As a successful startup studio following the agency builder model, NineTwoThree incubates new businesses as well as crafts digital ventures for our third-party clients. Over time, we developed our own processes, including a bespoke software development methodology based on Lean Startup. We also practice a unique approach for launching new digital ventures into the marketplace.
A sharply-defined process remains critical to ensure projects produce predictable results. Of course, that's sometimes easier said than done when it comes to engineering compelling mobile apps or web platforms.
So let’s take a high-level overview of a typical timeline for a digital venture project – from initiation to completion. We cover every step in a typical initiative while providing a few insights on how we work at NineTwoThree. Use this information as food for thought to inform your own startup studio’s project work. After all, having an example roadmap remains a great way to ensure a successful project outcome.
Securing Capital For Your Digital Venture
Of course, nearly all digital ventures require funding and related resources to initiate the project. In many cases, startup studios need to secure venture capital or some other funding source. Naturally, VC providers typically demand some percentage of ownership or another form of remuneration when they exit the venture after it launches.
As an agency builder startup studio, NineTwoThree invests our own funds from client work into our digital venture initiatives. This approach remains one of the biggest advantages of forming this type of startup studio. Over time, client projects help us create new digital ventures and startups ultimately resulting in a feedback loop that leads to significant opportunities for growth.
Choosing The Right Business Idea
At this point, the studio parses through a collection of business ideas, trying to find one with the highest potential for success, including a good product-market fit. Having someone on hand with relevant business domain knowledge helps in identifying industry pain points that could benefit from digital optimization.
If your company doesn’t already employ someone with this expertise, consider outsourcing to acquire the necessary talent on a permanent or contract basis. Of course, performing client work helps introduce our team to networking opportunities in a variety of industries, which helps for finding talented professionals.
Forge an Effective Project Team
Assembling a talented and experienced project team helps ensure a successful outcome. As noted earlier, try to include technical talent and business stakeholders with expertise in the business domain the digital venture targets. Notably, choose a project manager with an entrepreneurial spirit and relevant experience in your target market. This PM might ultimately become the CEO of the startup spun out of the digital venture.
User Testing and Market Validation Are Both Critical
Some might think the testing phase of a digital venture project only involves vetting the functionality of the app. In fact, this process also needs to focus on validating the target market for the initiative. Using our own bespoke version of the Lean Startup methodology also provides a level of iteration with this phase.
We leverage a Learn-Measure-Build cycle that focuses on truly learning the underlying business problem. Determining the measurable criteria to test the quality of the app and its market also remains crucial. Only at this point, the technical team begins coding a minimum viable product (MVP) to serve as a prototype throughout the project. This cycle repeats itself iteratively until the initiative completes.
Transforming a Digital Venture Into a Startup
The PM/future CEO leads the project through each iteration discussed above. Some of our leadership team typically stays involved on a semi-regular basis, but the project manager effectively runs the show. The PM keeps all business stakeholders and our leadership in the loop with project updates and other relevant information. The ultimate goal involves turning the successful completed app or digital platform into a promising startup business.
The Startup Exits Our Agency, Becoming a Viable Business
Any successful digital venture boasts an app or website providing a compelling experience from a technical standpoint. In short, nearly everything works perfectly. However, even more important is validating that the venture meets the needs of the target market.
Success on both accounts means the startup is ready to leave the coop and become an independent business, run by the former project manager or a new leadership team. This fledgling organization likely needs to recruit new employees, with some from our agency possibly joining the fold.
If you are interested in taking your emerging startup studio to another level, or are curious about the agency builder model, connect with our team at NineTwoThree. The startup studio scene remains a thriving community focused on collaboration, so leverage our insights to help your own studio grow. Check out our Digital Venture Studio Playbook, and reach out to us if you have any questions.