How to avoid the “technical founder” trap?

Justin Kan(YC Partner and Co-founder Twitch) answered 💪🏼🔥

Is it always necessary to be a product designer or an insanely good coder in order to build a startup? I’ve been thinking about this question for quite a while now. Regarding this question I asked Justin Kan (YC Partner, Co-founder of Twitch and Co-founder of Whale) using the whale app. Before we go to to his answer, let’s dissect all the benefits of being a technical founder of your own startup.

Understand the product inside out

One of the benefits being a technical founder and I guess the most important aspect of doing startups is to understand your product inside out. By knowing what kind of technologies you’re using for the product and how it works, will make the founder care more on the product because he/she would recognize what’s unique, weaknesses and strengths that the product has. The founder should also maintain the quality standard of the product which must be consistent according to the company’s culture. When a founder doesn’t know how to code or design product, it’s a very high chance that the founder doesn’t maintain the quality standard.

Engineers are expensive

It would be a huge advantage for the startup not to hire engineers at early stage, especially when the product hasn’t even reach product market fit. Average salary of a software engineer is somewhere around $90k. Well this could be less or more depending to their years of experience, but it’s still a lot of money.


Is it a necessary to be a product designer or an insanely good coder in order to become startup founder? If not, how do I prepare myself?

Justin Kan’s answer:

Well, given that I’m neither a product designer or an insanely good coder, NO. I guess not. Look, only one part you have to do as a startup founder is to build the product, which is a very very important part but there is a lot of other part. That is getting people to use that product, getting feedback about that product, raising money and convincing employees to come in and help to build the product. There’s still a lot of things to do and the way to prepare is to learn all the critical skillsets building a company. It could be working on a product or engineering, or it could be studying to make your own company by joining small startups and work for them. There’s a lot of different way to do it and there is no right path.
Here’s a link to his answer


Conclusion that I made: There’s no right or wrong path in order to become a startup founder, but there are different ways to learn. I guess my advice would be, “get/hire a co-founder who is good at what you’re bad at”.

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