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This article was published on June 2, 2011

Non-technical co-founder? You’re more than lunch delivery.

Non-technical co-founder? You’re more than lunch delivery.
Tomer Tagrin
Story by

Tomer Tagrin

Tomer is a young and highly motivated entrepreneur. The co-founder of Yotpo- Social Reviews platform for e-commerce websites.Tomer is an Int Tomer is a young and highly motivated entrepreneur. The co-founder of Yotpo- Social Reviews platform for e-commerce websites.Tomer is an Internet junkie, a dog person and a computer geek. Follow @Yotpo

For a couple of weeks now, I have been walking with a strange feeling inside. To tell the truth, it’s a feeling that even now sounds ridiculous to me … that maybe I’m not doing enough!

A week ago, I saw a video with Meebo’s founder at TechCrunch. In one part he talked about being the non-coding guy in the Meebo pre-launch. He said that in pre-launch time, he used to bring the coding guys sandwiches and be there for morale.

That is actually what led me to this article … this guilty feeling and also the fact that I absolutely disagree with him. Thinking my best use of time is only to bring food is just something I can’t agree with. Don’t get me wrong, the non-coding founder has work, but the  pressure/adrenaline is way different from the rest of the team. In the end you feel, at least it makes me feel, a bit on the sidelines.The biggest problem is that I can’t go to potential customers because we don’t have a product yet and a cool Prezi will get you somewhere, but not enough to close a sale.

So I started writing what I’m doing in hope to find what else I can do:

  • Bring sandwiches
  • Blogging, SEO (try to build our community and establish Yotpo as a true source of knowledge … a very difficult task but pre-launch, in my opinion, is not that time consuming)
  • Administrative work (accounting, updating investors, buying equipment and a few more boring tasks)
  • Creating future sales material
  • Researching potential partnerships and markets
  • Office moral (I know, Omri and Ran, you guys are funny, too)
  • Introduction meetings with potential customers (we are based in Israel so our local market is quite small, taking a flight just for a presentation seems to be a waste of money)
  • HR (contacting interesting engineers we want to work with)

As you can imagine, I have some spare time; not a lot, but I have some. I started thinking what will be our next non-tech problem and how I can solve it today … before it’s actually an issue. After reading the excellent report over on Startup Genome, I think I have the answer: Customer discovery. Which segment feels the problem we are solving the most?  Which segment can  decide fast to work with us? As Paul Graham said, “understanding your market segment is a question of who needs you the most and how fast they can act and start working with you.”

For us, there are three main segments (that I think Yotpo should address), from which our User review system will have great value:

  • E-commerce: Not the big ones, but the medium tale and long tale, the ones which are not able to generate their own reviews and understand the value that reviews add to their conversion rate
  • Bloggers: Mainly bloggers who write about iPhone apps/laptops/TVs, or any other product review. We can add valuable content to their posts and offer a new way to generate revenue from their blog
  • Mobile Startups: We were addressed by some mobile startup founders who asked if we can give them a tool to present quality opinions about their app on the company homepage. We give a new user the experience of showing what other users thought about the company app.

The customer discovery process is really difficult without getting real feedback. Real feedback require a paying customer, so for now I’m just sending a simple video and some emails to get responses. To tell you the truth I’m not sure our customer discovery will be very good without a finished product, but I hope starting now will give us a more focused direction. I’m trying to find new ways to improve our customer discovery process pre-launch and that give me a new challenge to face.

I’m sure there is a lot more I can do to be a more productive co-founder; If anyone has suggestions, please do tell …

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