It's not unusual to see people on entreprenurial subreddits or message boards make a claim along the lines of, "Your tech (software) choices don't matter. It's all about the sales and marketing." Many of the same people will say things like, "software is easy... the hard part is marketing".
It's generally easy to dismiss these claims. Not only is it clear that organizations such as governments and banks often spend great deal of money completely fail to make decent web apps, but the other half of the statement fails as well. Rand Fishin's excellent book Lost & Founder goes into detail about just how difficult it can be for even a world-class marketer to compete with more technical rivals.
A truer claim would be, "the hard part" is whatever isn't in the founder's skill set.
# Tech is done
One reason why many people see less value in technical talent or a "good tech stack", whatever that may mean, is the belief that tech is "done". Many people are building the same kinds of B2B SaaS web apps or consumer-focused content sites in 2020 that were being built in 2007. There absolutely are deeper technology challenges being tackled, but that's a topic for another day.
There really isn't much challenging in building a Reddit clone or a Zendesk clone in 2020. Using a productive framework like Rails, Laravel or Phoenix, a mid-level full-stack dev could crank out an MVP in a day. Even without a such a framework, shipping it over a weekend wouldn't be uncommon.
A week ago, I saw an interesting comment from an startup-employee and entrepreneur that took the idea a step further:
I work in early stage product startups.
What R&D do you need? CRUD is solved, hosting is solved, UX is solved, scaling is solved, marketing is solved ...
Everything to do with web and mobile is very solved at this point. Most problems come from tripping over ourselves and cobbling things together to fit new domains.
All real hard R&D happens inside faang these days. At least for web/mobile consumer stuff.
# Marketing is done
Not only are there frameworks and playbooks for building a polished CRUD web app and/or mobile app, but there frameworks and playbooks for marketing them and selling them, too!
Knowledge of how to effectively design an email funnel or run Facebook ads may have been relatively scarce a decade ago, but it sure isn't now! "Everybody" knows how important it is to build an email list, test landing pages, talk to early customers, etc, etc, etc.
The secret isn't locked up in a few expensive members-only communities or Silicon Valley-based startups. It's out. It's gone global. There are even fantastic books about getting Traction
# Financing is done
It used to be expensive to build a web app. There weren't many investors willing to put up the money it took. The few that were tended to be highly credentialist.
Now it's so cheap that founders are building on the side and keeping their jobs until reaching a replacement salary. Fundraising options have also exploded—traditional investors have multiplied, crowd funding is a force, blockchain-based models are popping up and there are even some investors who fund bootstrappers with no intention of ever building a gigantic business.
It still doesn't hurt to have gone to Stanford, Harvard or similarly elite institution but it's far less of an uphill struggle for those who haven't in 2020 than it was in the past.
# The remaining question
If the skills that were an unfair advantage in the aughts are now widespread, then what is the edge in 2020?