As startup culture grows, development shops are popping up all over the country. Each one typically provides web and/or mobile development for early stage startups, either for cash or equity.
Nashville-based Centresource, though, isn’t your typical dev shop. They do help with development, but they also pitch in at every stage of the process and take on every role there is: marketing, design, product development, and more.
Founded by Populr’s Nicholas Holland in 2004, Centresource initially worked with full grown companies, but branched out to include startups in 2012. Check out our Q&A is Centresource’s Chad Hazlehurst below.
What is Centresource?
Centresource is one of the leading web and mobile product development shops in the Southeast. We have been in the interactive space for 10 years building best-in-class user experiences, developing break-out products, and creating go-to-market strategies to drive adoption.
What do you do for startups?
In 2012, Centresource made the decision to form a separate business unit specifically dedicated to startups. We custom-tailor our solutions based on the challenge, but there are a few key ways we work with startup companies:
1. PRODUCT PLANNING/USER EXPERIENCE
One of the biggest challenges for early stage startups is proving demand for their product. Many of our early-stage clients struggle to show the value of their idea to investors or potential customers. They go to meetings with sketches on napkins and unproven concepts. Investors and customers are asking for something more than an idea – they want to see and touch the product.
Even more importantly, one of the biggest mistakes early stage startups can make is building features users don’t need. Startups need a tool to validate their assumptions.
To address both issues, we have developed a simple, effective process for creating high-fidelity clickable prototypes. We walk the startup through product planning, taking them through all the decision-making that would go into the MVP, then we deliver a prototype that can be demonstrated to users and investors.
Our clients are using the prototypes to pre-sell, for user testing, and to secure investment. Starting with a prototype allows us to take user and investor feedback, easily and quickly pivot if necessary, and then build out the application once more is known about demand. Getting a product in front of users and getting feedback before making large investments can help mitigate risk and avoid costly mistakes.
2. TECH TALENT
Tech talent is hard to find and hard to manage. Some startups have a team of coders, but they need help making business-critical technology decisions. Other clients have an advisor or CTO, but need a team to implement. We can help in both cases.
Some of our most successful projects have involved taking a product from conception to to the point where the startup is revenue-positive and ready to hire their own team (we are now helping them hire). In 2 or 3 years of working with Centresource, the startup has invested a fraction of one developer’s salary. And we’ve played all positions on the team: product strategy, design, front-end, and back-end development.
When a startup’s sole developer is poached or moves on (which happens), the company is put in a serious bind. We have been able to help by providing developers to hit timelines and milestones. This can be critical when speed to market is a factor, or when investor expectations are in play.
Some of our clients have a product ready to ship, but they need help driving adoption. In this case, we engage our incredible Go to Market team. Introducing a new product is a completely different challenge than marketing an existing brand. We are employing innovative, smart strategies to help startups identify early adopters and connect with them. The team essentially becomes a snap-on marketing department.
How is your approach different from other agencies?
We’ve positioned ourselves to be able to help at any stage of the startup’s process. Through a custom strategic approach we are going to build what is needed to achieve the next goal. Sometimes clients and agencies get caught up in the big picture, and miss the steps along the way. Clients hire us because we are fast, reliable, and have deep expertise in product development. They trust us because we understand the challenges unique to startups. For us, success is when our clients succeed.
What’s your favorite thing about working with startups?
The passion and determination to change the world and succeed in a brutal, ever changing market.
Where do you see the Nashville tech scene going in the next couple of years?
Nashville is blowing up. This city has momentum and we do not see it stopping any time soon. We feel the Nashville tech scene is on the verge of a huge breakout success. One thing that makes Nashville different is our great sense of community. Everyone here is ready to help and give an attentive ear. We love being a part of this community and helping in any way we can.
How can startups that are interested get in touch with you?