Six Crucial Steps for Founders Seeking Tech Expertise

There’s no hard rule saying that you have to be a developer or a computer programmer in order to found a tech-focused company. But knowing where to turn for expertise can make a huge difference for your startup’s trajectory.

While you’re on the lookout for a lead technologist, Plug In South LA Founder Derek Smith shared the following advice for staying on track:

Outsource as a last resort. That Ukrainian app-builder might have an affordable rate, but the risks of hiring them can be high, Smith says. You could find yourself starting over, losing precious time and potential investment. If you have no other option except to outsource, ask fellow founders in your region which third-party companies they recommend based on first-hand experience.

Attend a tech-focused conference. Plug In South LA’s can’t-miss Urban Tech Connect conference conference for emerging tech entrepreneurs from overlooked communities is expanding to two days in May 2020. Smith suggests TechCrunch’s Disrupt SF, known as the original tech startup conference, next fall. It’s also worth checking out AfroTech in Oakland to network with product engineers, he said. Gatherings like these provide valuable insights — and help you forge productive new connections.

Go to a relevant hackathon. McKinsey defines hackathons as “an event that pools eager entrepreneurs and software developers into a confined space for a day or two and challenges them to create a cool killer app.” Smith says that hackathons can be great places to meet fellow founders as well as tech talent.

Network with computer science students. Head on over to the local college or university and meet with students majoring in a technical field like computer science, Smith says. “They’re a potential intellectual capital resource that won’t break the bank.”

Look for a startup accelerator. Venture studios are an emerging type of company that provides budding entrepreneurs with expertise and services. Although this model has been praised for offering stability and solving inefficiencies, it also involves a serious cash outlay and may not be a good fit for founders, Smith cautions. Consider applying to a startup accelerator program instead.

Embrace scrappy product design. “Work hard to pool your resources and go get something done,” Smith advises. Teach yourself the basics and find a template that you can adapt or build over time, he added. That could mean choosing a Squarespace or WordPress website theme as a temporary solution until you can hire a lead product officer.

As a founder, your capital is precious so you want to spend that hard-earned money wisely. As you weigh the most pressing tech needs, keep attending relevant events, building your network, and embracing that scrappy startup mindset.

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