Software Development for Startups
In today’s startup landscape, a custom software application—whether customer facing or for internal use—is often a critical competitive advantage that sets one startup ahead of its competitors. But, of course, developing and launching that application is easier said than done.
As any startup founder knows, after all, brilliant ideas die before they are actualized all the time. This could be due to financial struggles, incorrect internal process engineering, ineffective team dynamics, insufficient demand, lack of appropriate implementation tools, or stiff market competition. In software development, there are additional obstacles: changes to scope and functionality, transformation of the root of the project, and unqualified or overstretched vendors are common ones.
At Syberry, we’ve seen it all: startups with more-than-sufficient funding watching their ideas fall apart, startups with limited funding making it, and everything in between. Having said all this, as Daisaku Ikeda put it, “With love and patience, nothing is impossible”.
So, through all of this, what have we seen startup clients doing that increases their chances of succeeding in bringing their custom software to life—and using it to achieve and exceed their business goals?
Proof of Concept (PoC)
Risk and uncertainty are inevitable at the start of any innovative project, but it’s possible (and smart) to minimize that risk by proving that the new product will work before investing time, money, and other resources into it. In software development, this means creating your proof of concept before committing to full-blown development, as any innovative idea needs to be tested at the pre-development stage and prior to attracting investors.
It might be tempting to take successful businesses as inspiration, thinking that developing a similar product to theirs will bring inevitable success. However, it is invaluable to remember the concept of survivorship bias: looking at success stories as inevitabilities while forgetting all the similar concepts that failed. Though emulating previous successes is certainly a worthwhile goal, it’s always important to invest in researching the market conditions, studying competitors, and identifying unique selling propositions.
A “proof of concept” is a demonstration of the practical feasibility and potential success of a method, idea, or technology. Even when a startup’s tech stack is mainstream, a proof of concept helps compare its effectiveness for reaching an optimal result within the startup’s specific tasks.
To summarize, a well-delivered proof of concept helps answer the following questions:
- Is the idea technically viable?
- Is the idea viable from the business standpoint?
A prototype is a basic layout that helps visualize the placement of a product’s main elements and functionalities. The prototype allows a startup to demonstrate the idea of the product and to discover and introduce any necessary amendments at a lighter cost. Prototypes allow the product owner, the development team, and other stakeholders to synchronize their vision of the final product, and they come in especially handy when demonstrating a business vision to potential investors.
Here are some of the main benefits of creating prototypes before starting development:
- Visualize the product’s requirements
- Get an idea of the look and feel of the end product
- Obtain an interim result in order to plan next steps (useful for both the startup and investors)
- Check the effectiveness of the business logic by modeling user flows
- Introduce changes before code and designs are in place, saving both time and money
- Evaluate a realistic timeline and cost estimate
MVP (Minimum Viable Product)
An MVP allows the development team to make sure of the relevance and demand for the product—or, on the contrary, to pull the plug in a timely manner. The key idea of an MVP is to create a real product that can be offered to real users, with the minimum functionality required to provide value, then observe the reaction and tweak the product according to feedback.
However bright an idea might seem in the beginning, it is not a real product or a real result just yet. By creating an MVP, a startup can make great strides in investing smartly in their new product. Here are a few of the benefits:
- Save money by minimizing investment in a potentially doomed project
- Verify that the product will gain traction with the target audience
- Use an iterative development approach to establish optimal focus areas one step at a time
- Prove the functional performance of the product
- Stay up to date with ever-changing market tendencies
- Gather a database of real users and early adopters
For startups looking to develop successful applications, the key is in the planning. It is always useful to compile a list of desired features and functionality, and then set priorities for implementing each. It is advisable to start with a leaner scope, launch the minimum viable product, and get feedback from users. Then the startup can decide whether to add additional functionalities to the product or make adjustments based on user feedback.
Setting Startups Up for Success
By applying all or some of our suggestions, startups can plan more effectively and dramatically increase their chances of success in creating and launching an innovative new product. If your startup is ready to invest in custom software, give Syberry a call! We’d love to learn more about your vision and discuss how we can help bring it to life.