The subject is the question. How can someone who does not know how to code contribute to a startup? Do you recommend that that member attempt to learn some basic coding so as to contribute to the startup in some way? or do you think there are enough tasks that they can contribute to the startup in other ways...
Please, share any experiences or advice :)
I'm certain you'll find a ton of valuable advice and anecdotes in this Hacker News post asking the same question: Ask HN: What's a Non-Programmer to do? (134 Points, 78 Comments) Spencer fry wrote an entire blog post elaborating on his comment.
Many skills can be valuable to a software startup:
Another way to get involved is by investing capital which is not a skill per se ;)
Developing a product is only the start of the battle. Once you have it developed, then what happens?
Are people just going to line up on their own and buy it?
I doubt it. So, there are many roles needed, it depends on what you can do, and what you are willing to do.
For example, can you help handle the book-keeping, and keep things running smoothly? Perhaps it may help the developers not run out of fresh coffee, so, you may be able to help with that.
It really depends on what stage of development the startup is in. If you don't have a prototype, and you want to get investors based on the idea, then marketing may be more important than the developers.
If you could give an idea of what skills you have and what stage of development the application is at, then it may be easier to answer your question.
Depending on the trust level, there is plenty of work. Business side of things, market analysis, research of competing products, Q/A and Validation work, the list goes on.
If you have any experience in the industry the software is aimed at or you can relate to a typical user, you can provide insight into design, testing and marketing.
In Joel On Software, he talks about the Abstraction Layer which creates an environment where coders can focus on programming. Anything you can do to promote this will be a big help. Be available so they can grab you and do a "Hallway Usability Test" which is #12 on the Joel Test. From what I've heard/read, Steve Jobs did not make many programming contributions to Apple, but I think he had input in just about every other area of the business.
Try to learn some coding. You'll find out pretty quick if you want to pursue it any further.
I am an "operations guy" and have been in business operations almost my entire career in startups. Two of those startups were technology companies and here is where my value was:
First, you should figure out what you are good at. Trying to be a bean counter, when you're not, is a bad idea.
With technology startups, in the beginning, 99% of the work is programming. Most businesses start off as products. If you're not the programmer, you're probably bringing something else to the table, like money or some other skill or a lot of energy.
If money is not your thing, then you'll have to do everything else. With startups, the work never ends. This is not a bad thing. It's just a reality.
You can try and do all the odd and end jobs, but eventually, you'll have to make decisions. Making decisions is probably the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur. In the meantime, try and figure out how much you can outsource and keep directing traffic in your company.