So you think to be a start-up founder you need to be a coder? If that was so, neither I, nor my wife and Co-Founder Chelsea would have founded Immersive Trails and ran it successfully for the last 4.5 years. I am an archaeologist by training and Chelsea, an anthropologist.
Yeah, yeah, Okay! Granted that we did start as a research driven walking tour company, and just needed a basic website. We did not have a tech product to offer in our first 3 years, even though we were already having serious conversations amongst ourselves about making the pivot to tech. We envisaged that technology used the right way can liberate travel from its time, space and monetary constraints, and can bring enrichment for more people all over the world.
As we were having these discussions, we looked at the market about hiring a coder for the team who can make our travel-tech dreams come true. We soon realized that we cannot afford to hire one, and despite having several meetings, the coders we liked wanted to come on board as a third Co-Founder. We looked for companies who could understand and implement our ideas into a code- disaster there too. The first agency built a website that was so full of bullshit spelling mistakes and coding error leading to a deplorable customer experience. The next one made huge promises, took months, wasted our time, before we realized that they do not even have the basic understanding of our vision.
So there we are, at the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic, with in-person experience stopped, and our long term vision of pivoting to a virtual platform, in shambles. But the pandemic offered us a unique opportunity to make the switch, and realize our vision of creating a “Netflix” of unique virtual experiences. We needed to raise fund to be able to hire our in house coding team with the best coders out there. To raise funds, we needed to have a proof of concept. To make a proof of concept we needed someone to build our platform. In short, we were between a rock and a hard place!
This is when I realized that the basic building blocks to start implementing our vision was already out there. With absolutely ZERO coding knowledge, I started designing a basic version of our Virtual Experiences platform using the plug and play tools available on Wix.com. I built the current Immersive Trails website all by myself, spending hours at a time, straining my eyes, pushing Wix to the limit through customisations. The end result? Well see for yourself. We have a workable Virtual Experiences platform. Yes, it is nothing fancy, and a very basic version of what we want to do once we are able to raise funds, and hire a tech team. But it works. It does what it is made to do!
If you are a start-up founder, or considering founding one, but have no coding knowledge, like me, do not worry. This is not a roadblock. You can innovate using existing plug and play tools out there and bootstrap your way out of it. If you have the will, you will find the way. Coding is not an entrepreneurial requirement, ability to solve problems is.