April 10, 2017

Stories of an MVP

Running a smartphone protection pilot with our early adopters

Fabricio Vargas Matos

Fabricio Vargas Matos

Co-founder & CTO

We've been running a smartphone protection pilot with our early adopters, using only Excel, WhatsApp, SurveyMonkey and PicPay, and always engaging users in discussions in our "co-creation" group to understand what's really going to deliver the best experience. Today we can say that delaying the development of our app was the best decision we made.

But now the time has come to start this part of the project, but to show how important this decision was, we want to show how our original vision changed completely after the pilot.

Today we have an infinitely superior (and validated in practice) view of the features that really add value to our users, but when we look back, it becomes painfully clear how we had the original app design orbiting around blockchain technology, rather than experience of protection itself. It’s strange because we have a great experience in developing apps, UX, and the whole thing, but at the time we were very focused on the beauty of blockchain technology, and the need to solve specific cryptocurrency world problems such as private key management, (actually random) seeds for hierarchical portfolios, while in fact part of it was not as high priority, not to mention that an ideal technology should be invisible.

Original MVP design
Original MVP design before experiences with smartphone pilot

But we made the right choice, and we were able to learn a lot without spending money and time scheduling an app that would not work very well. That does not mean that today all the challenges for an "invisible" blockchain are solved, but many of these issues simply do not have to be resolved now, and have become part of a constantly evolving roadmap. In addition, as we focus on what adds value to the user, business validation, partnership development, and early adopter base growth, Blockchain technology as a whole has matured, integration with cloud computing capabilities are appearing, and part of the technological problems are being solved, allowing us to focus more on our core business.

But stories and lessons aside, our users are currently missing a tool that is not so impromptu and that inspires more confidence. In a recent survey with them, the main reason for them not to invite many of the relatives, co-workers and other friends to the platform is that they do not have the same early adopter profile as they do, and without an appropriate app they don't feel comfortable in doing it.

So, for this and other reasons, we decided it's time to take another step and develop our first app version, something that is a really viable MVP. However, we decided to develop it incrementally, putting each new feature into production with the pilot group as soon as it is ready. It will be killer!

As we are "bootstrap", that is, a new company that has not received any type of investment, the money is obviously very short. And although we wish we could dedicate 100% to the business, we have bills to pay and we still need to reconcile our work with Mutual.Life with other activities that generate us income. Thankfully, we are all consultants with flexible hours.

How will it be, then? We decided to take on the development of the more complex parts of the backend, for which our experience is fundamental, but we are looking for a more economically viable alternative for the app development itself (front end and APIs). And the best alternative we found was to get closer to the Federal Institute of Espírito Santo, more specifically, the LEDs laboratory which aims to provide hands-on experience for students and help them connect to the job market. After much discussion, we are now finalizing the legal procedures for the conclusion of an ECTI agreement through FACTO foundation so that we can make the partnership feasible, which will allow us to allocate some scholarships for IT students, and giving some counterparts as technological and methodological skills, we will achieve have a small team running on the premises of LEDs in the IFES, under the supervision of teachers.

Of course, we would like to be able to afford hiring market professionals and being able to develop the whole platform at a much higher speed, but we also see other advantages in this model, especially in the possibility of cheaper training of students and later hiring them, as well as the possibility of a longer-term partnership with IFES for the development of other research projects.

The truth is, as Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, said, "Starting a company is like throwing yourself off the cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down.” Well, we threw ourselves! Now we need to assemble the airplane with what we have, one way or the other.

Fabricio Vargas Matos

Fabricio Vargas Matos

Co-founder & CTO

With master's degree in computer science (BSc, MSc) and a specialized in Blockchain (Bitcoin and Ethereum), 15 years coordinating software projects for the corporate market and mobile apps, he served as CTO in 3 startups.


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