co-Founders Should Learn Basic Coding Skills

August 23, 2016 - 3 minutes read

If you ever take a look at Hacker News comment threads or the Reddit startup community, you’ll notice a consistent trend: non-technical founders desperately seeking technical co-founders. This trend holds true in real-life mobile app development circles around Silicon Valley (and Silicon Beach for that matter).

The difficulty with finding a technical co-founder isn’t entirely because of a shortage of talent. Rather, it’s simply skepticism on the part of techies who can code. Everyone has a “great idea,” but very few people follow through on that idea. Unfortunately, many non-technical founders want a technical founder for the wrong reasons — to get an app developer without the up-front cost, among others.

There’s a simple solution for non-technical founders: first, demonstrate your value to a company through real-world actions. Technical co-founders will line up to work with you if you have a proven track record in some other discipline important to mobile app startups, such as marketing, fundraising, design, or even simply being part of the right crowd.

Second, you should learn some code. I don’t mean you should take six months to do a boot camp like Hack Reactor or get lost in the jungle of back-end database structures. “Learning some code” can be as simple as grasping the basics of HTML/CSS, which only takes a day or two with free online tools like Codecademy.

Learning a smidge of code does wonders for anyone involved in mobile app development. Most importantly, gaining superficial familiarity with how code works makes you more effective as a manager. It’s more important to understand how an app is structured and built than to do the building yourself. Even experienced coders and London iPhone app developers will work with external teams to build their app ideas. However, the fact that they know what they’re getting for their money with custom code gives them an advantage over completely non-technical appreneurs, who are effectively operating blind.

Long story short: you don’t have to be a coding guru, but you’ll need to win over excellent engineers at some point in the growth of your mobile app. Learning enough code to “talk the talk” will pay huge dividends.

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