One of my biggest realizations having been in the trenches of a startup for 2.5 years was this: you will not be very helpful if you cannot code pre product market fit. At my previous startup, my CEO was also the CTO. So when he was out fund raising, development essentially grounded to a halt.
In any case, at the very early stages of a startup, what are you going to do if you can’t code? There are only that much research/admin/strategy/cust. dev/misc work a non-technical person can do. I also do not think division of labour works very well at the early stages. It’s the kind of thing you do when you got scale and need expertise. Right at the beginning, you got nothing but a gut feeling about something and what needs doing is the building of a prototype to validate those feelings.
Therein lies my problem. I can’t code ergo I have a major liability if I wanted to do another startup. At a ripe ol’ age of 27, I needed to turn into a hacker and fast.
The term hacker has the usual connotations: near genius IQ, scant regard for authorities, young whiz kid types and depending on whether you’ve seen Swordfish, blowjobs. I have exactly none of those attributes (ok, bjs aren’t an attribute but whatever). It helps that I have chosen a more functional definition of a hacker — that is someone who does a hackjob that is just barely good enough to get the job done. No more, no less.
In a bid to accelerate my learning progress, I’ve took to cold emailing startups who code in Python, hoping for a sort of internship/apprenticeship type gig. I can count with 2 hands the number of startups that made the shortlist. Luckily for me, the kind folks at Insync (google docs sync, not the band) took me in. So this marks the start of my journey from zero to hacker. I’ll be posting my learnings along the way so if you’re interested, check back!