By Michael Weiss
Over the years, I have met many aspiring entrepreneurs with promising ideas for an app or software platform. The only thing stopping them from starting their idea was the lack of technical skills or the lack of funding to hire someone to build it for them. While this is a legitimate and common problem, it doesn’t mean the idea is dead on arrival. Below are some suggestions to overcome this challenge.
There are numerous no code platforms, such as Bubble, that offer non-techies the ability to build a mobile or web application with relative ease. Drag-and-drop design functionality, integration for commonly used tools like payment processers, GPS tracking, etc., and templates to simplify your layout. While no code platforms are somewhat intuitive, there still may be a learning curve, in which case, you can take advantage of bootcamps, how-to videos, and even a marketplace to hire low-cost agencies to build or troubleshoot issues.
Meeting someone with right technical skills and relevant industry experience, who wants to join your startup as a co-founder is the ideal option. A technical co-founder not only provides you with a no upfront cost technical resource, but that person also adds long-term value to your venture. While finding this person is easier said than done, here are some opportunities to explore: Techstars hosts Startup Weekend events all over the country, including in Orlando, which is designed to build teams to start new ventures. You can also sign up for Y Combinator’s cofounder matchmaking program. You can search resumes on LinkedIn or simply network at startup and industry events.
Artificial Intelligence not only exists; it is most likely the future of how all new technology comes to exist. So why not use AI to your advantage. Prompt ChatGPT to generate code, content, images, searches and more. Even no code platforms, like Bubble, are helping you unlock the power of artificial intelligence. AI is a new frontier, so who knows what you’ll create.
If you don’t have the time or desire to build it yourself, or your technology is incredibly complex, you can hire a software development firm. This option obviously assumes you have some funds available to pay for software development services. However, it may not be as expensive as you think. Many local and domestic firms employ near-shore and off-shore developers. This means you can work with experienced developers, but at lower hourly rates than an onshore team. The tradeoff here means engaging with the developers in different time zones and/or potentially having to overcome some language barriers. But with the right project manager in place, you could develop your platform on budget and on time.
These are by no means the only options. If none of these work for you, I encourage you listen to startup podcasts, read how other non-technical founders got started, talk to founders at networking functions, or engage with tech startup support organizations. Where there is a will, there is a way. And just remember, many popular tech-enabled companies like Airbnb, Tinder, and Pinterest were established by non-technical founders.
The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is a community resource that provides early-stage companies with the tools, training, and infrastructure to become financially stable, high growth/impact enterprises. Since 1999, this award-winning program has provided vital business development resources resulting in over 300 local startup companies reaching their potential faster and graduating into the community where they continue to grow and positively impact the local economy.
With eight facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Corridor, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia Counties, and the cities of Kissimmee, Orlando, and Winter Springs. For the 2017/2018 fiscal years, the activities of these participating firms have helped to sustain more than 6,725 local jobs and have had a cumulative impact of over $725 million on regional GDP and over $1.3 billion on regional sales. During the same period, the program has returned more than $12.00 in state and local taxes for every $1.00 invested in the program. In addition, for every $1.00 of public investment, the firms also produced $118 of additional regional GDP and $226 of regional sales. For more information, visit www.incubator.ucf.edu.