Being a technical founder is arguably the strongest way to start. As with almost anything in the startup world, this strenght may actually turn into a weakness if not managed right. I’ve tried to condense the things I wish I knew when I started as a technical co-founder.
If you feel you’re too late, it’s (usually) fine
When I started to build Botsociety, it looked inevitable to me. It looked we were too late. There must be a solution to design conversational interfaces! For quite some time I suspected I was actually typing the wrong Google query. I later learned that this is normal for founders. Usually founders think they are too late, but they are often too soon. Keep that feeling as it’s a good forcing function to move fast. But don’t get overwhelmed. Shoutout to Martino Bagini for teaching me this early on.
Pricing and marketing are just another code variable
If you are a technical founder, you will be tempted to fast-track the product iteration compared to marketing/pricing/sales experiments. I did this mistake a lot. We were shipping 3 new chatbot features a week (product iteration) but we were not changing pricing or marketing for months. This mistake almost killed the company. I later discovered that the best way, for me, to think about price and marketing is to consider them just another code variable — and change them with the same pace as the rest of the product. If you do this early on, you will learn a lot quicker on key areas that can make the difference between life and death. Shoutout to Chris Neumann for teaching me this.
Build, then articulate
If you are a technical founder, you usually do not need to explain your idea to anybody in order to build anything. Co-founders do not count as they “live” with you. This is probably the best way to start, as you can move much faster. The downside is that you may underestimate the power of being able to articulate your idea from day one. Being able to articulate your idea will allow you to get the message right, and will speed up the recruitment of users, customers and eventually employees. If you have never seen it, I suggest to watch this lesson to learn to articulate a 30 seconds pitch. The rest will probably stem from there.
You also have something you wish you knew when you started? Please share it in the comments!