Be the best on a shoestring budget

Would you rather have a whole grape or a slice of a watermelon? At Appsters, we focus on what we are good at. We are a team of dedicated web developers who enjoy working on algorithms and code optimization. But in the tech industry, projects demand design and marketing teams at the very least. Let’s face it, with an all developer company who is going to design those beautiful website interfaces? and unless you have a marketing team to pitch to clients we won’t have any projects to work on at all.

Short answer: collaborations. Appsters is in a collaborative relationship with at least 5 marketing agencies and design houses. The key element here is to consider these partner agencies as an extension to our own company. We respect their time, meet work deadlines, go to meetings with their clients. A healthy collaborative partnership demands looking at things from our partner’s perspective. Make no mistake, no two agencies have the same set of work methodology and we cannot apply one-size-fits-all rule. So we forge friendships keeping that delicate personal-professional balance. We have off-the-record meetings to understand the vision for their companies. Sometimes we extend small freebee favours because we are looking for long-term partnerships. On average, it takes around two to three months to understand a newly on-board agency’s culture and mindset. And this time is definitely worth the investment. As long as we have been in the business we have yet to face a work in-flow problem. Our partners take care of us. Collaboration allow us to work with the brightest minds in the industry. Efficient teams who specialize in their respective fields. We are constantly energized with fresh ideas and our brains are continuously challenged to brainstorm.

Our collaborative based business model works well for us as a startup company. It gives us room to grow. The only problem for us is to find human resource to fit into our company culture. Since the computer programming community is generally antisocial and we have a demanding job description which goes beyond coding. It involves being open-minded while meeting clients, having a pleasant personality, and always carry a certain humility to be able to learn from different professionals. Additionally, few people have the entrepreneurial spirit to truly understand the joys and vows of working in a startup culture. But, if we compromise in the hiring process then we won’t be able to stay on top of our game and inevitably our partner companies will part ways from us.

Like any good startup company, we have three primary priorities:

  • Taking care of the team
  • Saving religiously with a target to have a year’s backup in the kitty
  • Investing in a cool office

These core values will remain at heart when we scale. The fundamental question is to when we can afford to hire professionals and form design and marketing departments, will we give up on our business model to forge a new one? Unlikely! because its too much damn fun. In the late 90s, Russel Friedland said: “A good development team should be able to fit in one car for a trip for beer and pizzas.” We are problem solvers who solve everyday problems, making lives better for people and brands. Keeping our line of work in perspective, we will be having a maximum of 5 member team led by a strong leader. InshaAllah when we grow, we will form more clusters with a couple of teams dedicated to work with our collaborative partners.

This article was originally written for Edwardes Business Review (April 2015) – a Quarterly Publication of Edwardes College, Peshawar, Pakistan.

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