I asked my technical cofounder to set up a simple email opt-in form for people to sign up as beta users for our startup. Whenever anyone submitted their information, an email would be sent to both my tech cofounder and I to alert us of a new sign-up.
Although all we had was a simple coming soon page and a video, I began spreading the message far and wide. We both received our first “You have a new signup (beta user)!” email that day. Hundreds more piled in the next few days.
Signups were my new form of “motivation” currency. Every user that signed up made developing and launching the project more and more urgent. Whereas before we were the only two people excited to launch our startup, now hundreds of other people were excited and waiting for us to launch.
It's a good start, but...
“Other things” is my way of saying: I felt useless. I could whip up a design and could dabble with simple HTML and CSS, but was too much of a novice to contribute to the back-end code. And unfortunately, at this point, most of the work that needed to be done heavily relied on the back-end.
If you think all the work that needs to be done is coding, you've probably not planned your startup right. Go back and list the hypotheses and order them by uncertainty/risk. Unless you're doing rocket science, "can we build this thing?" should be somewhere near the bottom, and is the only question that may require a long, uninterrupted stretch of coding.
In pretty much every case, there will be more non-coding work to do than coding work. In a tech startup, there will certainly be a number of coding sprints, but those should be interspersed with feedback gathering and other customer development exercises, even in a B2C startup. And you don't need to be technical to do customer development.
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