Thoughts on Making Your Startup Journey Without a Technical Co-founder
Friday 9th December
No technical co-founder? No problem. JOEL BURGESS, founder and CEO of Nutrifix shares his ongoing journey towards delivering personalised nutrition, all without a technical co-founder.
I had problems with losing weight for a charity boxing fight I was training for. I tracked what I ate but soon found I simply did not have the time to record what I ate throughout the day. I ended up retrospectively recording what I ate to see how many calories I had remaining before dinner. Inevitably, I was over on fats and carbs and had enough space for a few peas!
To overcome this I had the same lunch every day as I knew it fitted my nutritional needs. This soon got boring and I couldn’t always find that particular meal whilst working throughout London. I put together a spreadsheet of the nutritional information from some grab and go operators in London. Whilst I appreciate this was a little sad, it solved my problem, as I knew which meals I should be eating.
At the time I was a part-time personal trainer and I wanted to see if it was of interest to my clients. I ended up selling the spreadsheet along with some recipes for £75. My ‘aha’ moment came when I realised it wasn’t just me that found this information useful! In fact, I soon realised it was solving a bigger problem than I had known. The problem being twofold; people simply don’t have the time to scour the streets to look for a healthy lunch, nor do they often know what they should be eating.
As a result Nutrifix was born! Utilising location-based tracking, Nutrifix will locate a meal tailored to your nutritional needs for you to buy, have delivered or make from a recipe. Knowing firsthand the struggle of eating healthy whilst living a busy life, I am determined to develop a product that solves this and makes eating healthy easy. I want to reach as many people as possible, and through testing, know that an app gives everyone access to healthy eating on the go. We are still in the very early stages of development and are currently testing the app with alpha users, aiming to launch in the New Year.
Even though I didn’t have a technical co-founder, I decided to move forward with Nutrifix because I truly believe in it. I knew I had to take the risk of starting my own business with the ideas and resources I had. Of course, the challenges of not having a technical co-founder are huge, but not insurmountable. Here are some key practices that helped me cope with not having a technical co-founder.
Joel on coping without a technical co-founder
Don’t rush into things
Not having someone else like a technical co-founder inherently invested in the business is the biggest challenge. There is always the risk that an outsourced developer isn’t going to work as hard as a technical co-founder. I didn’t want to rush into anything without having a strong relationship and trust built with someone who I was going to be starting a business with. You want to find someone who is a good fit for you and your business, and trust that with time you will find the right person. Having a partner who’s invested in the product, and whose skills are complementary to my own would be beneficial to the business. I am optimistic I will find this soon!
Run non-technical tests to validate your business
I decided to begin with running non-technical tests before finding someone technical. The biggest test I ran was a personal concierge service mimicking what the app could do. I offered this to a few clients. I worked out where they were working, what healthy food operators were near, and what meals they should be eating. I then texted them before lunch advising what meal they should buy and then a recipe to make before walking home. People loved the service and all lost the weight they wanted. I could have continued the service to 50-100 clients, but I knew that through tech I could have a far bigger reach and impact on people’s lives.
Do your homework, and lots of it
I recommend doing your research. In place of not having the technical co-founder, I immersed myself in everything tech I could get my hands on. I read a lot and went to as many tech meet-ups as I could. I asked lots of questions and surrounded myself with people that were knowledgeable and helpful. In hindsight, I would have gone to a coding course for the hands-on experience and foundation I wanted.
It is so easy to see success as being something that happens overnight. I wish founders would speak more to their struggles and the realities of starting their own business. It is incredibly time-consuming, and there are always setbacks and sacrifices to any startup, which is what, we aspiring entrepreneurs want to know.
Joel did his first ever pitch for Nutrifix at our Just Eat Accelerator Programme Pitching Breakfasts during London Food Tech Week 2016. He was also the first person to pitch on the very first day of Pitching Breakfasts — not the usual pressure for a first-time pitcher! He went on to place in the finals and was accepted to the inaugural Just Eat Food Tech Accelerator Programme. Learn more about Nutrifix here.
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