In 2015, everyone should code. That’s a little ambitious. OK. In 2025, I hope that the majority of the world has the chance to program computers. Code is the foundation for startups, tech companies, and the tools that everyone uses on a daily basis. It’s important we all know how it works. Although we are years away from a world in which the majority of the population programs, I think everyone at your startup needs to know about code today.
Your Startup Only Lives Once
You’ve been hired by super-cool-stealthy-funded startup Format Corporation to lead all of their marketing efforts. Congratulations! You’ve earned this. All your passion, leadership, and knowledge is going to make Format Corporation known to everyone in the world.
Your first task is to change all of the copy on the website. You rewrote everything. It’s totally witty and brilliant and now it’s ready to ship. Next step: coordinate your request with the engineer’s schedule.
Wat. Wait, no. Come on, now.
You go into the code and make the changes yourself! Your startup doesn’t have time to wait for the engineers. And, your engineers have to focus on significant architectural challenges to prepare for millions of people using your app. You identify where the previous copy was in the repository and swap it with your new poetic lines.
Your startup only lives once and your coding skills mean that you get to actively contribute to its success.
I Can Has Code, Too
Common Language Of Communication
ChopperShot App asked you to be their product owner so that new features can be rolled out to its tens of thousands of users. You’ve got a laundry list of ideas that you cannot wait to have developed. Your goal is the front page of Hacker News and you’ve got the strategy to make that happen.
You realize that 90% of the people who land on your registration page leave without having registered. There is a huge opportunity to change the website’s experience so more visitors convert into users.
You ask the engineers if there is something wrong with the registration page. You wait for their response.
Wat. Oh jeez. No, please, no.
With your programming knowledge, you suspect that there might be a bug that is preventing users from successfully registering for the app. You investigate your application performance monitor and realize that your thoughts were correct. There are errors everywhere. You fire up your browser and try to replicate the problem based on a hypothesis that there might be a client-side issue. Sure enough, your ability to think through the problem allows you to identify the issue.
Instead of asking the engineers why the conversion rate is so low, you tell them that your troubleshooting skills allowed you to identify a problem. Your understanding of how code works on the web allowed you to replicate an issue and to communicate it effectively to the engineers.
No Fear Of Missing Out
You want to work in startups because everyone wants to work in startups! As the HR department and community evangelist for Thankful Dolphin Space Exploration, you make sure the employees and the customers are happy. Your enthusiasm for great work culture gives you a significant edge and you’re going to attract lots of great technologists.
One of your big initiatives is to host a series of meetups at your office. Your employees are going to give presentations and become more confident speakers over time. The greater tech community is going to see Thankful Dolphin Space Exploration as an interesting place to work where people solve challenging problems.
An engineering colleague was so excited by this initiative that she created a branch on one of the repositories where she started building a community calendar. You wonder how the project is coming along and so you ask the engineer every couple hours about the status.
Wat. Oh not this again….
You’re not scared of code and you know how to read a README file. You follow the instructions and quickly spin up the repository on your local machine. You switch to the branch your colleague is working on and observe the latest status. Every few hours, you pull the latest changes to your repository and see what’s been updated. With your ability to spin up the calendar locally, you can provide up-to-date feedback to your colleague without bugging her too often.
Plus, you get all of your colleagues jokes!
You don’t need to be an expert. You don’t need to spend eight hours a day coding. You don’t even need twenty years of experience. But, you’re going to be a much more valuable employee to your startup if you understand the basic foundation on which your company is built.
Same goes for you, engineers. Learn what your other colleagues do.