Product management · Technical co-founder

Advice for non-technical founders building a product

Benji Hyam

February 18th, 2015

Going through these threads, I often see a lot of non-technical founders trying to build products who don't know where to start. Thought i'd share this resource as it helps give a good outline of what you should know prior to engaging someone.

This advice comes from an engineer. If you have any other advice feel free to add below. Would love to hear other perspectives. 

George Calvert

February 19th, 2015

Building on the article, I'd add / emphasize:

There's no substitute for mockups (a la Balsamiq and its ilk).  At the very min, there should be a reasonably rigorous list of requirements.  These then get discussed, prioritized and estimated (roughly).


Any dev team should be estimating the effort for various chunks -- and offering alternatives if the effort doesn't align with the value.  Engineers, particularly those more junior, tend to blow their estimates -- so get used to doubling or tripling those numbers to cover stuff like testing and stabilization, gaps and minor rework.

For me, a founding team sets roles something like:
1) 75% sales/revenues; 5-10% business ops; 15-20% product requirements
2) 40-50% sales; 50-60% product requirements, demo data and testing (!)
3) 85% front-end (including testing); 15% helping elsewhere
4) 85% back-end (ditto); 10% infrastructure (build, servers); 5% helping elsewhere

Key here is that the more #1 & 2 rely on 3 & 4 to determine the functional requirements -- particularly the UI -- the slower the development goes.  Lastly, you want somebody to have a decent aesthetic so the app is pretty :-)

This stuff is pretty context dependent, but hope that helps.


February 18th, 2015

Great find!  Nothing revolutionary but a very nice concise summary for non technical founders to start strategically before embarking on a project.