Does Your Startup Need a Business Founder or a Technical Founder?
By Samantha Lloyd
A company needs many types of leaders to function and to succeed. Often, a leader is capable of being creative or being business oriented or being a great technical founder. Not many people are all-encompassing, and that’s okay. It’d be a lot of work to take on all those positions, especially when there are people suited to handle those types of role.
Often, a technical founder may find that he or she lacks in the business management side of a company, and then decide to source a professional CEO to run the company. While a technical founder doesn’t always make for the best business mind, the startups that are the most successful are often led by a technical founder that recognize this gap in his or her abilities and hire leaders to balance out their skillset.
It takes a very capable person to recognize that they cannot do it all and hire the necessary people to bridge those gaps to push their company through to success. It’s not always easy to release control of something you’ve built, and there’s a lot of respect given to founders who realize their need to hire a professional leader.
Who or What is a Technical Founder?
A technical founder is a behind-the-scenes builder of our modern hardware and software companies. Most startup founders are actually encouraged not to look for a technical co-founder and become their own technical founder. By being a technical founder, you understand the intricacies of what you’ve built from day one. You know every element and piece and how to redesign or iterate when necessary.
However, it is imperative for a technical fonder to be willing to learn. A technical founder often takes on the role of CTO once the product or service or application becomes a startup venture, though the CEO is a viable option, as well.
The technical founder is a leader who wants the piece of technology they’ve built to succeed and the company leading it to take it further than they ever imagined possible. Sometimes, they are the right person to drive that, and other times there is someone better suited. Hiring the best talent benefits your company from top-down.
Did you know that attending leading startup events and tech conferences can transform your startup for the better? It's true! Startup best practices indicate that exhibiting your startup at leading events such as Web Summit, TNW, SXSW, RISE, TechSparks, and TechCrunch Disrupt can boost its global visibility, especially in the early stages.
Who or What is a Business or Non-Technical Founder?
Not everyone is willing or able to take on the challenge of being their own technical founder. Just as not every technical founder is capable of being a business leader. Sometimes, you need to accept what you can and can’t do and find a person or people who can balance you out.
A business leader has a more typical entrepreneurial skill set and is often thought of as the leader or the salesperson who keeps an eye on the day-to-day going and sets broad goals. The business leader’s job is to make sure everyone is working towards the same goal.
If you’ve been brought on to lead a technical founder’s creation, you have quite the exciting responsibility. As a leader, especially a CEO, even if you can’t build what you technical founder did, you should have an understanding of what was built and how. This gives you an understanding of the product when discussing at events, with clients, or with investors. It also helps you to put across constructive ideas and thoughts to your technical founder about product changes.
If You’re a Technical Founder Who Wants to Remain Technical
As a technical founder, despite your exciting contributions to a successful company, you may not always be keen to be front-facing. You’ve hired a business founder for a reason – you want to keep building and creating without feeling the need to inspire, lead, or face the public. Despite this, you should still strive to become a thought leader in a way that feels authentic to you. Connect with your audience and encourage other technically-inclined individuals to launch their companies with complete confidence.
So, if you’re a technical founder who doesn’t really want the spotlight, how do you put yourself out there in a way that’s authentic to you? Start by setting up some basics such as a website about who you are and your social media channels that you’ll gladly maintain to connect with your audience. Your social media channel, for example, could be LinkedIn where you share articles you’ve written about your experience as a founder.
You will also need a domain name. The .TECH domain extension is a great place for your company’s technical founder to host their personal brand online. It’s unique, spells out exactly what they’re involved in and their industry, and what would be better than owning companynamefounder.tech or yournameischief.tech or a similarly creative branding domain name?
With so many domain name options such as .ONLINE, ,WEBSITE, .SITE, and .SPACE now available, there is ample opportunity for a technical founder to create a digital presence for themselves.
A Balance of Business & Technical for a Startup
The truth is, you cannot hope to lead a company without having a balance of skills in your company’s executive team. It’s important that your leaders have an idea of what each person contributes to the company and how they work for one another’s’ and the company’s overall goals.
Many types of leadership styles exist that help companies thrive and it’s important to accept whether or not you can adopt a leadership style to be a successful leader. Each executive will have their role when leading a company but make sure all your executive team is known, putting themselves out there, and showing their important contributions that make your company succeed.
Samantha is a digital marketing expert and entrepreneur. She currently works for Tucows, taking on the content marketing role for their subsidiary, Hover. She loves filling you in on the booming tech industry of Toronto, and beyond. When she’s not working, she lives for travel and the ocean and is always looking for a chance to dive, snorkel, and recently – *attempting* to surf!