The 4 Most Common Mistakes Startups Make When Choosing a Technology Partner

by Marina Ozhohanych

Collaborating with a brilliant technology partner is a smart way of developing an exceptional product within budget and on time. Together, you can come up with innovative solutions, or even launch several projects at once. In this digital era, technological advances happen daily and consumer expectations are very high. Depth of expertise has never been more crucial. 

Choosing the wrong technology partner for your software development can be disastrous, especially for startups. If you invest in a product that crashes regularly or is filled with bugs, things can go wrong fast. Your staff may be disadvantaged, and you could lose customers. If you don’t get things resolved quickly, your investment might go down the drain; you may be forced out of business. The consequences can be disastrous.

As you can see, there is a lot at stake when selecting a partner for your software development. The onus is on the startup to choose a reliable technology partner who will develop their product from the very beginning and support it all the way through. A good partner also tends to attract and retain exceedingly competent software developers, which helps with continuity.

The following are the most common mistakes startups make when choosing a technology partner:

1. Rushing through specifications and overall software architecture design due to a limited budget

In order to save costs, many startups don’t take enough time for thorough business analysis, requirements determination, and planning when it comes to software. Full architecture development can be pricey, but the investment is integral to the success of the product going forward. Skimping at the planning stages is a false economy. With proper initial planning and detailed product descriptions, the costs at the end of the development will be minimal. You will avoid unforeseen change requests and achieve greater viability and product scalability. 

The Pareto principle (also referred to as the 80/20 rule, the principle of factor sparsity, or the law of the vital few) suggests 20 percent of a person’s actions will account for 80% of their results. The investment of time, money, and effort into the development of your specifications and architecture is an investment into a profitable future. It’s a great way to increase the chances for product success. 

It is crucial to create a general technical vision of the product at the beginning. This is where you zero in on what exactly you need. What technologies do you want to apply to your business idea? Conduct a thorough review of the options and highlight the pros and cons of each. Then, work closely with your Business Analyst, Project Manager, System Architect, and other technical experts to ensure that every aspect of your vision is in place. 

Over 90 percent of tech ideas fail because they develop features that neither bring value nor money. This is where selecting the wrong technology partner can create additional chaos and increase the risk of failure. Choose a partner who carefully examines all aspects of your business idea to understand your objectives and consumers. With this insight, they can facilitate the creation of technical aspects that will benefit your business. 

We know how to scale a business idea into a thriving company. Startups that work with us grow into profitable businesses or get acquired by large global enterprises on great terms. One of the best examples is our 4+ years of cooperation with SOSsitter, a full-service portal for fast and easy caregiver hiring. When we engaged with them, they were a fledgling startup, and they are now a hugely profitable company. Due to the intricate payment flow issues and user scenarios, the project was considered one of the most complex on the market, but because we communicated effectively with the company, it was a success. SOSsitter won the StartupCanada Social Enterprise Award 2017 for the province of Quebec. 

Are you facing technical uncertainty? Book a session with Unicsoft experts for free. 

2. Making price a priority, over quality

Another common mistake startups make when choosing a technology partner is placing too much emphasis on price, paying little or no attention to the quality of the services. Sure, the lure of a cheap technology partner is tempting for cash-strapped startups. However, these savings cannot come at the expense of quality. Most startups are quick to agree on undetailed Request for Proposal (RFP) offering the lowest cost and shortest terms without fully appreciating the risks they are taking on. 

Giving vague requirements without explicitly stating your needs can cause misleading low quotes. Deprioritizing of non-functional requirements is another main reason for underestimating the development budget. 

The real budget and development time often turns out to be 3-5 times larger than estimated. Make sure you work with your partner to come up with detailed requirements. You will then receive significantly more accurate estimates from your technology partner and avoid problems later. 

Unicsoft provides very detailed estimates, with minimum and maximum hours and costs. We describe each feature, quoting an exact number of hours for each item in the list. Everything is included, so the risks are on us, not on you. Request a free consulting session to see how we might be able to help.

3. Trusting software development companies that have no experience working with startups

Software development companies with limited experience tend to be cheap. Obviously, this attracts startups. However, there is so much chaos that comes with choosing a technology partner without any relevant experience. These partners tend not to be flexible enough, and they usually charge additional costs after signing an agreement. A low budget for MVP product development usually results in sub-par products. Often, they have to be remade later by more competent teams.

Unicsoft has extensive experience working with startups. We know how to eliminate risks with detailed analysis of requirements. The startup gets full transparency and always knows how much time was spent, what was done, the current budget status, and what’s next. We always communicate openly and provide full information about the current situation. You’ll be kept informed of our progress towards meeting your expectations in terms of time and budget. As a caring partner, we always advise what’s best for your startup. We want you to be sustainable in your development. We don’t just want to deliver a product and move on. Unicsoft genuinely cares about your product’s success and we are always here to help. We will gladly assist you in finding additional partners for legal or business consulting. We’ll help you to prepare for a pitch. We’ll even do our best to help you receive additional investment, etc. 

We see ourselves a partner, in every sense of the term, not just a one-off contractor.

Complete analysis of a technical solution prior to commencing development helps avoid delays or design flaws. Without a strong discovery phase, in startup development, the go-to-market execution will be a nightmare. Choose our special workshop offer and work together with the Unicsoft team, either on-site or online, to analyze your business idea, objectives, and customers in order to facilitate technical aspects to benefit your business. We know how to help you deliver an innovative software product from scratch and scale it. Order a free consulting meeting now to find out more about our special workshop offer for startups. 

With Unicsoft you can scale rapidly and shorten your time to market without the hassle of recruitment. It takes us just 3-10 days to gather the right team of developers before starting your project. In-house recruitment will you a month or even longer, and you might not hire the right developers in the end. We are flexible in our business model and can adjust to your startup’s specific needs. With our personal approach, we always communicate openly and find the most suitable solution for you.

We take pride in our reputation as a trusted partner for a product’s entire lifespan. We can develop the MVP, add new features, launch the product, and then support it. We are responsible and reliable. Most importantly, we have experience working with startups. 

For instance, we developed a custom solution that was integrated with Ethereum’s private blockchain network to track the gold supply chain, through smelting, processing, and trading outlets to consumers. This solution is built for compliance; it aims to enhance transparency in the supply chain for the gold mining industry. It ensures responsible gold mining, eliminates fraud, and helps prevent violations in terms of human rights, safety, environmental and political regulations. The MVP was given the nod by the National Mining Regulations. 

4. Focusing on short-term results rather than concentrating on the long-term evolution of the product

Don’t just focus on creating and ignore the customers. No successful business was built solely on nice-to-have features. Make sure you align user needs with product features. Listen to your customers and keep your long-term goals in mind. 

Identify key technical challenges so you can cope with them and move on and get a prototype together. Then, you can get some invaluable customer feedback. Developing an MVP is all about getting a product into the hands of your customers quickly and learning from their response. Evaluate their feedback and move on with scaling your product so you can start to monetize faster. Ideally, you can grow your startup by combining development with user research. Success comes when you embrace criticism, even when it’s tough to hear. At Unicsoft, we don’t always praise you. We provide honest and reasonable constructive feedback based on our many years of experience. We care about your success and want to help you achieve it. 

Choose a software development partner who is ready to share the whole startup journey with you. Build a strong relationship so you are always on the same page. Discuss everything upfront and in detail, and prioritize key points throughout the process. Spend enough time on the initial analysis, project overview, planning, and a detailed description. With a partner who knows what they’re doing, your decisions will be data-driven rather than based on risky hypotheses. Don’t hesitate to bring in qualified technical expertise, as it will provide you with detailed development insight. 80% of project success is determined even before the first line of code is written. If you do it smartly, you will create a more user-friendly and customer-oriented product right off the bat. 

A road map is absolutely essential for investors and developers. It will guide you and keep you focused on the main goals, even when you get caught up in the day-to-day routine and lose sight of the whole picture. Make sure you keep revising and reviewing your documents (business plan and road map) so you can keep track of the development process. It helps to keep everything in perspective. 

That being said, don’t put all your time into planning, thinking that you’re being productive. Use the team’s time wisely and strike the right balance. Plan, but be flexible at the same time. Constantly re-evaluate your startup’s direction. It’s a competitive world for startups, so adapting quickly when needed is crucial. 

Below is a selection of success stories we are proud of.

Kokoro – an HR tool

Our collaboration with Kokoro’s team goes back to 2016, with another project. Because they had a positive experience with Unicsoft, they trusted us with the development of Kokoro, first for the Android platform and then on iOS. Unicsoft managed the development for Kokoro from scratch. The product is an innovative HR tool for defining workplace satisfaction and psychological safety by assessing team members’ emotions. 

In June 2018, the Kokoro application was officially launched and favorably accepted by the public. The positive reception brought the following value and growth to the client:

  • They obtained additional investments for further development.
  • They expanded their product with more than 10 additional emotion themes.
  • They developed two versions of the app: light and fully-functional. 
  • They were able to follow up on this success with the development of other HR tools.

TidyApp – a mobile platform for house cleaning services

TidyApp is now Sweden’s leading mobile platform for home cleaning. A few years ago, TidyApp was a startup planning to develop and deploy two mobile apps (for iOS and Android platforms). TidyApp decided to handle their iOS application with in-house developers, and they were looking for an efficient and professional development partner for the Android application. Unicsoft stepped in to build the service, which automatically matches independent cleaning partners with jobs based on the clients’ specific needs. TidyApp handles everything from background checks of cleaning staff and quality assurance to invoicing, taxes and insurance. 

The Android app was officially launched. The project now includes two versions – one for customers, and one for cleaning companies. 

Intellinote – a productivity tool for collaboration and project management

Our cooperation with Intellinote, the U.S. startup, began in 2013. Intellinote had raised a total of $4.8M. In 2016, Intellinote was acquired by BroadSoft, which on October 23, 2017, was acquired by Cisco for $1.9B. 

With Unicsoft’s developers as key participants of the project, a wealth of new features were developed during the year 2014. Intellinote became a comprehensive platform providing teams with the tools they needed to optimize their work and ensure productivity. As of December 2014, Intellinote had over 13,000 corporate customers globally. The company was able to focus on strategic goals and lead a startup to success, while Unicsoft handled the back office routine, recruiting developers and managing the day-to-day work. 

The cost of choosing the wrong technology partner

This is the best time to raise money ever. It might be the best time for any kind of business in any industry to raise money for all of history, like since the time of the ancient Egyptians,” says Flickr founder Stewart Butterfield. 

The startup failure rate numbers show that even with all the available capital, starting and running a business is still risky. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try – it just means you have to be smart about it. This is where going with the right or wrong technology partner can decide the outcome of your business. If you ignore all the above pieces of advice, you could face the following problems: 

  • Product features are not aligned with user needs, leading to prototype failure. 
  • You run out of cash quickly after going with a “ballpark” budget estimate.  
  • Without clear direction, work stretches on. You dramatically exceed the deadline and budget. 
  • You have to handle constant change requests.  

In serious cases, if you and your partner communicate poorly regarding business objectives, you might need to scrap everything and start over. 

All of the above risks can be eliminated by following our recommendations. Carefully consider each potential technology partner with these matters in mind. Begin your startup journey with the discovery phase, where you define all the details. Flesh the details out before you start spending too much money on product development. 

If you choose Unicsoft, you get a team working on something you believe in, with people you can learn a lot from. We work with you from scratch and stick with you all the way until your business becomes profitable. We use the latest tech to meet your business objectives: Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, IoT, and Web & Mobile Development. Unicsoft is a one-stop-shop for innovative and robust technology stacks. Our solutions are scalable, cost-effective, efficient, flexible and productive. Together we can start with MVP software development, then scale your product to a profitable venture. 

We’ll provide a precise estimate with well-defined project scope and goals. This helps you eliminate the risks of making costly changes in later development stages. With our expertise as a technology partner for startups, we can help you to build a more user-friendly and customer-oriented product from start. This means a greater chance of a high ROI. Reach out and arrange a free consulting session to find out more about our special workshop offer for startups. We’d love to hear about your ideas. Talk to us (at no cost), and then decide if you want us by your side to build and launch a disruptive product. 

 

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