I’ve run CookiesHQ since 2011, and some of our clients have been with us the entire time. Here are three lesser-known ways those startups benefit from trusting a technical agency with their digital projects.
If you’re a startup founder and don’t have any or all of the technical skills you need to get the ball rolling, you normally have three choices:
- find a CTO (chief technical officer) to come onboard as a co-founder and lead all technical decisions.
- work with a local freelancer who will help you build and launch your product.
- choose to partner with a digital agency that specialises in working with startups.
Now, it’s true that hiring an agency to create your minimum viable product (MVP) can be more expensive and possibly more strict (in terms of the development process) than the other methods. Going with a cheaper option might seem like the sensible option at this early stage.
After all, isn’t a startup supposed to save as much cash as possible?
Well, yes – and no. Getting the right partnership has many hidden benefits and could save you time, money and stress in the long run. Here’s how.
1. Availability of skills
When it comes to creating an app you’ll most likely need to tap into a variety of different skills.
‘An agency is made up of professionals who are already effective at working together.’
When you take on an agency, you benefit from the skills of a multidisciplinary team who can step in and out of your project as needed.
Developing an app requires a broad set of abilities. A typical agency will be able to offer a:
- product owner who can keep everyone on schedule
- designer who will anticipate your users’ needs
- frontend developer who can build a fast and accessible experience
- backend developer who will seamlessly organise your server interactions
Some agencies may also offer testing, copywriting and marketing services.
An agency is made up of professionals who are ready to devote themselves to solving your problem, and are already effective at working together.
Support from ideation to realisation
We partnered with Good Sixty, one of our portfolio investments, after a productive discovery session.
Our project team looked at founder Chris’ market research and requirements, and worked with him to produce a delivery plan for the MVP. We then put everything into building the app, creating an attractive frontend, a solid backend and a backup strategy, before overseeing the deployment process.
After a successful crowdfunding campaign, we’ve implemented new user interactions, user journeys and designs.
If Good Sixty had tried to hire in all that expertise themselves, they would have had to hire four or five full-time team members. Or coordinate planning between a handful of freelance staff. Instead, they partnered with a ready-to-go team, avoiding the headache of people management and freeing up time to focus on what they were good at – growing the business.
2. Continuity of service
A good technical partner will work alongside you for a long time. Currently, our longest standing active client has been with us for eight years!
‘Using an agency mitigates risk by spreading knowledge of your application across multiple people.’
A lot can happen in that space of time. Team members may want a new challenge and move on, you may have to make cutbacks because of budget or you might hire someone who isn’t a good fit.
This variability become problematic if your startup relies on a single freelancer or do-it-all development person. If this person can’t fulfil their role, a rapid hand over dance has to happen before your project can progress. If the change is unexpected, your project could be gathering dust for weeks or months until you find the right person to get it going again.
Using an agency mitigates this risk by spreading knowledge of your application across multiple people. At CookiesHQ, at least two developers will always have an up-to-date and working project codebase as well as a decent knowledge of each application, ready to take over if anything goes wrong.
Planning for the worst gets good results
For ages, planning for every eventuality seemed like a waste of time.
Then, a few months ago, our backend dev James was hospitalised for weeks after a snowboarding accident. Suddenly we were down a team member and very glad that we had a backup plan to share with our clients.
Within days we had a developer ready to build the final part of an application with a strict deadline. The client could relax knowing it was our responsibility to get them the developer to speed and the project stayed on schedule.
Knowing that, whatever happens, you will always get the support you need is a huge benefit of partnering with an agency.
3. Wealth of experience
The benefit of partnering with an agency is greater than the sum of the people that compose it and the processes they employ.
‘A fast build time means a smaller cost, shorter feedback loop and more focus – what’s not to like?’
Startup-focused agencies are able to leverage a multi-talented team to follow and refine processes from one project to another. Every project that team completes together becomes a learning exercise that benefits every client that follows.
That experience enables shorter build times, more robust applications and a quicker feedback loop with your users overall. You get to experience working with a slick machine that doesn’t need any hand holding and has the expertise to challenge your ideas for the benefit of the product. Agency teams get their heads down and build fast.
Effectiveness even other techies admire
It’s our collective experience in fast development that our clients value, even when they have a techie background themselves.
Our long-time client, Card Nest, calls on us time and time again for our ‘fast and continuous’ service. This is what allowed them to build small feature incrementally and test the product with their users, before raising the funds to build the full-featured app we know today.
A fast build time means a smaller cost, shorter feedback loop and more focus – what’s not to like?
Like most things the devil is in the details, and the most important word here is ‘partnership’. You need to find a team you can trust – one that goes beyond ‘service provider’ status and takes pride in building your product. Ideally, you want an agency that is eager to play a role in your journey to success.
You may be thinking ‘of course an agency owner would recommend partnering with an agency!’ but I hope this guide has shone a light on some of the less obvious – and highly valuable – benefits of partnering with studios like ours.
And of course, I don’t expect you to take my word for it! If you think CookiesHQ could be a good fit for your startup, drop me an email directly and we’ll let you know how we can help.