LaunchCode Accelerator: Teaching Non-Technical Founders to Code

I want to equip them with enough skills that they can actually build their prototype themselves, get it in front of users, and learn from that process.

It’s hard being a non-technical founder. Who knew coming up with an awesome idea would be the easy part, while trying to find a CTO would be the worst point of pain? If only there was a developer boot camp catering specifically to non-technical founders, something that could teach them the basics and allow them to churn out a prototype…oh, wait, there is.

“Let’s say you have an awesome idea for an app, or a website platform, or whatever you’re trying to build,” LaunchCode founder Wesley Smith told Beehive Startups in a recent interview. “If you’re not technical, your only options are to find a technical co-founder or try to raise money. That works for some people, but I think there is a huge chunk of the entrepreneurial population that is unable to get out of that rut.”

Smith, who cut his code teaching chops at Isomer, is creating the LaunchCode accelerator aimed at this very particular group of people — founders lacking the technical skills to further their product without the help of somebody more code-savvy. Instead of traversing the normal route (trying to find a CTO who matches your vision and hopefully doesn’t want tons of money), LaunchCode will allow founders to supplement their ideas with an incredibly useful skillset.

“What does it look like when you have all these people with different ideas, the passion to start their own companies, and then launch a software product with everything that entails?” Smith said. “I want to equip them with enough skills that they can actually build their prototype themselves, get it in front of users, and learn from that process.”

Backed by lead donor and successful angel investor Doug Wells, LaunchCode’s first cohort will be assembled May 11 and end 11 weeks later. Classes are held at the Pando Labs co-working space in Park City every Monday-Thursday from 6–9pm, and Saturday from 10am-3pm.

Alongside the coding basics, Smith promises a personalized experience.

“What’s fun about this is not only are you learning to code, but because it’s a really small group, each student will essentially have a customized curriculum based around their idea that they want to purse,” he said. “It’ll be a lot of learning how to code in the context of your product.”

In exchange for participation, LaunchCode will receive six percent equity in each company.

“The reality is, it’s harder to hire a technical co-founder for a startup than it is to raise capital,” Wells said. “What if we gave them the tools that they could at least build a minimum viable product and start getting users?”

For those interested, apply for LaunchCode via their website. Application deadline is April 30.

Published 4/13/2015