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Having studied software engineering for five years at University and then working professionally on IT related projects for another seven years, I have an appreciation of the difficulties of technology and projects. It’s not that easy.

Don’t get me wrong, it IS easy to build any lame old product, but it’s exceedingly difficult to build a quality software product. And that’s why you have companies like Google and Amazon, which were worth zero dollars and fifteen years later are worth 350 billion dollars. It’s because they’re able to implement software well and have extremely talented engineers working for them.

Hence I admit I’m often disappointed when I see things like the image below. Basically the advertiser has ‘an idea’ and is looking for a ‘technical co-founder’ who is ‘able to accept constructive criticism’ and accept a ‘CEO’ who is in charge. Translation; I need someone to do all the programming (ie. grunt work) while I hover over your shoulder and be the big boss.

The advertiser touts her skills as ‘marketing’ and ‘business development’ but if you’re working on releasing a software product, then I would say the majority of the time will be spent on building the software product itself. Good software takes thousands of hours of development and even then, it can still be highly flawed. This isn’t to say that marketing/business development is unimportant, it certainly is, but the product won’t build itself and an incredible amount of time and effort needs to be thrown at it.

So what kind of marketing and business development can you do when you don’t have a product yet? Not much. If you’re at day one of a startup, and are without a product, then your focus is on building the Minimum Viable Product MVP. In the end, the non-technical co-founding advertiser will be left with only a supervising responsibility.

Practically speaking, the relationship of a supervisor and implementer is akin to one of master and slave. The master commands how the work should proceed, and watches as the slave produces the output. Needless to say, this kind of relationship is demeaning to the technical co-founder, and it’s certainly an unsustainable situation long term. I’d go so far as to say that any start up established with this kind of power dynamic is absolutely doomed to failure.

In general, I do think that non-technical people tend to completely underestimate the efforts, skill and time required to implement a software product. If you’re doing a software startup, it’s important to realise that implementation is of incredible importance. Hence, the guy doing the implementation, ie. the developer, absolutely deserves a healthy amount of respect and should be treated as an equal.

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