I studied economics and management science as an undergraduate before getting an MBA. I’m therefore not an engineer or computer scientist.
My background has its advantages. A big one is understanding the power of underlying motivations and incentives in driving people’s behavior. This is an important skill when evaluating early stage startups.
However, my background also has its disadvantages. One is that I’m not deeply familiar with the components and processes which govern the behavior of computers and the internet. Although I don’t need to be an expert in these areas, it’s useful to have a high-level understanding of them to have productive conversations with people who have backgrounds in engineering or computer science, which is a lot of people in the tech sector.
This is where the Tech Tuesday series of posts by Albert Wenger of Union Square Ventures is very useful. In the series, Albert describes the key components of computers, the internet, and programming languages using analogies to activities that we can all relate to (like the data storage and processing capabilities of our brain).
The posts won’t make you an expert engineer or computer scientist, but they’re of great value to non-engineers and non-computer scientists who want to better understand how the fundamental tools that they’re working with actually work.