Ever since the 2008 financial crisis, intellectuals have had to ask themselves, ‘Does Capitalism Still Work?’ I have explored this question for several years now, beginning with a seminal column I wrote for Forbes: Capitalism’s Fundamental Flaw. Two particular problems stand out.
First, Capitalism has been hijacked by speculators. Second, the system enables amassing wealth at the tip of the pyramid, leaving most of society high and dry. Both problems have resulted in a highly unstable, volatile world order that jitters and shocks markets periodically, leaving financial carnage and mass scale human suffering.
So what is the solution? Can the ideals of democracy and capitalism be combined to establish a more robust, stable system?
I believe so. Here’s how.
We need to use the fundamental principle of capitalism — the creation of value that people are willing to pay for — and apply it to the middle of the pyramid on a global scale. In other words, we need large numbers of entrepreneurs who are willing and able to build products and offer services that address demand from certain specific segments of customers. We need to teach them how to build businesses that can become sustainable — profitable — and create jobs. We need to also teach them to grow by applying the same kinds of methodology and discipline that, traditionally, a venture-funded company may use.
This means, we have to empower both technical and non-technical founders to build technology and technology-enabled services startups.
CAN you build a startup as a non-technical founder? Yes, you can. Non-technical entrepreneurs are not that rare. And if you have a great idea for a company and not the technical skills, there’s no reason you can’t find someone else to help you with that part.
Why do you think Uber is so successful?
No, it is not because of technology.
It is successful because it has used technology to leverage the needs of millions of working class people without jobs to create a new livelihood.
Uber doesn’t offer job security. It doesn’t offer health insurance. But it offers an opportunity for millions of people to make some money. May not be grand incomes, but some income is better than no income for most of these people who need, desperately, a means of sustenance.
Now parlay that into your entrepreneurial thinking and figure out what else can generate incomes for large numbers of blue-collar people. What other services can be thus delivered with the help of technology?
This is just an example to stir up your ideation process.
If you have a fantastic concept but no technical background, you would need to collaborate with technology experts in order to start a business. In order to succeed, either the startup co-founders must have competence in both fields, or you need to outsource your technical product development (at least for a while, in the beginning).
For example, if you want to build an AI startup, you need a technical co-founder to build the AI model and for your startup to be credible with investors. However, if you bring domain knowledge in an esoteric field (say, ship chartering), that is considered extremely valuable.
If you want to build an Online Education or Digital Health startup, all of these, btw, are very hot startup areas … the same. Someone needs to build a piece of technology. Equally, though, someone needs to bring in the domain knowledge.
In e-commerce, we see a lot of non-technical founders. The tech portion is often outsourced.
Equally important aspects of starting and growing a technical business are sales, marketing, logistics, and finance. Non-technical startup founders should focus on those aspects.
So, for inspiration and methodology, delve into these case study based courses in various domains. See which one resonates.
Here you have it. Non-technical entrepreneurs are not that uncommon. We’ve seen many, many, many success stories.
There’s no reason you can’t get some skilled developers to assist you with your startup if you have a great concept, but no technical skills. If you study the courses above carefully, you should have an edge when it comes to getting your new venture off the ground.
P.S. We’re looking to partner with community leaders who write blogs, teach and mentor entrepreneurs, and help support startup ecosystems in every corner of the world, no matter how small or how remote. I have written about my own journey building startup ecosystems around the world, and how you can draw from my lessons from the trenches. If you’re interested in partnering with 1Mby1M, please consider joining our ambassador program.