What is a tech entrepreneur and what skills and traits do they need to have? That is a question I have been asking myself over the past year at various conferences I have attended on behalf of Irish Tech News. Having met numerous start-ups at these conferences, I have noticed a number of start-ups have two co-founders and I find myself always asking them who is Jobs and who is Wozniak, referring to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak the co-founders of Apple.Wozniak invented the first personal computer the Apple 1 and he was the tech brains behind Apple, whilst Jobs was the marketing genius who knew how to promote and sell the products that Wozniak developed and also get investors on board. Ideally every start-up should have a Jobs and also a Wozniak as they both bring different skill sets that are needed if their business is to succeed. Developing a great product is only half the battle, as you have to also make sure that you are noticed amongst the other start-ups vying for attention and that you can explain to investors and prospective clients what your start-up actually does.
I have also noticed various start-ups whose co-founders don’t come from a tech background yet taught themselves how to turn a great idea into reality. One such co-founder is Jules Coleman from Hassle.com, the website that allows you to hire a cleaner. Jules had an idea for a website that allowed you to book people who offered different services such as dog walking or personal training. She took a three month leave of absence from PwC, so that she could teach herself the computer programming language Ruby on Rails, before she went on to develop the website that became Hassle.com.
I have also met start-ups whose co-founders are not like Jules and will contract someone to develop their website or app. If you are not very tech savvy, your naivety will shine through and you will be ripe for exploitation, resulting in your developer taking you for a ride and charging you exorbitant fees, as they will make various suggestions that you will happily go along with since you assume they are the experts.
Various stories I have heard first-hand include developers demanding full payment upfront and testimonials for their websites before they have completed the job they were hired to do, and even charging extra for a customer login page which should come as standard.
If your start-up’s co-founders aren’t from a tech background, or are not too tech savvy you can either bring another somebody else on board permanently who can bridge that gap, or you can spend time researching what you want so that you won’t be taken for a ride by freelance developers. It all comes back to the question I always ask start-ups who is Jobs and who is Wozniak?