A Prolific Technologist Scared Me Into Learning 4 Things

As a non-technical founder, I seek out opportunities to learn from highly technical people. Recently, I did a walk & talk to get to know a Machine Learning rockstar. What he said scared the daylights out of me:

1 – “Your business will fail because you don’t have a technical co-founder.”

2 – “You should learn how to code and build the product yourself.”

3 – “No one wants to see a clickable prototype, they want to see something that works right now”

4 – “You need a technical star like me but I won’t work for you.”

Fundamental beliefs had been thrown off their axes. I couldn’t think straight.

After two hours walking the dog outdoors while on the phone with my inner circle, I realized that this is the essence of the founder journey – learning from all sorts of super talented people and synthesizing into our business strategies.

More specifically, here’s what I took away from this conversation:

1 – Technical people can and will say things that scramble your brain, but that doesn’t mean the words apply to your situation.

2 – It’s important to be able to have strong opinions, weakly held.

3 – The problems we’re looking to solve aren’t technically daunting, they require the right combination of

industry expertise (credibility), design and technical capabilities.

4 – When engaging with very sophisticated technical talent, I must do a better job of

being much more specific in my questions and requests for feedback.

Between vendors, partners, early employees and advisors who are all growing in influence and involvement, we have more than enough to achieve what we need to in the medium-term. It’s important, at times, to stop reaching, stop seeking, and know that you, and what you’re building, is enough.

In other words, keep on, keeping on!



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