By Geri Stengel
How do you start a tech-enabled company when you’re not a techie? One way — but not the only way — is to find a technical co-founder. After Julie Auslander sold her business, she founded a new company, partnering with David Rifkin and with Ken Redler, who as CEO of a web development company had helped her take the old company into the modern era.
Their company — cSubs — is a technology company. It helps financial institutions, manufacturing companies, ad agency conglomerates, media firms and others manage the information resources they consume. It helps eliminate duplicate spending and manage site licenses more efficiently.
One of the companies it partners with to deliver its services is SAP Ariba. Auslander, cSubs president and chief culture officer, Redler, cSubs CTO and Annie Neubrech, COO and regional VP of SAP America, gave me some great tips on how non-technical founders can get the tech help they need in our wired world.
- Get with the program: most companies are tech-enabled
“Today almost every business is going to use technology to function optimally,” says Auslander. Chances are, you have a website to market and sell or you’re using technology internally to make systems flow more smoothly. Of Women Presidents’ Organization’s 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies, 39 planned to make capital investments in technology in 2016.
- Find a guide
“Technical people are a breed unto themselves,” says Auslander. “They speak their own language.” Auslander found a guide to that world in Redler. He has a foot in both worlds. He can speak both user needs and programming code. Who is going to be your guide? Will he or she be on staff or will you outsource?
- Kiss a lot of frogs
Whether you insource or outsource, “It’s like dating,” Auslander said. “You have to kiss a lot of them before you find your prince.” Redler was the CEO of the web developer for Auslander’s previous company. “We liked working together,” said Redler.
- Know your wants, resources, and ability
Bringing in a technical co-founder may not be the right solution for every company. Usually, a co-founder gets a piece of the company. Are you both comfortable with that? Or would you rather pay a salary? Cash flow projections will be part of the decision as to whether you want someone in-house every day or just need someone on call.
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