Question by an aspiring entrepreneur: “How do I build a startup with no technical knowledge and little capital?”

Technical knowledge is not a necessary condition, and certainly not a sufficient condition, for starting a venture. A product/solution is an important aspect of any venture. However, it is equally important to have an understanding of the dynamics of the business around that product and the competencies & skills required to implement that business in the market. That will determine the success or failure of your venture. 

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Of course, if you are technically qualified to build the product or service, it is ideal. However, product development resources can be hired, or the product development part could also be outsourced (depending on how critical it is to keep the product development component in-house). One way to fill in the technical skills gap is to find a co-founder who can lead the product development and product management piece, while you lead the business part of the venture.

It is important for you to think clearly about what problem you are solving or what opportunity you are addressing. Once you have clarity on that, and if that area interests you, then you can start thinking about the right solution to address that opportunity. You can then think about what is the most appropriate way of building that product – outsource, build a competent team or get a co-founder who can build the product for you.

Moreover, a great product is not a guarantee for success of the venture. A moderately good product with a great plan for the business around that venture is likely to lead to better chances of success than a great product with no plan about how to convert that product into a good business.

Think of all the critical components, apart from the product, on which the success or failure of your business will depend. Some of these components – marketing (positioning and how you make your message heard by the appropriate target audiences), sales (how do you convert your customers), business model, revenue streams, operations management, and the overall business case, etc. In ventures like e-commerce, aspects like procurement, supply chain management, warehousing, logistics, etc – become important. In certain domains, partner relationship management, after sales service, customer experience (e.g. in a restaurant business) and customer relationship management (especially in categories where the business case depends on the lifetime value of a customer i.e. repeat purchase). Each business will have its own dynamics and key drivers for success. You must have the ability to think through these, make an assessment of what is critical, prioritize it, determine your focus area and then make a plan to implement it in the market. And of course, you NEED to have the competence of executing that plan well in the marketplace. That is critical.


Happy Venturing!