How to save 90% of your development budget

By on in Design, Process, Product Management, Startups, User Research

Carbon Five was recently brought in to build a new product with a planned budget of 6 months. As the first step, we conducted a few rounds of customer development to try and validate the concept. After a month of experiments by a product manager and designer, we ultimately recommended that the company not pursue the idea. Our client spent a few weeks of consulting fees but saved more than 90% of their budget by not building anything.

The client for this project provides software to a niche set of businesses. As more and more competition started popping up, they believed they saw an opportunity to create a digital marketplace in their niche. Before Carbon Five started building software, the client wanted us to confirm demand for the marketplace.

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Top 10 Product Mistakes Made by First Time Founders

By on in Development, Product Management, Startups

 

The tech scene (especially in the Bay Area) has reached a point where it’s expanded way past techies. It seems successful people from all different industries are drawn to the promise, reach, and money in tech. Doctors, bankers, artists, and even educators are launching startups and talking about MVPs. It’s definitely exciting and inspires me everyday. But, building a great product is sometimes more of an art than a science, and first time founders make common mistakes. From a company that has worked with more startups than it can count, and has seen its fair share of first time product mistakes, here are some of the most common ones to avoid.

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The 10 Practices of Healthy Engineering Teams – Part 2

By on in Culture, Development, Process, Startups

In Part 1 of this series, we introduced a high-performing engineering team at SuperStartupCorp that had automated repetitive tasks, codified its engineering practices, and adopted a learning mindset, resulting in happy engineers and happy stakeholders. Read on to learn more traits and practices that make this team so successful, and how they keep their bus factor high. (If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can head on over to Part 3).

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Before You Build: How to Get Your Startup Off the Ground Without a Team

By on in Design, Startups

A group of people sketching

Photo from my colleague Yasmine Molavi’s sketching workshop

You’re starting a company. You’re so full of ideas that you have three PowerPoint decks! Wowza! You have a couple co-founders or maybe even an employee. If only your team had some engineers to build the product…

There are many, many important things you can do to give your product momentum before you build any software. Even if you have engineers, your team can (and should) do some of these activities in parallel to engage your audience, strengthen your product and beat out competitors. It’s important that the founders lead these activities because no one cares about the success of your company more than you.

This post covers finding customers, getting your brand and web presence started and how to get your product off the ground. The two most important things a founder can do is find their customers and establish channels for them to find you. I’ve helped to launch over forty websites and apps in my career. The ones that are successful had a growing list of interested customers (or an existing customer database) before launch. Continue reading …


Fintech Startups Continue Wall Street Transformation

By on in Announcements, Startups

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Back in 2008, I moved from Paris to New York City right as the Big Apple was in a Big Mess. I remember walking past a live air studio as a visibly flustered newscaster gestured erratically in front of an Armageddon-esque stock screen. And, I recall witnessing Barclays ascent on Lehman Brothers, encircling the iconic building in a virtual moat of town cars from which a flow of pinstriped suits scuttled.

Eight years later, I find myself back in New York and am happy to report that the financial sector is looking up again – thanks to the current wave of fintech innovation.

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Founder Five: Pete Shalek and Steve Marks from Joyable

By on in Everything Else, Startups

We’re catching up with some of the most inspiring founders we’ve worked with to share insights and advice from their experience of starting and growing businesses. Recently, we worked with the Joyable team on their iOS app, and we were inspired by their customer-focused mindset. For those who are not yet familiar, Joyable offers an online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program to help individuals overcome social anxiety. Every decision made by Pete and Steve from the outset was validated by real consumer experience.

We also published an extended version of this interview on Medium.

1) What was the “aha moment” that motivated you to start Joyable?

Pete: I knew I wanted to do something in healthcare, and I wanted to see problems on the ground [and] do some customer development work. So I convinced some doctors at Stanford Hospital, where I was in business school, to let me shadow them. I followed doctors in the emergency room for eight hours a day. It was fascinating and really fun. As anyone who works in a hospital will tell you, there are many things that can be improved in hospitals— even at great hospitals.

That hit me really hard. This idea that someone was in bad enough shape that they went to an emergency room, and they were being told to wait three months. – Pete Shalek

PeteShalekSteveMarks

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The 10 Practices of Healthy Engineering Teams – Part 1

By on in Culture, Development, Process, Startups

Behold the engineering team at SuperStartupCorp: their steady delivery of features, humble reception of feedback and crafting of well-architected software systems earn them praise up and down the company. The team greatly enjoys working together, and consistently leaves the office feeling accomplished, empowered, and happy.

happy_engineers

How is this team able to consistently deliver features for the business, while maintaining morale in a changing sea of fluctuating product requirements, leadership changes, and unplanned site emergencies? It wasn’t always this way.

Read on to learn the first three steps to this team’s journey towards engineering happiness. And don’t forget to read on to Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.

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Top Five Questions Founders Ask – Part 3

By on in Everything Else, Partner Interviews, Process, Startups

As a full-stack software consultancy, we at Carbon Five get lots of questions from clients past, present, and future. We’re passionate about sharing our industry knowledge, so we sat down with our leadership team and got some advice for aspiring founders and product leaders as part of an ongoing 6-part series. You can see all the interviews here.

Here, we sat down with Courtney Hemphill, partner and technical lead, to give us some insight into keeping your startup lean and functioning smoothly.

How can I find great developers to hire?

There are a couple things that I’m seeing right now that I feel like are smart plays to finding great developers. I think great developers are not people that are created in 12 weeks at a Bootcamp, I think they’re people who are really interested in solving problems, and they’ve just found that their modus operandi for solving problems happens to be in code. The equivalent holds true for design. They’re just solving problems through a visual experience versus code. Finding those people is what you want to do. That doesn’t really answer the question though so I would say that code languages are something that people get really interested in. Meaning that new languages are coming out and each of those languages can solve specific problems. Courtney Hemphill

I think great developers are not people that are created in 12 weeks at a Bootcamp, I think they’re people who are really interested in solving problems, and they’ve just found that their modus operandi for solving problems happens to be in code. The equivalent holds true for design. They’re just solving problems through a visual experience versus code.

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