Non-Technical Founders: You Are Enough As You Are |


As a female founder, a lot of people ask me about how I overcame impostor syndrome. But I never felt it in regard to being a woman.

Nope. I felt like an impostor for another big reason: I am a non-technical founder focused on a highly technical problem in money movement.

As I worked to create and raise funds to launch Orum, I sought and heard lots of advice. Over and over, people — including many other women — told me, “To raise money, you need a technical co-founder. Better partner up with someone.”

I chose not to do that.

The Non-Technical Founder Challenge

Why couldn’t I just hire for that skill set, the same way I would for product or marketing, or sales? If I had been a technical founder, would anyone have told me during fundraising, “I don’t think you understand marketing, so go get a co-founder who does”?

Of course not. I knew that. But the non-technical founder comments did get to me once in a while. A sliver of doubt would sneak in. I felt isolated. I wondered if investors would agree with me. Fortunately, they did; Orum has raised millions in funding and I’m grateful to be four years into our success. But I remain concerned about the message our culture sends to non-technical people with a great idea. 

The Value of Diverse Skill Sets

I applaud all the people who write code. It’s an amazing talent, and one I’d love to have. But there are just as many amazing, talented people who don’t write code. Are we really telling them their incredible business idea isn’t feasible because they didn’t go to school for computer science?

We’d lose out on so many wonderful innovations. Plus — for so many nuanced, complex, long-entrenched reasons — many women and people of other underrepresented groups in particular don’t obtain a computer science degree or become engineers. Why should they be further held back?

It’s an artificial limit and one we all must work to bust. Some successful founders are technical; some have a different type of specific domain knowledge; some are powerful generalists.

What they all have in common: Successful founders know how to hire people who are great at the things they’re not great at. 

And they hold the overall vision, which is crucial. Any project — a movie, a construction site, a company — needs someone who sees the entire picture and knows how to orchestrate resources to achieve the mission. That’s your core goal. 

A technical founder can build the most perfect, beautiful product pixel by pixel — but if they don’t master sales, marketing, and distribution, there is no business and they will not succeed. Whether you’re technical or non-technical, there will be many gaps that you as a founder must fill with purposeful hiring.

Embrace Being a Non-Technical Founder

So, my fellow non-technical founders: You are not impostors. Just like your engineering counterparts, you possess incredible skill sets and must hone the ability to hire for those you don’t possess.

You have nothing to explain away, no shortfall to try to fill with a co-founder partnership you may not desire. You are enough — more than enough — just as you are. 

Stephany Kirkpatrick

Founder & CEO, Orum

Ready to move?Let’s talk.