Do online businesses need to have a tech founder?


I have an idea for a website/online business that I would like to create. None of the technology is groundbreaking by any stretch of the imagination, I have seen it done a million times. With a custom content management system and a few other tools, will I be able to adequately manage a business like this, without a tech founder in the inner circle? If I just have a good, small design/development team will I be okay?

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asked Sep 19 '11 at 04:06
182 points
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  • My hunch would be no. PS: accepting answers to your questions motivates ppl to asnwer and as of now, you have NOT accepted a single answer to either of the 5 questions u asked before this. Consider improving your accept rate. If you're not satisfied with those answers leave an appropriate comment there so that someone can respond accordingly. That would in turn help you only. :) – Atul Goyal 12 years ago

3 Answers


No you don't need to technical person to start an online business. But its helpful and important you have some technical person on your side to back you up. It is however important you speak to technical people and develop at least some basic technical knowledge, so you know how technical side of your business works.

There are cases some of them I know where people starting online businesses are not from the technical side and contract the technical side to an external sources or take on a technical person as a minority or equal shareholder in their business.

If you have a new idea that you think will work go for it. I would also make sure you have NDA's signed before disclosing any details about your idea to the technical person as it might happen he would just take your idea and walk away to work on his own.

answered Sep 19 '11 at 11:19
Peter K.
194 points


I think you would need a tech founder if you are starting a tech business. It is very hard to manage others in a field that you don't understand.

I think your options are to get a tech founder, or become one. You are not born tech or not, if you don't want another founder, start learning.

answered Sep 19 '11 at 09:39
Joel Friedlaender
5,007 points
  • There seems to be a blur though. What is a "tech" business exactly? Just because a business is online, does it qualify as a "tech" business? I had always thought of tech businesses as businesses who were actually creating new technology (with a lot of heavy lifting) as opposed to someone like myself, who would just be harnessing existing/mature technology and applying it to a different business model – Jdh 12 years ago
  • You mention you are going to have a small design/development team, to me that is a tech business. I have been a developer, and also spent many years as a manager of a development team, I would really not want to be managing work that I don't really understand. Nothing is impossible of course, but you will need very strong people management skills to pull it off (it really is a whole skill set on it's own). – Joel Friedlaender 12 years ago
  • My product needs to be shipped and I have an individual that coordinates with FedEx, UPS, and drop shippers. Does that mean I am in the logistics business? – Joseph Barisonzi 12 years ago
  • For your analogy to be accurate, you would have a small team within your business that actually does the shipping (not just coordinating the outsourcing). – Joel Friedlaender 12 years ago


Clay Shirky has a saying that Internet technologies don't become socially interesting until they become technologically boring. Using a CMS to create an online business is technologically boring now.

And so I don't think you need a tech founder. You should definitely have access to tech resources and possibly someone on your board of advisors, however. You just need someone you can trust to make sure that you're not being steered in the wrong direction.

Every business needs a whole collection of disciplines and talent in order to succeed; technical, marketing, sales, management, etc... Does that mean you need a founder in each of those disciplines? Of course not. I think technology is vastly overrated by startups. The focus needs to be on marketing and execution.

answered Sep 19 '11 at 20:27
Jon Di Pietro
1,697 points
  • Thanks so much Jon, that's the kind of answer I've been looking for – Jdh 12 years ago

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