1. Can you introduce yourself & Modern Launch to the Dev to Agency readers?
Hello, fellow Dev to Agency readers!
2. How did Modern Launch start?
Ryan and I share a long history of working with technology and custom software. We both have worked directly with and for a wide range of technology companies supporting entrepreneurs, startups, and high-growth companies. In the past decade, we have also launched and sold several companies ranging from cryptocurrency fund management software to real estate analytics. This experience in launching and project managing tech products ultimately led us to look past our business ventures to assist other founders in reaching their goals.
3. Do you have a niche or an ideal customer type?
We’ve always been very passionate about startups. We’ve worked with entrepreneurs seeking technical co-founders, startups that need to add to their existing internal dev resources, and companies that are struggling to hire top tech talent internally. We are industry agnostic; however, we have done quite a lot of work in fintech, proptech, and connecting Web2 with Web3 technologies.
4. How did you find your first clients, and what was your strategy to find them?
Our first clients came from our own personal and professional networks. Upon launching, we made a point to share our company goals with our friends, family, and former colleagues. We published our linkedin page and quickly gathered 200+ followers which spurred quite a bit of attention. This actually landed a long-term client relationship with someone I hadn’t spoken to in years right from the start. Leveraging relationships has been our key to success thus far.
5. What challenges did you face early on, and how did you overcome them?
We faced many of the same challenges many new business owners face, specifically gaining traction, getting our names out there, and building a strong reputation in the space. We needed to get as many quotes out as possible. We did our best to combat the “new guy” struggle by leveraging our expertise and focusing on building trust first. Although the company was new, we weren’t starting at square one so the most important thing was to build on our portfolio and tackle some small new projects ASAP and build on relationships.
In our early client engagements, we were transparent with our clients about the company being a new entity to build trust up front. This paid off for the most part but we did lose some projects due to our infancy stage. Within 2 months we had several new clients under our belt and were building out a pipeline of work.
The sales process was and will forever be a challenge. Early on, estimating and quoting projects was a bottleneck and we quickly realized that we needed to change our approach. We received some valuable feedback from one of our mentors that continues to pay dividends in time and energy saved. It was simple, “Bring up costs on the first call.” Giving clients a rough estimate range from the get go is the best way to quickly set expectations and uncover barriers without wasting time on follow up emails, meetings, and calls.
We never want to waste anybody’s time and our time is valuable so being transparent about pricing is critical upfront.
6. Did you have a clear vision of what your business would be when you first started, and has that changed at all?
Yes and no.
I do think our trajectory goals remain the same for our long-term vision. The types of startups and high growth companies that we’ve worked with are very much in line with the target clients we had originally hoped for. However, the way we’ve approached internal process documentation, sales/marketing & business development, and project management has changed drastically and continues to change.
We try to run the business with an agile startup mentality despite being a service business which can be easier said than done. We stay nimble and if we’re not iterating and testing new things, we’re doing something wrong. Change is good and we are constantly questioning how we can be doing things better. Our goal is to build our team to be stronger and more highly skilled every quarter. I come from a long line of people and team management so building systems and leveraging diverse skillsets is a big priority.
7. What challenges do you face today?
Scaling our sales pipeline and adding new project management resources is our major focus right now. In order to take on more clients, you need project/product management resources to support them. In order to afford these critical resources, you need more sales. It’s the classic chicken or the egg dilemma and taking calculated risks is the only way to make progress. Right now, our core focus is sales and marketing while carefully expanding our project management team.
We’re actively building strategic partnerships with other agencies and complimentary service businesses. We’ve found these mutually beneficial partnerships to be some of the most effective ways to facilitate growth and deliver on client expectations. Referrals and strong business relationships are our number one priority and source of closed leads to date.
8. What do you think sets Modern Launch apart from other agencies?
Although we’re a services business, we take a startup approach to product development for our clients.
We’re a value first agency that focuses on client vision and success, not just building a product that looks good and works well. Honesty and integrity are critical in business relationships and we often work with teams and stakeholders that are not technical and need real feedback. Every project that we take on starts with truly understanding the company and the future goals. We’ve helped many clients strategize alternative and creative approaches to tackling product development in a way that makes sense for them.
Oftentimes, we help clients save money, time, and valuable resources by focusing on the things that matter most for the business. There are too many dev shops out there that don’t understand startups and entrepreneurship and will simply build without asking the right questions. That’s just not who we are. There’s a base level of business acumen that needs to come with software development for startups and high-growth companies.
9. What do you hope your business looks like in 3 years?
Our goal is to build a mature enough sales pipeline and operational structure to scale our team internally, growing the business tenfold. Ryan and I want Modern Launch to be a company that makes a difference for startups and high-growth companies and builds careers for people who share our mindset.
We’re both extroverts in the product development space so we obviously crave a community of professionals to help us achieve our goals.
Technology is our passion and we’re excited to take on new impactful projects with our growing team.
10. What are 3 things you would tell a developer who is thinking of starting a software agency?
- Tell everyone you know what you’re planning to do well before you do it. This helps to create external pressure to help guide you through your timeline and achieve what you set out to do. You don’t want to let yourself and all those people down do you? More importantly, doing this spreads the good word before you officially start. Personal connections are the most important thing to starting a new services business. It’s all about who you know (and who they know).
- Business acumen is critical. Hang out where entrepreneurs and business owners hang out. Learn from people who are better than you and keep these relationships. Know what you don’t know and focus on these gaps as early on as possible. You don’t have to be an expert in everything but you do need to be a jack of all trades in order to run a successful services business, especially at the start.
- Sales, sales, sales. Selling is everything. I’m not talking sleazy car salesman tactics, I’m talking about building real strategic relationships, communication skills, and showcasing your expertise by putting the focus on your clients. Learning how to sell is the single most important skill I think every person in any career should actively work on. Word of mouth and referral business still come from “selling” in one way or another. Demonstrating your value is selling and this is the core to a services business.