Can a ‘non-tech’ make it in a tech start-up world?

Can a ‘non-tech’ make it in a tech start-up world?

Can a ‘non-tech’ make it in a tech start-up world?

Let’s say you’re a HR manager; maybe you even are a HR manager – even better.

You’re sitting at your desk, it’s 2.30PM on a Tuesday. You’re sipping a lukewarm coffee and considering the same problem you’ve had all week. ‘Why is it so hard to replace Dave from software design?’ I mean, okay – you don’t really understand what he did, but there must be other people out there who have the same qualifications.

The last person Natalie from Jobs ‘R’ Us sent over was technically able to do Dave’s job but was he didn’t really fit into the company culture and failed to hit targets… Six months’ salary and training time down the drain; not even mentioning 20% fee for Nat. Then you make an executive decision – getting yourself a fresh cup of coffee and staring into the distance for a while, you begin to psych yourself up. The next time Natalie from Jobs ‘R’Us sends over a candidate you won’t just briefly glance at their CV and LinkedIn. You’ll check their Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, google their name.  Screw it, you’ll credit check and CRB them if you have to, run the whole nine yards; really put aside an afternoon and get to know this person before even glancing at their CV.  No mistakes this time, not one.

Then you notice the 10 million unread emails in your inbox, you get to work and before you know it it’s 2.30PM on a Wednesday and your coffee’s gone cold again.

‘What the hell?!’, you think to yourself. The information is all out there! There must be a way to get it all together in some techy, data extracting app-y way.

‘Ahh well…’ you think, the new person Natalie has sent over looks good, she’ll probably be the one anyway. Besides who knows how to do all that tech stuff?!

The dream dies, you drink the cold coffee, the day carries on.

Luckily, there are quite a few people who don’t give up that easy. 

How many times in your life have you heard somebody pitch the idea for an app or technology to you, only to have them end it “How cool would that be”?  Or “It would be great if somebody made that”. Well it’s time to end the myth that you need to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, coding furiously in a darkened room for 20 hours straight, speaking and looking like a zombie covered in an algorithm slime, to run a successful tech company. The key to a successful start-up is, and has always been: find a problem – solve it. No coding required. Don’t believe me? Have a look at these tech-less wonders. Each one of them thriving in a tech marketplace without so much as a single megabyte of app development, coding languages or technology experience between them.

Coffee Meets Bagel, Arum, Dawoon, and Soo Kang

A dating app, founded by three sisters in their mid-twenties which focuses on the quality and safety of matches. Unlike it’s competitors, it’s dating algorithm matches people with mutual friends on social media and tilts the balance of control to the women, by giving them the final like or pass choice for a date.  Arum Kang, CEO and co-founder states “The online dating industry has always had difficulty attracting and retaining women…The key to winning this market and expanding the size of the pie is winning over women and we have figured that out at Coffee Meets Bagel.”

A dating app created by women in their mid-twenties who identified, by using dating apps, that a lot of women don’t like dating apps. Their solution: create a dating app that they would use, that they believe in. Knowing they weren’t alone with the problem they have identified demand for the solution. It’s that simple.

Raised $11.2 in 3 rounds of funding since 2012.

Airbnb, Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk

Airbnb, or to give it it’s first name ‘Air Bed and Breakfast’ is a global phenomenon. Hard to believe the original company premise was based on renting out three air mattresses in the founders apartment as a stop gap to help them pay rent. As design students, they did not have a clue on how to start a web based property share company and accompanying app but they did have a problem… They couldn’t afford to stay in San Francisco, it was too expensive. So when a big design conference came to San Francisco they knew how expensive it would be for young designers to get a hotel. They came up with a solution and made it work.

They had difficulties breaking into the market and tasted rejection more than once, but as they learned and finally begun to grow they used their strengths to back the business. They were designers, not coders.  When they started out the site wasn’t making money so pulling on their design background the team handmade Obama O’s and Cap’n McCains from existing cereals and sold them for $40 bucks a box on the street. Each box was a ‘limited edition’ and came with marketing material about Airbnb. They raised $30,000 to put toward the company, the first seed money they ever earnt.

Their recent funding round saw them raise $1,003,312,065, according to the filing @ a ridiculous $31 billion valuation.

Apple, do I even need to say… Steve Jobs

Now I’m not going to bother explaining what Apple brings to the market, but I will reinforce the oft touted fact… Steve Jobs had no real tech experience or knowledge. What he had was a drive, vision and Steve Wozniak. Jobs had a vision, he understood the power of computers but better, he understood how people wanted to interact with computers.

Not many can argue that Steve Jobs changed the face of technology forever; but not once did he write so much as a line of code for any Apple device. He had many failures and was even fired from his own company once but he kept his vision. What Steve Jobs really was, is the right person guiding the right team to the right vision. That is a key to a successful start-up. Identify strengths, know what you are aiming for and go get it.

So, what can we learn from these technologically-challenged juggernauts? I propose three lessons, one from each;

  1. If you live and breathe a widespread problem then you are not alone in needing a solution.
  2. Passion & hard work will carry you far, but only you can grow your start up your way. Use your strengths.
  3. The right person guiding the right team on the right vision can change the world.

So next time you’re sitting at your desk at 2.30PM on a Wednesday. Don’t say ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if somebody created that’. Be that someone, take a leap, Aspire.

Aspire is a new platform that utlises the power of technology & machine learning to change the way recruitment works. Forever. To request an invitation please enter your details below or visit



  • Somya Sahni on August 26, 2017

    Wooow ! Loved reading it ! I have always believed in this

    • justynaaspireappco on August 29, 2017

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. The doubt creeps in every now and again, but I do remind myself that what it takes is not tech. What it takes is me.

      • Somya Sahni on August 29, 2017

        Yes … You are right … totally right ! Its the idea and the end of the day and the will and risk to do it !

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