Learning to Code Can Be Key to Startup Success

Susan Hall
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Top 15 In-demand IT Skills in Today's Market

Pikimal CEO Eric Silver told me about undergoing a self-imposed crash course in coding as he attempted to get a site together to attract investors. Increasingly coding is seen as a basic skill, especially useful to entrepreneurs.


Mexican entrepreneur Cristian Castillo, co-founder of instaDM, a messaging service for Instagram, tells Business Insider why he thinks it's important to avoid investors. It is a view that Sramana Mitra, a technology entrepreneur and strategy consultant in Silicon Valley, shared in an interview with my colleague Ann All.


Castillo's plan is to develop 10 apps a year and learn quickly which ones he should spend more time on. He's quoted as saying:

What I'm able to do is avoid investors and fail quickly, and move as needed. At some point, in the past, I tried to go the 'easy' route and hire other people to do the coding, but the product takes longer and it's worse.

Meanwhile, Alexey Komissarouk, a computer science senior at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of the PennApps Hackathon, at TechCrunch urges entrepreneurs to stop looking for a technical co-founder:

Most quality software engineers today have offers of amazing work environments and 6-figure salaries from the likes of Google and Facebook. Few are crazy enough to say no to that. Those that do typically have their own ideas, aren't sure they need you, and have heard enough cliche pitches to ignore you by default.

He recommends learning to code:

Pick up coding. It's not that hard, and it pays off. How are you hoping to manage a technical team if you don't understand what they do?... Really don't want to learn to code? Hire an engineering team that has experience working with first-time non-technical founders.

Startups that outsource the work tend to go the least expensive route, he says, which doesn't turn out well, especially if the founders don't know how long the work should take. He quotes John Collison, co-founder of startup Stripe, as saying:

The problem with outsourcers is that to get a good job done, the level of detail you need in the spec often seems so high that you're basically writing pseudocode. You can't just give somebody a feature and say make it awesome.' At that level of detail, you might as well write the code yourself.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Apr 27, 2012 6:21 AM Ben Brumm Ben Brumm  says:

I think learning to code is a great idea when trying to develop a startup. It's one thing to get it outsourced, either through a consulting company or an online coding company, but it's more beneficial to do it yourself, especially if it's for the long term.


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