Advices to me (10 years ago), or technical founders with no working experiences

p.s. this is a GPT rewrite of a Facebook post of mine at 2020

As I look ahead to next year’s business challenges, I’m reflecting on my own background and path in the software industry. One thing I realized is, when I started up Oursky 10 years ago, 3 founders all with engineering backgrounds (we all graduated from CUHK with an Information Engineering degree), despite all the pivots we made, we were like 95% destined to do software development and consulting.

I used to wonder why some products with poor user experiences and bugs can still succeed. With recent years experiences in B2B SaaS Products, now I see that if it solves a desperate enough pain point, customers overlook bugs and poor UX.

Here is how the IT industry works: when you sell development services, the customer sees you for your IT expertise - not necessarily as problem solvers. To sell a product, we must deeply understand customer issues beyond software itself. They’re looking for total solutions, even assuming you will teach them something about their industry or processes.

So here is my advice to technical yet inexperienced founders (like myself 10 years ago), here are a few realistic paths you can take:

  1. Build something only the top 3% of developers can build and get acquired.
  2. Build simple tools for yourself as a user, focused more on marketing than advanced technology. This is very tough, but very rewarding if you enjoy a lifestyle business. (Search “Indie Startups”)
  3. Partner with someone or immerse yourself in an industry to apply your tech, but this can be risky and time-consuming. Be humble with empathy.
  4. Consider freelancing, it could strike a pretty good work-life balance as well if you’re good – don’t ever try to grow beyond 10 people though.
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