Scalability, Scalability, and Scalability: The Key to Product Development

by | May 5, 2020

AppVelocity’s three pillars of quality are really one pillar: scalability, because scalability is what’s most valuable to startups.

As an offshoot from Simform, AppVelocity is a product development company specifically tailored to startups. We combine high-quality developers with a unique customer experience, solving many of the common pitfalls that product development companies fall into when working with startups.

AppVelocity’s process for new product development

While AppVelocity’s developers are experts in high technologies like VR, AR, and AI, that doesn’t differentiate us. At the end of the day, code is code. Instead, startups recognize the value of our customer experience, including our communication, long-term perspective, and understanding of their unique situation.

AppVelocity’s communication is significantly more open and transparent than most development firms.

For example, we include the client in our development team’s chat. Most development firms would be afraid to do that, since the client might undercut them by contracting directly with the developer. Our company culture, however, doesn’t let that happen. And typically, we’re providing so much value that a client doesn’t want to ruin their relationship with us.

When a client experiences this transparency firsthand, they begin to build long-term personal relationships. Instead of a vendor-client relationship, they feel like we’re team members, so they keep hiring us for more projects. Some of our clients have worked with us for 8+ years.

Long-term perspective
Starting with our first client conversation, we filter every decision through the lens of a client’s future business. We learn about their company, their customers, and what they’re trying to achieve. Only then do we dive into a technical solution, careful to start with the right technology to solve their problem (not the technology we prefer or are most familiar with).

Our initial pitch focuses long-term. It includes:
  • A technical solution (MVP),
  • A plan for growth after launch (including user feedback), and
  • A plan for maintenance.
We don’t believe in creating the entire product up-front (even though that would mean we receive payment up-front). Instead, we put MVPs into the marketplace as soon as possible, because that’s the strongest long-term business strategy.

Understanding the requirements of startups
Since AppVelocity works specifically with startups, we tailor our offerings to their unique needs. If they’re raising a seed round, for example, we lower the initial pricing with an understanding that will change when they receive funding.

Common pitfalls of product development companies

Having helped startups for over 10 years, we’ve uncovered a handful of pitfalls that product development services companies often fall into. If you’re hiring a company for product development, be on the lookout for these red flags.

Not tailoring their approach to the company’s size
Development for a large company should be fundamentally different from development for a startup.

Bigger firms need a consultative approach. Our presentations for startups--including business drivers, technology solutions, and suggestions for scaling the business--don’t apply to enterprise customers. Their IT department already has restrictions and requirements. They come to developers with a technology already chosen. Enterprise customers might ask for the rates of specific types of developers and technologies, and then put those names in a stack of envelopes, selecting one for a specific activity at some point in the future.

On the other hand, startups need an in-depth, tailored solution. They arrive with an idea and need help accomplishing it. They can accept a company becoming part of their team, contributing to every step of the product development lifecycle.

Not pushing back against shortsighted requests
Product development companies should push back against their client’s wishes more often.

Traditionally, product development firms use a “yes-man” mentality. When offered any project, they simply start churning out code. This view is shortsighted. Customers often make requests that cause future problems.

Instead, AppVelocity pushes back. We might say, “I know that’s the cheaper route right now, but it will prevent your business from scaling long-term.” We want clients that prioritize their future business goals, and we aren’t afraid to lose clients that don’t fit us.

There’s also something to be said for playing hard-to-get. We’ve been known to tell clients, “If we aren’t a good fit, we’re happy to refer you to another firm.” That often makes the client realize our level of integrity and quality, and be more likely to hire us.

We’ve seen firms that will do anything to get business. It comes off as grovelling. We never want to approach a client that way. We prefer to approach clients wanting what’s best for them, and we’re okay if that’s not us.

Using one-size-fails-all technology
Whenever you feel like you’re “cheating the system,” you’ll run into hairy problems down the line. App-builders like Squarespace or Wix are great examples. They allow a company to start cheaper and faster today, but those decisions will cause huge headaches.

Parse, for instance, was the Squarespace for databases. Using Parse, you could put together an entire back-end without knowing how to code.

Then, Parse shut down. Every app built on its platform stopped working. For those companies, rebuilding wasn’t just as simple as swapping out an API key or copy-pasting new code. Every single app needed to be re-architected.

Originally, Parse seemed like a cheap and fast option. In the long run, every app that used Parse went down for a significant amount of time. What does that mean for their customers?

One-size-fits-all choices often come from the perspective of get-rich-quick schemes. Entrepreneurs may have the misguided belief that a little bit of work is just as good as a lot of work. That’s always a farce. With architecture, especially, it won’t last as long if you don’t put in the initial effort.

Conclusion: use product development solutions that last

Too often, development firms build a technical solution without factoring in a long-term goal. They may rapidly churn out code, but the customer’s going to pay for it later.

AppVelocity isn’t always the cheapest option, but we pride ourselves on building for the future. We’ve had clients rehire us year after year because everything we build is built to last.

Does your startup need product development with a focus on the long-term? Contact AppVelocity.

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