The Innovative Way We Make Sure You Don't Get "Stuck In The Build" - Neutech, Inc.
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The Innovative Way We Make Sure You Don’t Get “Stuck In The Build”

In October of 2020, most of our social lives consisted of “Zoom happy hours,” drinking beers in front of our screens, socially distancing, while catching up with friends in other time zones – or maybe in the same zip code.

If your social circle is anything like mine, one of the hot topics of conversation during these Zoom happy hours was the total and complete failure of Quibi – the short form video streaming service designed for people to enjoy on their phones. Its implosion held a so-bad-you-can’t-look-away fascination for those of us in the tech world.

It seemed so promising! Led by veteran Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP CEO Meg Whitman, Quibi raised two billion dollars (with a B!) before it even launched. So what happened? Why did Quibi shutter six months after launch?

They got stuck in the build.

They weren’t sure what they were doing or why. They weren’t able to adapt to changes. They didn’t pivot when they should have.

Does this sound familiar? After almost a decade sitting at the helm of my own tech business, and advising countless founders, CTOs, and investment professionals, my team and I see this far too often.

Client comes to agency with a great idea -> agency and client work together to design a concept -> agency starts to build out the concept -> 7 million changes are suggested -> tons of money and time go into those changes -> months pass, no MVSP (Minimum Viable Sellable Product– because what good is a product if it can’t make it to market?) is ever launched, everyone wants to pull their hair out. 

This is so common! And so incredibly frustrating for everyone involved. 

The client is rightfully frustrated because they’ve spent time and money and they don’t have an MVSP (Minimum Viable Sellable Produt) to show for it. The engineers are rightfully frustrated because they’ve spent months building (and repeatedly changing) something that will never get to market.

It’s a lose / lose for everyone involved – except for the agency of course – who’s happy to continue billing you your monthly retainer for the foreseeable future.

Here at Neutech we’re obsessed with your success, not our billables. Click To Tweet

That’s why we’re trying to change the industry standard by only providing Minimum Viable Sellable Products to our clients.

Because we know firsthand it doesn’t have to be like this. Like every other tech agency, we’ve had our experiences like the one described above. But we’ve also had experiences where everything just … clicked, where we were able to get our client’s MVSP to market in 3-4 MONTHS. 

After dozens of these incredibly smooth MVSP launches, we started to investigate the common denominators.

What had we done differently with these smooth, easy launches?

Could we systematize this process?

Was there a way to create a method that meant we could promise our clients an MVSP in less than 6 months?

Yes. Yes! We call this process The Neutech Wave and it has totally revolutionized the way we do business and the speed at which we can help our clients get an MVSP launched and making money.

This process means you won’t get “stuck in the build.” If you follow our process, you’ll have a minimum viable sellable product ready in 3 – 4 months. Promise.

Step 1 of The Neutech Wave // Concept Phase: 4 – 8 weeks

I’d describe this first step of our process as “DIWY” – Do It With You. You and your Neutech team work alongside each other to decide on a great concept.

During this time, we’re thinking about the designs your current audience might be used to. If your audience is a bit older, maybe they’re more comfortable with something that looks and feels like Facebook. If you’re marketing to Gen Z your UX options, fonts, and colors might be different. 

Last year, we worked on an app called Boss Life, a fun, phone-based video game targeted at Gen Z. During the concept phase, our clients honed in on the colors (bright), vibe (funny / silly) and the tasks players would be completing in the game (hiring, firing, signing contracts, etc.)

Spending this time to think about who will use your product, how they’ll use it, and what they’re accustomed to will save you so much time and money in the long run! We’ll be able to help you design the app in the fewest amount of screens, with the least amount of development, and the fewest amount of features – which means a lower price point to you and getting your MVSP to market faster.

And who’s helping you answer these questions and come up with your concept? Your core team.

  • Senior technical architect
  • Senior product UI/UX designer
  • Your Growth Expert

During the concept phase, you’ll be working with a designer who can bring your idea to life and will think through things from a UI / UX perspective. You’ll work with a senior technical architect who can tell you – point blank – how feasible something is.

What’s particularly awesome about each project that uses The Neutech Wave? You get your own Growth Expert who’s with you for the length of the project. The whole dang thing – from “I’ve got a cool idea for an app” to millions of people downloading and using your product every day.

We handpick each Growth Expert for each project. We’ll choose a Growth Expert for you who understands your specific industry, has experience launching products, and can help you conceptualize and scope your MVSP.

So if you want to launch an app that’s in the healthcare space, we’ll pair you with a Growth Expert who understands all the complexities of HIPAA compliance. Right now, we’re working with a pharmaceutical company that wants to build an AI scraper and it needs to be HIPAA compliant.

Luckily for them, we have a Growth Expert on our team who’s an expert at hospital systems because she worked in the healthcare system before becoming a Growth Expert. This means she understands the inner workings of the software that hospitals use, the importance of things like HIPAA, and how data travels. She’ll be able to help the development team plan their project so it addresses the different needs of a healthcare business, but is also an innovative solution. What an incredible resource for that client, right?!

Our Growth Experts understand the tech, design, and business aspects of launching products like yours.

Your Growth Expert will take your big, exciting ideas and transform them into: 

  • A solution to a problem people want solved
  • A solid business idea they believe will make money
  • A plan a technical architect understands and will sign off on
  • Something that can be realistically designed and developed in 3 months

It’s also worth noting that all our Growth Experts are skilled in cross-cultural communication. Too often our clients have been burned working with engineers based outside of the U.S. and they’re concerned about navigating cultural differences. Your Growth Expert will handle all of that for you – think of them as your “emotional translator.”

What your Neutech Wave Growth Expert will help you with during the concept phase:

  • Scoping down your idea to a true Minimum Viable Sellable Product – What are the must-have features that this beta version needs to bring it to market? How much ROI are you getting? How are you going to monetize this product?
  • Walk you through best practices specific to the industry you’re launching in
  • Communicate your needs and desires to the tech team
  • Be a sounding board for any questions, doubts, or concerns
  • Understand your vision so they can make sure the build goes according to plan

Definition Of “Done” For The Concept Phase

How do we know we’re ready to move from the concept phase to the build phase? We have a fully clickable Figma prototype of your MVSP, full API documentation, and full testing criteria. We know what the functionality of your product is going to be. There will be zero surprises as to what your product can and can’t do.

Having a clickable prototype allows any senior engineer to go in and see everything from start to finish so they can plan the project accordingly and be as efficient as possible – which means a lower price point for you and being faster to market! If there’s a screen that happens ten times in this app – because the senior engineer has the full clickable prototype – they’ll build it once rather than building it ten different times.

With this process, you’ll know exactly how it’s going to work, how it’s going to look, and how it’s going to navigate. Incredible, right?!

Step 2 of The Neutech Wave // Build Phase: 2 – 3 months

At this point in The Neutech Wave, we move from Do It With You to Do It For You. What a relief! You can just sit back and watch the magic happen!

Why do we lean into doing it for you during the build phase? Because we take accountability for building your MVSP in the timeframe we promised you, with the team we promised you.

We don’t want an outsider to lead the team in a way that they’re not familiar with or plan things in a way that’s going to get you stuck in the build phase. Instead, we’re going to have our project managers and our team come in and architect this in the perfect way.

If you’re looking at the numbers in that heading and thinking “Jared, I reallllllly don’t think you can build my MVSP in 2 – 3 months,” – hear me out.

We approach your MVSP build phase the same way a skilled architect would approach building a home. Of course you’ll have regular meetings with your project manager, your interior designer, and your electrician! You’d be welcome to ask questions, seek clarification, and ask for progress reports.

You may have the choice of which toilet you want to put in the house, but – to continue the metaphor – the location of the toilet and the plumbing is handled by the plumber. The general contractor will tell them how to do it, not you the homeowner.

Similarly, you wouldn’t go to the building site after hours and poke around in the mud and wet cement – that’s dangerous. It also wouldn’t be an option to add a new doorway, a third floor, and a wine cellar after the framing has gone up. If you did that, your house would be delayed and it might even be uninhabitable. We don’t want that for you – or for us, frankly!

We use the same approach to building your MVSP. Using this process limits your risk and creates an almost no-fail experience.

The experts who are part of your team during the build phase:

  • Your Growth Expert will continue to guide you through the build phase. They’ll be there for you every step of the way.
  • In the build phase, your UI/UX designer will become your QA – who better to inspect and test than the person who designed the product?
  • A senior technical architect and a Neutech Master Builder will lead a team of senior level engineers to build your fully scoped MVSP.

During the build phase, we bring a new team member on: your Master Builder. Your Master Builder is one of the top 1% of engineers; they can build things in their sleep and they’ve seen every problem, appear in every variation. Part of what makes these Master Builders so spectacular is their hunger to solve complex problems with elegant solutions. This is their zone of genius and at Neutech we respect their desire to continue building forever.

One of our Master Builders – Baretto!

Your Master Builder will be building and helping the team during the build phase. These Master Builders are one of the reasons we can get your MVSP to market in 3 months – they’ve seen it all and they can fix it all.

Along with your Master Builder will come your senior engineering crew. Throughout the build phase you’ll have 5 – 6 people working on your project, but only 3 – 4 people will be working simultaneously. We determine how many people you need simultaneously before the build phase begins.

When they’re on your project, they’re fully dedicated, but you don’t need a DevOps or an AWS person the whole time, right? You’ll only need them for part of the project, but we still want you to get to know them, feel comfortable interacting with them, and understand what they’re doing.

Case study: Connyct

What do you do when you discover – part way through the build phase – the third party filtering API your client needed for their social media app doesn’t have native IOS functionality because the vendor didn’t finish coding that module?

Welp, usually you’d panic and then call in your senior engineer who’d decide to use a different API and different solution. Which makes sense! But we had a Master Builder by the name of Brito on this project who DECIDED TO FINISH CODING IT HIMSELF?!!!

He took their SDK and built stuff on top of it that finished the integration so we could use the functionality of that perfectly good API. Mind blowing, right? The solutions an average senior engineer would have suggested would have worked – but what Brito did? It saved our clients time, money, and helped them get to market a lot faster – months faster.

Here’s what Connyct founder Matt Berman had to say about the experience: From the outset, Neutech’s blend of speed, expertise, and communication prowess was world-class. For their first assignment, Neutech faced an aggressive deadline. They undertook the colossal task of rebuilding our backend infrastructure. Their expertise and dedication enabled us to seamlessly scale our architecture, readying our platform to support millions of users without a hitch.”

Definition Of “Done” For The Build Phase

We define a MVSP as the minimum viable SELLABLE product. Once the build matches the API and the clickable prototype you’ve signed off on, we’re officially done with the build phase!

Step 3 in The Neutech Wave // Client Acceptance Phase: 2-3 weeks

We try to toe the line between “spotting and fixing as many bugs as possible” and “adding useless bells and whistles” when it comes to your MVSP. We want it out there making you money ASAP!

So you get 2 – 3 weeks to use and test the MVSP fully to look for bugs or issues. Your build team will stay on to fix these bugs.

Step 4 in The Neutech Wave // The Growth Phase: Forever?

You’ve launched that MVSP and people are using your platform – congrats! You’re officially in the growth phase! And all those people who were on the team that got you here? You can choose a couple of them to stay on, maintain your product, and continue building it.

In fact, you can view the concept phase and the build phase as an elongated interview so you can pick and choose who you want to work with long term. And as you navigate the build phase, your Growth Expert will be sharing everything they’ve been doing to lead the team along the way. They’ll show you how to Scrum and how to ask the right questions. Your Growth Expert hands the keys over to your team, having prepared and empowered you every step of the way.

And once your app or platform is making money and attracting buzz? You’ve still got that incredible Growth Expert looking out for you and meeting with you every two weeks to see how things are going.

Questions your Neutech Wave Growth Expert might ask during the growth phase:

  • How are things going with your developers? Would you like to swap in someone new or stick with the people who were on the build team?
  • Do you need more people?
  • Do you have any specific problems you want to talk through? 

Our clients find an incredible peace of mind from having the same Growth Expert – and often the same engineers – from start to finish. You know your product is in good hands because these are the folks who helped you conceptualize this thing in the first place! There’s rarely a better fit than someone who’s been there since the beginning. They’ll be there to continue working on growing, iterating, and maintaining the product as your team grows.

Case study: Walla

This is exactly what happened with our client Walla. They use our talent to scale their team up and down in a way that’s beneficial to the viability of the business – but they’re the ones running the show. Our team members are – for all intents and purposes – full time employees at Walla, but Walla can scale up and down whenever they want.

Walla has their own product manager, CTO, product roadmap, designer, and QA engineers. They have their own everything. We’re there as the people who built things for them and will maintain those things and build new ones.

Whew! If you’re still with us, here’s the TL:DR of how we keep our clients from getting “stuck in the build”:

  • Concept Phase: 4 – 8 weeks
    Together with your core team, you decide on the concept of your MVSP. We know we’re done with the concept phase when you have a fully clickable Figma prototype of your MVSP, full API documentation, and full testing criteria.
  • Build Phase: 2 – 3 months
    Here we move from DIWY (Do It With You) to DIFY (Do It For You). A Master Builder and their senior engineering crew joins your team and your Growth Expert guides the project. You get to sit back, relax, and watch the experts work!
  • Client Acceptance Phase: 2 – 3 weeks
    This is when we test for bugs or any issues.
  • Growth Phase: Forever?
    Take the opportunity to bring some of your Neutech team members on to your in-house team to help you maintain and grow the project they helped build!

We’re so proud of this process and what it’s been able to do for our clients – less stress, smooth launches, and MVSPs on the market and making money less than 6 months after you jotted the idea into your notes app. If this sounds good to you, grab a spot on my calendar and let’s talk about your next project! 

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