5 Tips For Navigating the Non-Tech Startup Space

Aryan Bhatia

The term “startup” is usually associated with technology. The term was coined during the internet bubble, which makes sense since most businesses offer technology and related services to their users. 

However, over the last few years, there has been a shift in startups entering the industry. People are realizing that while they may not be programming experts or have a tech background, they could take advantage of the infinite resources accessible to everyone and use them to accelerate their dreams. 

This is the rise of the “non-tech startups.” One prominent example is Sweetgreen–a food startup founded in Washington, D.C, that sources all locally produced ingredients to craft delicious bowls. Sweetgreen does have its app, which makes it easier to place orders and create a loyal customer base through a rewards program, but the primary offering is food- making it your quintessential non-tech startup. And it’s also taking advantage of social media and influencer trends, partnering with Naomi Osaka to promote a signature bowl.

So how does a non-tech startup-like Sweetgreen do it while being a non-tech startup? Here are some key points to remember while launching your non-tech startup : 

Network, Network, Network 

Some people are good at this; others are not as comfortable. But, it’s pretty straightforward: networking is key to create possibilities for you and your venture. 

Attend seminars, expositions, and other related events to connect with people doing similar things or entirely different things that still may be very useful to you. If you’re not comfortable making your elevator pitch yet, it’s always a good idea to listen in on what startups are addressing through their branding and what solutions they are offering through their product. 

Don’t Discount Culture 

There are millions of startups out there running on billions of dollars of funding. Yet, many of them fail, and it’s almost always, in some way, connected to the vision and the culture around that vision. 

This may not be much of a problem if you’re starting a business out of home since the team is you and your immediate support (family, friends). But as the size of the team increases, it is essential to develop a work culture conducive to growth and where there is the equity between employees. There are few advantages of being at this baby stage and ease of communication is the biggest one. 

As a startup founder, you want to make sure your team is aligned with your vision and are ready to dedicate themselves to their areas of expertise to make this a success. 

Be Flexible 

You’re new to this–don’t be rigid. While your belief in your product may be unparalleled and your expertise second to none, sometimes you get the greatest feedback when you look at another person’s perspective. There are many avenues for growth and endless places this could end up, so don’t have blinkers on. If someone comes to you with an idea, make sure you at least give them a platform to explain their proposition.

Keep an Eye Out for Trends 

Technology has allowed trends to spread across the globe in an instant. On the flip side, we access so much information and have so many interactions on an individual level that it is much easier to forget about past trends, leaving those startups that caught on late struggling to make ends meet. If you’re someone who is experienced in this industry and have your fingers on the pulse of the market, be proactive and leap in before someone else does- first movers’ advantage (an advantage that a firm experiences as a result of being the first to market in a new industry/product category) is a real thing. More importantly, be up to date with the news and latest innovations in your industry since that provides you with a foundation for further creativity and creation. Also, reading helps you develop a sense of the long-term trends surrounding the market for ex. sustainability and sustainable business models. To learn more about current startup trends and future predictions for the industry, refer to the following link:


Have a Clear Vision

It’s important to set some ground rules for yourself when it comes to this startup. This is not a side-project, but your own ‘baby’ which needs to be guided, nurtured and grown.  At the onset of this journey, having a ‘why’ behind your startup is the most crucial backbone and your mission statement should succinctly reflect that. But the mission statement comes later- this is about you. Why did you want to do this in the first place ? Is it solely about selling this product/service or something bigger than that ? These questions become more and more important as your startup grows and having a clear answer to them allows you to guide the venture in the direction you want to, while remaining adaptable.  

There are so many ventures with potential that have failed because of a lack of clarity in the vision and values of the enterprise. 

In conclusion, the avenues for growing your non-tech startup are endless if you make it that way. It’s not just the tech startups that come into their own and grow into successful businesses, but even those startups that create something entirely different. By having a belief that is rooted in a vision and being consistent and flexible in your efforts to open more avenues for your startup, you can launch your non-tech startup off the ground successfully and with a sense of security rather than uncertainty.

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