Note: This article was first published on a now-defunct website called ProtoHack in 2015. It’s a shame not to have it online, as it’s great inspiration for anyone who feels they’re not sufficiently technical to build an Internet-based business. Therefore, we keep it alive here, with occasional updates as needed. Full author credit goes to Blake McCammon.
Regardless of a recent Gallup Poll suggesting that American entrepreneurship is dead, I believe quite the opposite. Yes, we rank 12th in the world for entrepreneurship, and more businesses are closing than opening, but that doesn’t mean the spirit of entrepreneurship is dead by any means. At the end of 2013 entrepreneurship increased by 14% in the United States, and that number doesn’t look like it’s going down anytime soon.
At our core we’re looking for those non-technical folks who have a passion or want to solve a challenge/problem but don’t know where to start because they’re not technical, they can’t code, and/or they don’t have any idea where to start even. We’ve searched the Internet for entrepreneurs who, no matter where they started or their experience, had a dream and vision for a company, but like our audience, are all non-technical founders of tech products.
The purpose of this list is two-fold. We want to show those who attend ProtoHack that no matter your job title, whether you’re the VP of Finance at a major bank, or you’re a student; if you have a dream, determination, and passion you too can start a business and build a tech product without having any knowledge of code. The second part of the list is to highlight non-technical founders who have dug themselves in for the long haul and came out on top doing excellent work and building amazing tech products.
Since there are hundreds of non-technical entrepreneurs in tech we’ve decided to limit the list to those who have raised at least a million dollars whether through private funding, seed, series A, etc. or those companies how have successfully taken their company public. This list is in no particular order.
Top 50 Non-Technical Founders in Tech
Stephanie Tilenius (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Vida Health Inc.
- Vida is a next generation continuous care platform and health marketplace for both consumers and businesses.
- Funding Received: 5 million
Walker Williams (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Teespring.
- Teespring is a commerce platform that empowers anyone to design and sell products that people love.
- Funding Received: 56.9 million
Sheri Atwood (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of SupportPay.
- Only payment platform for parents sharing child expenses and managing child support.
- Funding Received: 1.3 million
Nirav Tolia (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Nextdoor.com
- Nextdoor is a private social network that enables members to communicate with neighbors.
- Funding Received: 100.2 million
Nancy MacIntyre (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Fingerprint.
- Fingerprint is an edutainment app enabling kids and grown-ups to connect and share information across mobile devices and the web.
- Funding Received: 20 million
James Beshara (LinkedIn)
- Co-Founder and CEO of Tilt.
- Tilt is a group-funding platform allowing users to start fundraising campaigns for non-profit organizations and activities.
- Funding Received: 37.1 million
Jessica Scorpio (LinkedIn)
- Co-founder and VP, Marketing of GetAround.
- Getaround is a mobile application and a peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace that enables car owners to rent out their cars.
- Funding Received: 43 million
Sean Rad (LinkedIn)
- Co-founder and CEO of Tinder.
- Tinder is an online dating app that offers its users an opportunity to meet new people for dating, friendship, or networking.
- Funding Received: Undisclosed
Kelsey Falter (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Poptip.
- Poptip analyzes and synthesizes social conversations in real-time to enable brands to understand people’s opinions.
- Funding Received: 2.4 million
Scott Langmack (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of ConnectUp Corp.
- ConnectUp makes it easy to reach the people who matter, whether a business associate or a personal friend.
- Funding Received: 1.2 million
Melody McCloskey (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of StyleSeat.
- StyleSeat is an online destination that connects beauty and wellness professionals with clients.
- Funding Received: 14.9 million
Micheal Dell (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Dell.
- Dell is a multinational technology company that develops, sells, repairs and supports computers and related products and services.
- Funding Received: Dell is a private company that has raised well over the 500K necessary.
Jamie Wong (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Vayable.
- Vayable is an online marketplace enabling people to discover, buy and sell unique travel experiences, activities and extended trips.
- Funding Received: 2.1 million
Brian Chesky (LinkedIn)
- Co-founder and CEO of AirBnB.
- Airbnb is an online community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book accommodation around the world.
- Funding Received: 794.8 million
Alexa von Tobel (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of LearnVest
- LearnVest is a program for your money. Our mission is to make financial planning affordable, accessible, and even delightful.
- Funding Received: 69 million
Peter Thiel (LinkedIn)
- Managing Partner at the Founders Fund, previous Co-founder and CEO of Paypal.
- Funding Received: Paypal went IPO in 2002.
Soraya Darabi (LinkedIn)
- Co-Founder of Zady.
- Zady is a shopping platform for consumers concerned about the origins of the items they purchase.
- Funding Received: 1.4 million
Kevin Hartz (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Eventbrite.
- Eventbrite is a global marketplace for live experiences that lets people to find and create events.
- Funding Received: 199.5 million
Jon Bischke (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Entelo.
- Entelo is a software platform that helps companies find eligible candidates via social web.
- Funding Received: 8.7 million
Carly Gloge (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Smart Toy.
- Smart Toy offers an interactive, educational soft toy for children that can be controlled through iOS devices.
- Funding Received: 2.6 million. Acquired in 2014 by Cartwheel Kids.
Jordan Metzner (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Washio
- Washio is a wash-and-fold laundry service that offers pick up and delivery services.
- Funding Received: 16.8 million
Anastasia Leng (LinkedIn)
- Co-founder and CEO of Hatch.co
- Hatch is an ecommerce site that lets users customize curated goods created by a select community of artists, makers, and designers.
- Funding Received: 1.7 million
Rick Orr (LinkedIn)
- Founder and Former EVP Product of TabbedOut
- TabbedOut enables customers to open, view, and pay bar or restaurant tabs from their smartphones.
- Funding Received: 17.5 million
Dawoon Kang (LinkedIn)
- Co-founder and CEO of Coffee Meets Bagel
- Coffee Meets Bagel is an online dating site that connects individuals with a ‘friend-of-a-friend’ match every day.
- Funding Received: 10.6 million
Bradford Shellhammer (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Bezar
- Bezar is the Marketplace for Design.
- Funding Received: 2.3 million
Desiree Vargas Wrigley (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of GiveFoward and Pearachute.
- GiveForward is an online fundraising website offering guidance and a platform to raise money for loved ones in need.
- Funding Received: 2.5 million
Mark Newman (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of HireVue
- HireVue is a digital interview platform allowing individuals to browse, watch and share interviews.
- Funding Received: 52 million
Caren Maio (LinkedIn)
- Co-founder and CEO of Nestio
- Nestio is a platform for residential real estate professionals to manage and communicate their information in real-time and from one place.
- Funding Received: 3.9 million
Reid Hoffmann (LinkedIn)
- Founder and Former CEO of LinkedIn.
- LinkedIn, a professional networking site, allows its members to create business connections, search for jobs, and find potential clients.
- Funding Received: LinkedIn went public in 2011.
Stina Ehrensvard (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Yubico.
- Yubico offers USB and wireless authentication solutions
- Funding Received: 3 million, Seed.
Cleve Adams (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Airpatrol Corp
- AirPatrol develops tools to deliver software and services to mobile devices based on their location and user context.
- Funding Received: 3.7 million, acquired in 2014
Rashmi Sinha (LinkedIn)
- Co-founder and CEO of SlideShare
- SlideShare is an online community that allows users to upload and share PowerPoint presentations, documents, and infographics.
- Funding Received: 3 million, Acquired by LinkedIn in 2012
Evan Sharp (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Pinterest
- Pinterest is a social bookmarking site with a virtual pinboard interface that visually showcases the user’s interests.
- Funding Received: 762.5 million
Erika Trautman (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Rapt Media
- Rapt Media, a creative platform for interactive enterprise video, enables companies to convert content viewers to interactive participants.
- Funding Received: 8.7 million
Yancey Strickler (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Kickstarter
- Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform for creative projects such as movies, music, art, theater, games, comics, design, and photography.
- Funding Received: 10 million
Kathryn Minshew (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of The Daily Muse
- The Daily Muse is a job search platform offering multimedia profiles of various companies that are hiring people.
- Funding Received: 7.3 million
Marc Benioff (LinkedIn)
- Co-founder and CEO of Salesforce
- Salesforce is an enterprise cloud-computing company and CRM provider offering business software solutions on a subscription basis.
- Funding Received: 21 million, went public in 2004.
- Founder and Co-CEOs of Birchbox
- Birchbox is a discovery commerce platform offering a personalized method for discovering, learning and shopping for products in the market.
- Funding Received: 71.9 million
Jeff Bezos (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Amazon
- Amazon.com is an international e-commerce website for consumers, sellers, and content creators.
- Funding Received: 8 million, went public in 1997.
Victoria Ransom (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of WildfireApp
- Wildfire, a division of Google, is a provider of enterprise social media marketing software.
- Funding Received: 14.1 million, Acquired by Google in 2012.
David O. Sacks (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Yammer
- Yammer is an enterprise social network that enables employees to collaborate across departments, geographies and business applications.
- Funding Received: 142 million, acquired by Microsoft in 2012
Kellee Khalil (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Lover.ly
- Lover.ly is a specialized search engine for finding bridal ideas, trends, and other wedding-related information.
- Funding Received: 5 million
Aneel Bhusri (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Workday
- Workday provides SaaS-based enterprise solutions for a company’s human resources and financial management activities.
- Funding Received: 175 million, went public in 2012
Lily Liu (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of PublicStuff.
- PublicStuff is an online community service that allows individuals to notify the right local departments to get things fixed.
- Funding Received: 6.6 million
Aaron Levie (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of Box
- Box is an online file sharing and cloud content management service offering unlimited storage, custom branding, and administrative controls.
- Funding Received: 559 million, went public in 2015
Joanna Weidenmiller (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of 1-Page.
- The one-page company develops software solutions to solve communication problems between enterprises and their employees.
- Funding Received: 3.3 million, went IPO on the Australian Stock Exchange
Alexis Ohanian (LinkedIn)
- Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of reddit
- Reddit Blog is a web-based blog that displays news based on personal preferences and community likes. It provides news, information, insight, and articles related to a wide range of topics.
- Funding Received: 50.1 million, Acquired in 2006 by Code Nast.
Tracy Young (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of PlanGrid.
- PlanGrid is a cloud-based app that allows users to store blueprints and construction documents on iPad and iPhone.
- Funding Received: 1.1 million
Chad Hurley (LinkedIn)
- Founder and CEO of YouTube.
- YouTube, a video-sharing platform, allows users to upload, view and share videos, including movie and music clips and amateur content.
- Funding Received: 11.5 million, Acquired by Google for 1.7B in 2006