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Startups sometimes struggle to foster the necessary rapid development and innovation required to grow.
In particular, businesses that rely on venture capital (VC) funding can face difficult growth expectations that are difficult to meet. In many cases, these companies lack the talented software engineering and design professionals needed to rapidly innovate and grow, and attempting to build these capabilities in-house can set them up for failure.
Finding this technology talent in the current job market remains difficult even considering the highly-publicized layoffs at various tech giants. A low unemployment rate and strong demand require businesses to make job offers with generous salaries and benefits to have any chance at a successful hire.
At the same time, startups and VC-backed businesses typically lack the resources to compete in a technical job market favoring candidates.
This situation requires the wise startup to partner with a digital agency or startup studio with the technical know-how and business market insights necessary for successful product development. This approach plays a key role in reducing the risk in new business formation, especially trying to permanently hire the technical professionals needed for state-of-the-art software development. In a high-growth environment typical of any startup, quickly gaining access to the right talent plays a critical role in business success.
That means collaborating with a business with the right skill and an entrepreneurial spirit makes perfect sense.
This application is known as Workspaces. Our team provided a unique perspective and the technical chops to expand Dock’s desired Workspaces feature set in a significant manner.
For many startups, especially those relying on venture capital for operating funds, the pressure to quickly achieve a high month-to-month growth rate remains immense. For some emerging businesses, this level of growth simply seems impossible, let alone sustainable for those enjoying a level of success. A large burn rate becomes a requirement for these businesses to quickly foster customer growth.
When a startup’s basic product or service involves some form of software, talented developers help project teams achieve the necessary velocity. When following an iterative software development methodology, quickly adding features requires feedback from testers or even the user community for a recently published app.
It’s an environment requiring project teams to innovate as quickly as possible. In the end, their venture backers or even the market itself remain the ultimate arbiters of success.
Venture-backed startups like Dock reside squarely in this modern business incubation environment: high growth and high speed; requiring rapid innovation in a short period of time. Dock was challenged to rapidly add new features to their existing platform as new client needs and opportunities arose.
They found themselves in the previously described scenario: needing an influx of software development talent, without the ability to compete for permanent hires in a challenging job market, or the infrastructure needed to double their workforce overnight.
As noted earlier, Dock largely relied on venture capital for operational funding during its emerging stages. They needed a partner with strong technology skills, an entrepreneurial spirit, and significant experience as a digital agency working with new startups. Additionally, they required talented developers and managers able to integrate seamlessly with their current project team.
Beyond the challenges of hiring development talent, integrating them into a productive team also requires a deft managerial hand
Of course, the nature of the software product also matters. A startup’s first product might be a mobile app, desktop application, embedded platform, or interactive website. Because of this, finding developers and software architects with specific skills and experience becomes critical.
Exposure to modern technological innovations, like AI and machine learning, might also be important, depending on the project.
However, the talent needed to build or grow a product may not be the same needed to maintain the business long-term. Bringing a full product development team in-house - only for the initial product build - simply isn’t feasible.
Don’t forget about the importance of using a modern, iterative methodology for any software engineering initiative.
Many startups lack experienced teams with exposure to modern software development methodologies, like Agile or one of its many variations, most notably Lean Startup. This remains another leading reason they end up partnering with a venture studio or other organization with these skills and experience. This strategy plays a crucial role in being able to quickly craft any software component relevant to the startup’s business plan.
Note that this requirement also includes validating the target market for the software product or service, as well as ensuring the software itself remains bug-free with a feature set that elegantly solves the underlying business problem. This scenario requires both talented QA engineers as well as business analysts or super users with keen insights related to the business domain the software hopes to target.
Ultimately, it’s a scenario where a partnership between a startup like Dock, and a venture studio such as NineTwoThree makes perfect sense. The high velocity at which any startup operates – especially when properly supported with capital – pairs nicely with a studio with mature software development practices.
The fact this partnership happened when building an application designed to foster collaboration between separate businesses almost seems serendipitous in retrospect.
When partnering with Dock, NineTwoThree primarily focused our efforts on project management and software development. Our familiarity with a wide range of modern software development methodologies, especially iterative ones like Agile and Lean Startup, benefited the project. This software engineering approach ensures any bugs or other problems get discovered as quickly as possible when they are less expensive to fix.
Our flexibility allowed us to quickly adapt NineTwoThree’ s development style to one matching the software engineers at Dock. We closely collaborated using Slack to understand how they managed certain aspects of the software development process, including code check-ins, builds, and deployments.
After gaining these insights, our team matched the high velocity and coding style used by Dock’s development team.
Our work then focused on building the security-related functionality for the entire Workspaces application suite. After successfully completing these parts of the application, the Dock CTO assigned our team additional tasks, effectively treating them as an extension of his internal software engineers.
A high-growth venture-backed company has the potential to achieve market penetration more quickly by segregating parts of its app to be developed by a venture studio like NineTwoThree.
In our case, this included portions of Workspaces not part of their core IP, but still critical to the overall deliverable. Ultimately, engaging NineTwoThree helped Dock move with higher velocity as well as seamlessly interact with their team effectively providing an extra set of hands.
Significant advantages exist for startups and venture-backed businesses when they partner with a venture studio or digital agency to supercharge their software development process.
Outsourcing software engineering talent provides the necessary horsepower to bring a product or service to market as quickly as possible without overspending. It also provides a similar velocity level when making feature enhancements after the application’s launch.
Once again, simply compare the expenses of hiring a proven software development team to the costs and risks involved with trying to make permanent hires in the current IT job market.
Of course, significant cost savings come into play when outsourcing software engineers. At the same time, expect useful synergies from hiring an entire team as opposed to individual developers. So remember to consider their software development methodology when vetting potential outsourcing partners!
To emphasize that previous point, any startup probably lacks a mature software development process. This isn’t surprising when considering the priorities of any emerging business. So partnering with a venture studio with an existing track record of successful software projects ultimately improves the quality of the startup’s in-house development team.
Simply put, any new organization whose existence relies on software needs to explore partnering with experts in the field.
Ultimately, Dock's decision to partner with NineTwoThree relieved a massive managerial burden for the founders of that startup. Despite employing a talented software development team, the pressure to add features and functionality to Workspaces strained the capabilities of their in-house developers. You can view more of the results here.
If your business needs a partner for an upcoming project, reach out to the team at NineTwoThree. A venture studio with significant experience helping businesses from startups to enterprises, we boast the technical chops and business acumen to help ensure a successful project.
Connect with us to discuss the possibilities of a partnership.