Why Learning to Code is Irrelevant if You’re a Founder

Mallory Merrill


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The search to find the perfect developer for your new app idea can be never-ending. Finding a great developer who’s also willing to drop all of their current projects to help bring your dreams to life adds another layer of difficulty.

Instead of continuing this search, you might have decided that it’s time learn how to start coding yourself. After all, then you’ll be able to build your very own app from scratch, without having to spend time searching for a technical co-founder.

But what might seem like a good idea on the surface can actually derail your app.

Below we dive into a few reasons that learning to code might be a waste of your time as a founder.

1. Startups Don’t Fail Because of Bad Code


Photo credit: Dariusz Sankowski

It’s a rare occurrence that a startup will fail because of the codebase itself. More likely, a startup will fail because it doesn’t fill a need in the market where people are willing to pay for (or actually use) your app.

As a founder thinking that you need to learn to code can even be a form of procrastination. Instead of hitting the streets, talking to potential customers about your app, and validating your idea, you’re teaching yourself the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

A better course of action is to focus on the skills you do have as a startup founder. Your interpersonal skills, your ability to delegate, your capacity to come up with large-scale visions and tantalizing ideas. Think of all the skills you have that you can maximize and further develop that don’t pertain to the actual development work.

Once you have a list down, then it’s time to ask yourself how these skills can help grow your business. Instead of wasting months (or years) becoming proficient with coding, use your time wisely to maximize the core business skills you already have.

2. You Can Rely on the Success of Other Platforms

You can launch your idea out into the world with nothing more than a simple landing page. Dropbox launched to the world with nothing more than a simple explainer video. Mint.com started in the same manner. The first version of their website was nothing more than a simple email signup form. Thanks to Noah Kagan you can even view the initial landing pages here.

It’s always a smart decision to spend time validating your idea before you spend any money during the development process. You can easily build a landing page with tools like Unbounce, or Leadpages. These tools allow you to easily create a simple website, which you can then send traffic to, or direct people to, to see if your idea sticks.

If there’s interest in your initial offering, then you’ve validated that people are willing to pay (or at least use) the app you’re considering developing. This will end up saving you a lot of time and money in the long run.

3. You Can Test Without a “Working” App

If you have your heart set on building an app, and have hopefully done some initial validation, then you can actually build that app without writing a single line of code. There are a variety of apps and online tools that will allow you to create a mockup of your app that will actually mimic the final working version.

To get started with the prototyping process we recommend you begin by drafting your user stories. We recommend reading this post for a primer on why user stories matter and how you can create them yourself.

Once you have your user stories written you can then use an app such as, Marvel or Proto to creating a working prototype of your app. You’ll have to spend some time getting the design elements and basic functionality right, but you’ll end up with a “working” app you can then preview on your phone, or any other device.

This is a great way to obtain initial feedback, as you can have people use your prototype to see if it actually solves their problem. As a bonus, once you’ve created your prototype and user stories, you’ll have a great idea of how your app is actually going to function.

Crafting user stories, wireframing your app, and building a working prototype will allow you to understand the development process, even though you don’t know how to code.

4. You Can Easily Outsource Development (When Ready)


Photo credit: Lee Campbell

Best of all, you can outsource the entire development process once the timing is right. This means you won’t waste any time trying to learn to code yourself, or getting shot down pitching your idea to developers. Plus, by outsourcing the development for the right team (aka DevSquad), you’ll have a team of expert developers at your disposal.

This means you’ll have a high-quality, working app that won’t be filled with any bugs. Chances are, the app won’t reach its potential if you’re trying to code the app yourself and don’t have years of development experience.

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