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Startups: how to conceive and develop a digital product?

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Brazil has been a stage for major startup events, one of which is The Gramado Summit. It is an event sponsored by SoftDesign among others, that takes place in southern Brazil and brings together entrepreneurs, investors, and consolidated companies for workshops, lectures, and networking.

In a recent interview with the Gramado Summit Portal, Osmar A. M. Pedrozo, CEO of SoftDesign talked about startups, the market, and the conception and development of digital products. See the full interview below, originally published in Portuguese at the Start Portal.

How does SoftDesign work with startups?

We are a technology hub with 23 years of experience in the software development market. We have served a large number of customers and carried out hundreds of projects for apps, platforms, and enterprise software. Our vast experience, knowledge, and expertise in designing and building digital products allow us to provide consistent support to new businesses.

When a startup comes to us, we first seek to identify the current state of the new business. If the process is in its early stage and there is an idea that needs refinement and structuring, we suggest the Product Conception service.

Using approaches like Design Thinking and Lean Startup, we assist the startup with the ideation process, exploring the problem to be solved, and creating hypotheses. We also carry out research, benchmarking, map journeys, identify personas, and design prototypes. All that to validate the effectiveness and market fit of the digital product and support the implementation of the Business Model.

If the startup’s development is in a more advanced stage, the product backlog is ready or an MPV (Minimum Viable Product) is already running,  we can effectively assist it with Software Development. We suggest the most appropriate technologies and implement an agile development method. It implies having the startup or scale-up working with us on the daily as a true co-creation process. In this sense, due to our technology and market knowledge, risks are minimized.

There is a third situation where UX Design Consulting is required. Along the way, we have worked with startups that despite having a good product in the market, gathered negative feedback indicating problems with the product’s usability. Users complained about not having a positive experience using the digital product. Our team performs a heuristic analysis to identify improvement opportunities in that kind of situation.

To what extent is it important for a startup to carry out Product Conception before developing its digital product or service?

Product Conception helps to minimize problems and future expenses, as it assigns focus to the work and provides validation before the product enters the market. Many times startups come to us with good ideas, but with no understanding of the technological basis. We help them formatting the work so that it can be assessed in terms of acceptance.

As I say, Product Conception minimizes problems, but it doesn’t mean the success of the product is guaranteed. I am saying that the startup has already a lot of variables to deal with and our job is to give support on how things are done. The idea is spending energy on validating the product, and not on defining technology, business model, etc. When everything is well organized, it is easier to attract investors to the project.

Does SoftDesign somehow help to establish the relationship between startup and investor?

The process of structuring the idea, the pitch, ends up helping the startup/investor relationship for it inspires confidence. By seeing that the startup has a technology partner with a large market and IT experience,  the investor feels safer to invest in and undertake the project. We have helped startups to make successful product presentations to investors invited to our head office. We can help ensure the digital product will be delivered accordingly, will be good, and will have the qualities needed to meet its objectives, be they of scalability, efficiency, or otherwise.

SoftDesign’s high investment in education and training contributes to keeping our teams always updated and constantly improving so as to ensure the development of qualified solutions.

You said before that the startup works with the team on the daily for developing software. How exactly does this process work?

We work with the Agile methodology, which is more adaptive.  It allows improvements and even changes in the course of the project while it is being developed to incorporate feedback coming from the software end-user.

Decision-making becomes faster when the startup, or company, and the development team work together. For this purpose, we rely on a series of tools, from Product Conception to Software Development. It promotes transparency and visibility regarding the whole work process, the evolution of sprints and deliveries.

The startup knows exactly what is being done and how it is being done and follows everything in real-time, also participating in the meetings.

Are there any differences between working with startups and well-established companies? What are the advantages that make SoftDesign work with startups?

Small initiatives can greatly benefit from our vast knowledge of technology. The technologies used with large customers are similar to those used with startups.

We can say that the difference lies in the way of working, as the startup founder is usually quite involved with the product. In this way, he/she soon builds up a relationship of trust that leads to less bureaucratic decision-making. For us, it’s a great sense of accomplishment different from what happens with bigger projects of well-established companies. They usually take much longer to be effectively implemented.

Even more interesting is that is a two-way street: just as we bring our experience from well-established companies to startups, we apply our learning and the innovative spirit resulting from working with startups to well-established companies that need to renew, adapt, and transform digitally. It is very rewarding to promote this kind of exchange and learn a lot during the process.

Do you have a startup and need help designing and developing your digital product?

Welcome! All our services can be performed remotely anywhere in the world. Contact us. Tell us about your idea. We will help you to create a successful story.

Ideas or feedback? Get in touch with [email protected]

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Micaela L. Rossetti

Head of Marketing at SoftDesign. Content Creator, Inbound Marketing and Strategic Marketing Specialist. Master's degree in Communication, Bachelor's degree in Journalism, MBA in Project Management.

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