In the classroom, Avi Flombaum’s passion for programming and teaching is immediately clear—but there’s another side to Flatiron School’s Co-Founder and Dean that isn’t discussed as often: he’s an expert entrepreneur, having launched multiple startups over the years. His expertise in both coding and entrepreneurship allowed him to share a unique perspective on how the two disciplines relate in our online lecture “What Coding Can Teach Entrepreneurs,” co-presented by our friends at Draper University.
Here are three key takeaways that Avi offered entrepreneurs in the online lecture:
Avi stressed that even if you consider yourself the “idea guy” rather than a technical expert, there are huge advantages to knowing how to code. As an entrepreneur, you’ll be able to communicate more credibly with your technical team and attract better talent if you show you “speak their language” and have taken the time to understand what they do. Avi also points out that you can’t leverage technology that you don’t understand—learning to code can allow you to identify tools that add value to your product that your competitors might miss.
In programming, the default state is broken: if your program works, you’re not programming—you’re done for the day. According to Avi, running a startup isn’t so different: if there’s no problem for your startup to solve on a given day, he’s not sure what your startup is really doing. In his experience coding and running startups, for Avi, complaining about problems is like “shouting at the rain”—you can’t get mad at the challenges you run into, you just have to solve them.
Avi says the right time for aspiring entrepreneurs is to bring on technical co-founders is “immediately!” Rather than outsourcing the technical aspects of their products to contractors who aren’t truly invested in their startups, entrepreneurs should bring on technical co-founders who love their idea, who will “eat, sleep, and breathe it… and have the same things on the line.”
But finding a good match in a technical co-founder is hard. It’s tough to know how long to “founder date” before making an official partnership. It can be dangerous to partner up without having a sense of each other; but then again, there’s only so much you can learn about someone just by talking over coffee. Avi says you’ll never know what your working relationship with someone will be like until you actually start working on something together. He suggests trying to make something small together at first—a blog, a landing page, an email marketing campaign—before working on your biggest, best idea.
Interested in hearing more of Avi’s advice to entrepreneurs? You can watch a replay of the full lecture below.