App Development Tips for Non-Technical Founders

The world seems to be enamored of flashy tech startups and businesses! There’s a reason for that. Technology has truly transformed the way we live our lives. It’s made it easier to connect with people across the world….and people across town. It’s connected us in ways that were previously impossible – and unfathomable. You may have ideas about your own place in this revolution, but what if you do not have the technical capacity to bring those ideas to life? 

Well, you are in good company! Did you know that the founders of some of the world’s foremost tech companies are non-technical? We’ll introduce you to a few and share some helpful app development tips for non-technical founders.

Meet the Non-Technical Founders

We’d like to introduce you to Brian Chesky (industrial designer), Sean Rad (college dropout), Evan Sharp (history major), and Alex Turnbull (entrepreneur). None would ever have been accused of being a techy, but they each went on to found some of the hottest tech-related companies in the world. Chesky is one of the brains behind Airbnb; Rad founded the $3 billion Tinder; Sharp came up with the idea for Pinterest; and Turnbull launched Groove HQ. 

These people didn’t need technical genius; instead, they leveraged an entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to relay their ideas to their technically-inclined partners and co-founders into multi-billion dollar success stories. 

How to Start a Tech Company Without a Tech Background: FREE Guide

5 App Development Tips for Non-Technical Founders

The lesson here: don’t let a lack of technical expertise slow you down. With that in mind, let’s get on with the helpful tips:

  1. Surround Yourself with the Right People

You know what they say: if you’re the smartest person in the room…. Find a new room. When you are a non-technical founder you must lean on those with advanced technical skills. There’s no way around it. So surround yourself with the best. This is what Chesky, Rad, Sharp, and Turnball did, and you can see how it worked out for them. A technical co-founder is important, as are the right team members. Whether you are hiring in-house or outsourcing to app designers and developers, make sure they’ve got the skills to fill in any gaps in your own expertise. 

  1. Know What – and Let App Designers and Developers Work on How

If you know what you want an app to do, you can relay your ideas to your app designers and developers. What functionality do you need in order to ensure business runs smoothly and seamlessly? What features do users need in order to complete key tasks?

Chesky, for example, envisioned a service that allowed people to easily find and book accommodations, as well as list their own properties for travelers. He knew the what; all he needed was to relay those ideas to the how people. While you are relying on their expertise, they also need yours. Lead them down the path that will take your business to sustainable success. 

  1. Let the Visuals Do the Talking

Not quite sure how to articulate what you want and need from an app? Use visuals. This allows designers and developers to see your idea the way you do. From simple sketches to prototyping via tools like Axure and Moqups, images are often an easier avenue for effective communication. This is just what Alex Turbull did. He used mockups and Photoshop to “explain” what he wanted to the people who could make it happen.

  1. Learn the Language

No, you do not have to learn to code! No, it won’t hurt anything – but it does take you away from other critical aspects of your business. And it doesn’t do much good when building an app. You have expert app designers and developers to do that for you, and they have knowledge and skills that would take several years of study to hope to catch up to. Instead, use your time to learn about applicable tech, such as database options, web services, hosting solutions, etc.

You’ll get a better idea of the technical landscape without wasting your time learning a skill that someone else already possesses, has honed, and continues to build. See tip #1!

  1. Let Them Work

When you take your time, do your due diligence, and select the right team of app designers and developers, let them work. No one likes to be micromanaged, particularly by someone who doesn’t understand the nitty gritty.

It can be tempting for non-technical founders to overcompensate; they don’t have extensive tech knowledge, so they really dig in on the small details that they do get. Don’t. It will alienate your team, and it will slow them down. If you communicate your needs and deliver a strong, clear brief, they know how to get it done. 


That said: delegate responsibility but don’t abdicate it! You should certainly keep a close eye on progress, conduct periodic tests for quality, and expect a code push and build to check at certain points in the app’s development. Just don’t hover over their shoulders.

One of the most valuable tips related to app development for non-technical founders is to work with a reliable partner. At MVP.dev, your mission is to leverage our startup and small business technology expertise to empower you to achieve your goals. Contact us today to get started!

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