As a software development company, we work with clients in various stages of their companies’ evolution. Some clients are Fortune 500 Enterprises that know exactly what features they need to cut costs in their business. Others are startups with merely a broad idea of a product they want to exist in the world. Recently, we engaged with a serial entrepreneur that had a vision for a technology product to take to market. Over this and the next 3 posts, we’ll discuss a mobile software development project: how we helped this client develop apps on mobile (iOS) and desktop (Mac OSX and Windows) platforms that communicate with each other.
In early 2015, Unstoppable began working with an entrepreneur who had identified a gap in the market for one of his businesses. He could not find good enough slideshow software for his event photography business. Meet Mike Simmons, a man of many talents, who has refined a value-added service he calls “instant photography.” What this means is taking photographs while walking around an event – such as a corporate conference or a wedding, and having them instantly display for guests to enjoy. Mike envisions photographers will be able to show images seamlessly on a projector or monitor. In Mike’s words:
I have been working in the photo entertainment industry for 10 years, and have always pieced together systems to make my ideas work. I struggled to find a stable software for this field, and no ability to run it with a remote. I know my business will grow because of this software, and I expect others in the business will also enjoy the growth.
When Mike first came to us, he had a lot of ideas for his product, such as building an expensive backend with loads of features like credit card processing and account management. He met with Sam Schutte, our Chief Software Architect and President, who helped nail down the scope of Mike’s vision. Over multiple discussions, Sam helped to break out what Phase 1 of the software would be. Rather than proposing a solution that may have cost a quarter million dollars for Mike just to get started, Sam followed a value-driven approach so Mike could gain benefits from the project without a huge amount of capital. Sam strategized with Mike about the most effective features to include, with every feature being directly tied to a revenue opportunity.
As a result, we provided Mike with a proposal to build both a Mac desktop app and an iPhone app, which mapped out the features over a 2 month effort. We discussed, in broad terms, what future phases might include, but focused on what it would cost to deliver something useful at a low up-front cost. Though our numbers came in over his budget, Mike appreciated our approachability and flexibility to produce exactly what he needed, without a bunch of overhead or fluff. And, as a result, we are happy to say that the app “Slidecaster” was born – the world’s best remotely controlled slideshow software for iPhone, Mac, and Windows.
We have found this value-driven process to be useful when working with entrepreneurs trying to fund a software product. Oftentimes, the entrepreneur has difficulty separating the scope of the final version of a product from what that first step should be to get started. He or she wants to build “Facebook” but hasn’t considered that it will take many strategic iterations to reach that grand vision. We can help reduce the cost of developing an app by determining what should be built first, and do it in a way that it serves as a solid foundation for that future vision.
In future posts, you can read more about Slidecaster. Once it comes out, get it here.