4 principles for building an MVP even if you can’t write a single line of code – TechCrunch

Coding is new literacy – for years people have called programming the X factor that guarantees future success.

It’s no surprise that there’s a widespread belief in the startup world that anyone who doesn’t know how to code should forget about trying to build anything. After all, Silicon Valley, historically to software development what Hollywood is to acting, built its reputation as the birthplace of world-changing technology companies.

But the reality is that great talent is everywhere, and technical talent isn’t the only kind that matters. Silicon Valley is by no means the only booming tech hub in the world – in 2013, only 37 cities were home to a unicorn; by 2021 there were unicorns in as many as 170 cities.

Having a technical background is not a requirement for a founder to build a great company, regardless of where they may be located. We work with many technical and non-technical people, and we encourage entrepreneurs with a non-technical background to take the plunge into entrepreneurship.

Why do we feel so strongly about this?

The proof is in the data. In his book “Super Founders,” venture capitalist Ali Tamaseb collected 30,000 data points that revealed founding unicorn CEOs were split down the middle: Half came from business backgrounds; half had a technical background.

And there have been many non-tech founders who have built large tech companies, such as Melanie Perkins of Canva, Brian Chesky of Airbnb, Whitney Wolfe Herd of Bumble, and Evan Sharp of Pinterest.

Coding is “A” new literacy, not “THE” new literacy and is just one of many ways to achieve great results.

If we meet an applicant who doesn’t have a technical background, but who brings drive, maturity and some other special knowledge, we almost always want to partner with them, connect them to our ecosystem and start their entrepreneurial journey.

While this may sound encouraging, it doesn’t change the fact that every company needs to go to market with an MVP. Without coding skills, how do you build one?

You should always try to have at least one technical co-founder on your team. It simply makes for faster building and iteration, easier pivoting, consistency throughout the life of the product, and fewer headaches or incompatibilities.

While we don’t recommend launching a company solo, if you haven’t found a technical co-founder or freelancer to build your MVP, here are four principles that will help in the meantime.

Principle 1: Non-technical is OK; non-product is not

People often confuse technical knowledge with product knowledge, but they are not the same. Each requires different educational backgrounds, team structures, focus areas in the business and the types of questions that need to be asked.

Product knowledge is about being able to articulate what your thing does at the most basic level. Even if you have no idea how the technology actually works, you should be able to explain what the function is in a clear and concise manner. On the other hand, technical knowledge is about building the thing itself.

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