You Don’t Need To Learn To Code: Why Non-Technical Founders Should Learn To Manage Freelance Web Developers Instead

“Do you want to build a technology startup, but don’t know how to code or have a technical co-founder? Maybe you’re one of thousands of non-technical founders looking to build an MVP? No worries, all you have to do is learn how to code in a few quick months, right?

Mmmm. Not Really.

Look, I’m not trying to discourage anyone – programming is a great skill and if you’d like to learn it in your free time, then go right ahead. However, in this article we’re going to explore if there are better uses of your time as CEO of a tech startup (Spoiler alert – there are).

Here are some things you need to consider next time someone suggests that you should learn to code if you can’t find a tech co-founder.

Learning to code is SLOW

To become a CTO-level developer takes years. When I just started, It took me close to a year working as a web developer to become competent in just one PHP stack. And I already had a 5-year Computer Science degree and had been coding pet projects since the age of 9 (I know – I wasn’t the coolest child).

Startups have to operate fast, and as a CEO you don’t have the luxury of taking several years off to learn how to code. Besides, it’s not a learn-it-and-forget-it type of thing. Technology is evolving rapidly, only full-time practitioners are able to stay on top of things through daily learning and work.

Technology is evolving rapidly – Non-technical founders
Technology is evolving rapidly

Coding isn’t everything that a CTO needs: experience is key

Being able to understand and write code is not everything a good CTO needs. Experience is what really sets great developers apart. Sleepless nights fixing unexpected issues taught me and many other developers important things you just can’t learn from books.

In programming the same result can often be achieved in many different ways. For example, say you’re building a video app and you need to process tons of video and convert it to different formats to stream to users based on their device and bandwidth.

You can build the whole thing from scratch, which will take forever. Or you can use an open-source video processing library, or a paid library, or maybe an API that sells video processing as a service? Each decision has long-lasting financial and time consequences.”

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