I want to start a social network company but I know nothing about programing


I have some ideas for a social network and really want to start a company. But I don't know how to program.

Should I learn or just find a technical partner? I know founders of tech giants like Microsoft, Google and Facebook are really good programmers. I'm afraid that it's too late for me to learn how to program. I'm already 24, and even if I learn there is no way for me to be like Mark Zuckerberg because I'm not talented like him.

So probably finding a good technical partner would be a better choice. But how should I cooperate with him? What role should I act in a company if I know nothing technical? In a situation like this, do I still have the chance to create a big company like Facebook by knowing nothing about programing?

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asked Jun 1 '11 at 21:40
Yc Wang
19 points
  • i'd worry about starting a company later and focus on implementing the idea, either by yourself, or with a co-founder with a proper agreement. The legal entity can be formed later as an LLC, or Inc. – Ron M. 13 years ago
  • "I'm already 24". I'm sorry, but that sounds naive. If you work steadily, by 26 you could be fairly good at programming and then you'd still be 4 years from 30. I know people who started from scratch at 35 and now have salable apps. Age should never be an excuse, but 24 should *really* never be an excuse. – Chelonian 13 years ago
  • If you consider you need 10 years to master anything 24 is rather old to start a career as a full time programmer. But you don't need to become a full time programmer; Build your product and then, when you have some cash flow, hire a programmer. – Jsz 12 years ago
  • @jsz, that's nuts, sorry. I got out of the US Army at age 32, got my 2-year programming degree at 35, and am still coding 25 years later. It didn't take 10 years for mastery, either. Maybe I'm a genius, but I don't think so. A 24-year old who thinks he is too old to start something has an attitude problem, not an age problem. Colonel Sanders started KFC when he was 65, fer cryin' out loud. – Cyberherbalist 12 years ago

10 Answers


The key roles in a startup are writing code and finding users. If you can't code, then your role will be to find users. As the one finding users, you will have more say in what the site does.

The question to ask yourself, then, is, "..how will you find users?"
That leads to the next question, which is, "...why will users want to use your site?"

This will lead to more questions.

Then after doing all that you'll have to answer the question, "...why not use Facebook or Ning instead?"

If you still want to build your own site, then at least you will have a clear vision of what you want to do. Finding a programmer to build it should be straight-forward.

answered Jun 2 '11 at 01:29
Jay Godse
381 points
  • I love this: "writing code and finding users". It doesn't get more succint than that, but it's so true, and hopefully simple enough for everyone to understand. Great advice. – Alain Raynaud 13 years ago


I think you are putting the cart in front of the horses. You are only talking about starting your own company ...

  • What value will you bring to your customers?
  • What do you do that no one else already offers, what is your uniqueness?
  • How do you imagine your clients to pay - for what and how much?

Those are questions I would ask BEFORE partnering with a technical companion or thinking about your role in your start up.

Please do seriously consider creating a business plan with a business model and a business case or you are running a high risk of being a start up that will fade in a matter of hours, days or weeks at max.

As a start you could read the following book which helped me quite a bit recently:
Business Model Generation this book should give you a good starting point.

answered Jul 12 '11 at 19:06
Marcus K
48 points


When you are not a programmer but would like to create a social network, you might want to start up with Ning.com.

You can setup your network. If your idea and user base grow, you might find an investor or interested programmers in helping you setting up own software.

Social Networks are very hard to program, especially when they are big.

You'll need a broad knowledge of different technologies, like Database, Networks, Clouds, the Programming Language itself or even more and so on. It doesn't hurt to learn, because you can express your ideas better. But before you can start to programm an own social network you will need up to 10 years of practice.

Therefore I would recommend you to startup with Ning or something in that direction. Probably you can build up a smaller kind of network with some Open Source tools.


answered Jun 2 '11 at 02:57
3,590 points


There are a few ways:

  1. Hire a programmer and start from scratch - very expensive but 100% customizable
  2. Buy a software customize it further. There are many social network software like phpfox, socialengine, datingsitebuilder.....This will save you lot of money but you have to choose the right social networking software. This usually cost $99+.
  3. Use hosted solutions like Ning, SocialGo, socialsitecreator...this is the most affordable solution. They usually provide a full package that includes the social networking software, templates, hosting, and support. You only pay one low monthly fees like $30/month.
answered Jul 12 '11 at 13:50
11 points


Setting up a social network is more than just programming. There are going to be a lot of technical issues besides just coding that you will need to deal with. There are issues like domain name registration, data center management, server configuration, load balancers, databases, email servers, etc, etc.

That said, those are just hurdles to overcome. A business is always based upon a good idea. Providing a service, building a better widget, etc.

If you believe you have a great idea to build a better facebook than go for it. Do the research to find out if there's a market for what you want to do and create your business plan.

Team up with a good techie to handle the IT stuff and you be the business side and build your dream.

answered Jun 1 '11 at 23:12
Alan Barber
406 points
  • Facebook actually wrote their own version of pre-compiled PHP to get things running smoothly. definitely not a task for beginners. – Ron M. 13 years ago


Programmer here...

Social networks are actually pretty easy to write. It doesn't start to get tough until you have a really big userbase to worry about but at that point you'd likely have plenty of resources to pay an engineering team. There are open source social network projects out there that would be 99% of the work -- you'd just have to install a Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP setup, install the open source social network (there's tons of them) and customize from there.

In my mind, what you should probably be worried about is a.) your business model, and b.) your market. The social network space is extremely overcrowded so it is already difficult to get users. Beyond that they have network effects, so there is added benefit to a pre-established network. And perhaps worst of all, most of them have trouble turning a profit without either a.) pissing off their users, or b.) getting so huge that ads actually produce revenue. The only way to do it in my eyes is if you have some built-in thing you can sell, like a piece of premium functionality that might be easy to sell if the network were in a specific vertical, etc..

answered Aug 31 '11 at 08:50
279 points


The easiest and most likely the best option is to build your platform from within Facebook.

If for some reason you don't think that is the best option, then re-consider your choice about 50 times ... seriously. Maybe building within Facebook is the right way to do it. There are several very significant reasons why you should not build a social network from scratch and should use Facebook as the starting point.

You will need to work with talented developers whatever way you go. I recommend considering hiring from anywhere on the planet. We have a platform for that www.Staff.com where you can hire people from around the world and get talented developers at reasonable rates (for example in the Philippines you can get a great Facebook developer at $2,000 per month).

answered May 30 '12 at 23:07
151 points


I was 23 when I started learning to program and I'm working on a premium (paid version) relaunch of a very successful paid desktop program, plus I have a SaaS system in the works.

I knew I wanted to be a programmer when I was 8. This was ten years before I even got internet, and it took me even longer to remember that I wanted to be a programmer when I was most of the way through college. Now programming is what I'm learning to do both on my own time and at work, and I'm happy as a clam.

Regarding your idea, just start with the design, feel, features and business aspects of your network while you're learning to program. Along the way learn java or python and start working on the google app engine platform. That will get you a working prototype if your idea is feasible at all.

answered Jun 2 '11 at 00:34
Kort Pleco
891 points


You have two problems.

  1. General social networking is occupied by giant players (Facebook, friendster, LinkedIn[for professionals]). Success on that market would have to come from being original and/or addressing niche groups for social network connectivity.
  2. You can't program. Which is a problem. You could either develop your idea alongside your development skills. It won't be easy or fast - or you could get a co-founder who programs, but in that case, you'd be asked what's the value that you bring to the table. Being the "idea person" is good, but not enough. What will you do once the idea is implemented? can you sell, market? support? manage?

Either way. good luck with your venture.

answered Jun 2 '11 at 01:32
Ron M.
4,224 points


•Hire or DIY

In todays age we see many software programmes that anyone can use to build a Social Network.

Software- phpfox- Jomsocial- Social Engine - to name a few depending on your needs some offer more and others offer less. No developer skills needed just the time and persaverence.

Here is a small list of companies that host Online Social network builders

One of the best I have found (using atm) is

Socialgo followed by Ning- Spruz- Groupz- with many more out there that offer less than the ones mentioned

I like Socialgo due to its user friendliness, scaling, and great features. If you have no exp at it give it a whirl. There is a free trial but choose the Premium. It'll cost you $24.99 p/m (Premium still is a free trial and costs $24 if you go over the 1 month trial period but make sure you opt out prior to the end date and you will pay nothing, you can also take the add ons they are at no cost as long as you opt out near the end date)

Socialgo at its best is getting better with their Version 2 due at the end of July (can't wait)

Keep in mind that Mark Zuckerberg wasn't seeking fame and fortune. It just happened his lucky down fall was creating something for the PEOPLE This is something to be kept in mind.

Good luck

Qoute * While one man says I cant do this another is busy doing it.

answered Jun 14 '11 at 11:31
Jodi Von Oettingen
11 points

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