I ♥️ Startups
I love working with passionate founders to see their vision come to reality.
I come from a technology background as a Software Developer and Designer, but I took the role of CTO and Product Manager in my last startup.
Building a startup was hard. There's a lot to learn.
There's no doubt that I made mistakes as a founder. I have some hard-earned lessons in investment raising, team building, software building, and sales and marketing that I pass on to my clients.
In short, I have learned where I should have focused my time as I tried to figure out how to turn an idea into reality.
In the early stages of any business, there is always uncertainty. How will the business model work? How will the software work?
The focus at the early stage should be on defining the problem, the customer jobs you need to solve for. Get customer feedback, it removes uncertainty.
From talking with founders, this has been the hardest part for them. How do you test your idea? How do you validate a customer need without spending a fortune on software?
From experience, I can say that this is also true if you've been in an industry a long time. An informed idea is still just an idea. It needs testing.
I've been using tools like Jobs-To-Be-Done which made it much easier to define customer needs in the problem space.
Once your customer needs has been defined, now it's time to focus on building a solution to meet that need.
The first step is to build an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). Most businesses think that the first solution idea is the best one. This is rarely the case.
Most winning solutions are arrived at after numerous iterations, small tweaks, identifying strong and weak parts to solutions and adapting. So you must learn to iterate. Build small. Learn. Build more.
Agile software methodology was created to help iterate quickly on software solutions. But proper agile is hard to do well. Again, I learned this the hard way.
My Own Startup Experience
The biggest reason startups fail is because they run out of cash. Even though I knew this, my first startup failed because we too ran out of money.
It is easy to know where we went wrong in hindsight, but if I was starting with that business again, I would have made sure we properly framed and prioritised customer needs before we built our solution.
We found Daragh online through Linkedin, and from the first communication to the last, it has been a really good decision.
We hired him to consult on our new fintech startup, because of his previous experience in startup land - raising funding, building an MVP and receiving funding from Enterprise Ireland.
His lean and agile approach to our startup, really helped us to formulate the best way to get our MVP built using existing technologies in the quickest possible time. His no nonsense approach to our project, and his ability to quickly understand new concepts, made him very easy to work with. It turned out that he built our MVP product too, which was a great outcome from our strategy day.
I would have no hesitation recommending Daragh for project consultation roles, if you need help to critically analyse your startup idea, and figure out processes and workflows.
Ruairi Gough, CEO Paytient Payments
Lean Startup Business Validation (Feasibility)
early stage founder lean startup
Why do I need this?
No more guessing what you need to do as your first step. I will take you through the process defining your problem, right through to solution ideation and commercial viability.
I'll help you ask the right questions, and leave you with homework to do. We will talk regularly so that you can stay on track and help you with any issues as they arise.
By the end of the process, you will:
- know who you're ideal customer is
- know where to reach them
- have a defined map of their needs
- have a strong solution concept to solve for those needs
- have some business model and pricing questions answered
Modelling for Software Development (Planning)
software planning software development communication requirements
Why do I need this?
You don't know how to go about writing out some requirements to get your software built.
You find speaking with developers difficult, as they don't seem to understand the business requirements you send to them.
You may have already tried to get some software built using an outsource team and it did not go to plan at all.
Modelling is an important step in communicating business requirements to development teams. It helps to build a shared understanding of what is required.
I run workshops using a technique called Event Storming to Model Business requirements.
By the end of it you will have:
- a visual representation of the Business Domain
- a blueprint for your software development
- a shared language and understanding between business and developers
- no more conflict between IT/Development and the rest of the business
Visit DDD Ireland to learn more (I am one of the founders).
Building Your MVP
software development lean startup roadmap
Why do I need this?
If you are not from the software world, it can be difficult to know how to spend your precious capital at the start.
I have seen many projects fail because they used the wrong technology, which made MVP stage more difficult, more expensive, or both.
I see many MVP projects much bigger and more costly than they need to be. Remember you are still figuring out unknowns at this stage.
A Minimum Viable Product, or MVP, should be built in small, incremental steps to get feedback and validate.
You shouldn't look to spend more than €3-8k on most MVP builds.
Short answer: it depends.
In some cases, I end up doing the development work through my company Round Robot.
In other cases, an in-house team or outsource team will be doing the work. I help with the planning and refinement, reducing the scope of the build to something that can validate the business concept.
In both cases, I will advise you on what technology makes sense to start with, what the progression should be, and how to architect and design for future changes.
If you need help finding an outsourcing company, I can also advise there having gone through the process before.
technical partner technical roadmap early stage
Why do I need this?
Most startups that do not have a technical founder, will find it difficult when they try to raise money through grants or seed investment.
When you apply for grants, or seek funding from investors, you will need to be able to answer questions on your technical roadmap and architecture.
If you have an MVP built, you will need to make sure it is live, backed up, and being monitored.
Without these things in place, your chances of securing funding or grant money are greatly reduced.
But it is hard to find a suitable technical co-founder.
I become an "Interim CTO" that manages the technology aspects of the business in the early stages.
I can help answer questions for grant applications and investors, and be listed on the "Team" slide for pitch decks.
I will continue to provide ongoing support as your business grows until you are in a position to hire fully for the position.
However, I don't just work with any company in this capacity, and I limit how many companies I work with at any given time.
Investment Deck Writing
investment introductions network
Why do I need this?
Raising money is difficult and time consuming. It can be difficult to get the attention of investors and VCs.
VCs and Investors receive a lot of business plans and investment documents. You need to make your unique value proposition stand out.
I have previously raised seed investment in Ireland, which included Enterprise Ireland, and wrote and designed all our Investment material.
- I work with you to write a 10-20 page Investment Memorandum.
- I will iterate on the content with you based on feedback from Investors.
- You will get a highly polished and visually well designed document to share with Investors.
- I can leverage my networks to try provide warm introductions for your document.
Schedule a Call
Each week I try to make time to talk with startup tech founders who aren't yet ready to become a client, but who would like to talk. I got a lot of time and advice from some generous people and I'd like to return the favour.
If you're a founder who would like an informal, no strings attached chat, schedule a call below.️ If you are in a timezone that doesn't suit the available times, email me and I'll see what I can do.