Software Development for Startups Without a CTO



Software Development for Startups Without a CTO

It is quite often we encounter founders and their ideas, and more often than not, we collectively determine that the idea, while terrific, has some significant complexities that are far too often, overlooked. There is always a point in the conversation, usually around the time when a founder says, "this feature doesn't feel super complicated" after they compare their idea to Uber or Instagram, or Facebook, where we unpack and ultimately reveal exactly how complicated a "simple" feature can be. Founders often times have incredible dreams and goals, but often lack the advisors or the professional background to truly understand what they are asking for from a development agency. That's where we come in.

When a founder brings an idea to us, we follow a series of events in order to truly earn the partnership, but also set incredibly realistic milestones in order to justify the significance of the build, and justification of the budget.

Deep Discovery

We do not claim to be masters of your niche industry. We shouldn't be expected to be the experts in your competitive environment or even your business vertical. We are, however, master's of problem solving. Before we even think about developing, we have to gather a deep and highly transparent set of business criteria, critical rules and logic, as well as core functionality that adds immediate value to the end user.

We typically commence with a series of discovery calls in order to determine how much of this problem has yet to be accounted for. Reviewing everything from current performance metrics, to the basic expectations of an MVP. We review any existing brand guidelines, and consult the various internal personas that will ultimately be relying on the performance of this startup idea.

Determining the Minimum Marketable Product (MMP)

Once we understand the business logic and truly have a path to development, we pivot conversations to determine, collectively, where the Minimum Marketable Product, exists. This could be a significant feature set in comparison to a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) which ultimately, may not include the minimum expected user experience.

For example, if a startup came to us with a competitor of DoorDash, the MVP, would be so vast, and require all features, services, and functionality that the common public is used to in that arena. There is a huge difference between being truly First to Market (MVP), and being a Market Innovator (MMP). Most Startups are Market Innovators, working to release common functionality, with a new secret feature or service that would separate them from existing competitors.

When a startup is aiming to be a Market Innovator, it is critical to identify the Minimum Marketable Product, which could be a significantly larger scope than originally anticipated.

Advising vs. Work For Hire

Through our deep discovery and agreement of where the MMP exists, we typically have proven to be deeply intimate with our understanding of the problem, the solution and the level of effort required to make the product valuable to the end user. At this point in our participation, we are typically pushing up and out of budget range and are typically so far past the expectation of the startup leadership team, that we are left with uncertainty and vacillation. Which is exactly where we tend to shine.

By this time, we know as much, if not more about the business, the problem the technology needs to solve and the general framework for the solution than the founders or internal team do. This puts us in a unique position to try and obtain a deeper and more meaningful partnership in the form of equity or some kind of significant skin in the game.

While the majority of our customers are established businesses with baked ideas simply looking for Work-For-Hire, we still aim to attract innovation, and on the rare occasion, originality. When innovation and originality come along, we enjoy deepening our involvement as Trusted Advisors and Interim leadership roles, to support the business idea and the venture to secure funding. Participating in this critical role is not commonplace and quite hard to scale, but is critical to the success of certain businesses and we are pleased to offer our expertise and knowledge to worthy missions.