Case Study - Svetlana Gladkova, Profy

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Development is your focus until your product is perfect.

As a marketing person I used to think that success of any project depends mainly on marketing, publicity, and public relations. Now I know that no PR can actually make any project a success. Now I know that when you prepare to launch a web product, almost everything depends on the development process and this is what any web entrepreneur should focus on. You can believe your over-optimistic team and expect the development to be completed in 6 months (and have the development budget for this period as well) and you can easily end up with over a year in development.

Such situations can easily crash even the best of ideas so it is extremely important to have a good architect to plan the development process and set deadlines. And even if you are 100% sure in how your team will perform and know that your product will not have any single bug, it is still wise to add a couple of months to your plan to be absolutely sure you have at least some time allowance to have the product ready.

You Are the Leader, Your Enthusiasm is Crucial

Another thing that is crucial about development is that you need to motivate your people if you want to ever launch your product. Work hard and show your team your own passion for the product, the idea, and your common goal. You are the only person that can transfuse your own enthusiasm into your team and normally your personal example is the only thing that actually helps you reach this goal. So never allow yourself to sound pessimistic or to show your fatigue – you are the one to take those guys ahead and if you do not have enthusiasm, no one will. And the team that only comes to the office to stare at their displays in hope that as soon as you leave the office for a meeting they will be able to indulge in social networking, games, or any not job-related activities, will never finish development of the dream project you have in mind.

Building Your Professional Network and Contacts

A unique situation about Profy is that when we launched Profy alpha, we already had a known brand for Profy and a rather successful and popular blog running on Profy for over a year by then. The thing is that we realized that for a Russian team without any proper connections it would

not be realistic to expect any successful launch at all for the platform. So we decided that we had enough time ahead to get to know all the people we needed and to build a brand – and the obvious way to achieve this goal would be to start a blog. That’s what we did and it proved that even without relevant experience or proper knowledge it really can be successful and a blog with a good reputation can help you immensely to launch your product – but it is worth noting that building such a blog is a great challenge because competition is very high and making people notice your voice can be extremely difficult.

Launching a blog is not the only way you or your marketing person can do your homework to prepare for the product launch – there are various ways you can make the product known and get the connections you need (social networking and heavy twittering are the most obvious ones) but having a blog that has a good reputation in the professional circles you are targeted at can make your launch much more successful than even hiring a specialized PR agency.

When You Can Not Control Something, at Least Try to Choose the Best Service Provider

Remember that there are always things that you can never predict or even control personally. For example, when your hosting company is not the perfect one and your site experiences a lengthy downtime, you will have to stare at the 404 error in dismay without being able to do a single thing. And here you will need to learn one thing: patience. Yes, you can bug the support every 5 minutes. Sure, you can give them phone calls every 30 minutes. And obviously, you can try to reach the CEO to yell at him about your frustration. But does that really help? It proves that no, it does not. So if they take unreasonably long to fix the problem (and you are sure all the right people are aware that the problem exists and the problem is actually being fixed), your yelling and bugging will hardly help. So after such an event you can either hope that they have learned the lesson well and next time they will fix any problem better and faster, or you can start researching for a better hosting company. Just do not forget to do your research better next time and get all the feedback about customer service and support next time.

If you are a startup, you will most probably need to outsource various services (not to mention the obvious example with hosting), like bookkeeping, legal support, recruitment and even marketing/PR – simply because it is unreasonable to hire an accountant, for example, if you have a team of 10 coders. And it is absolutely crucial to make extensive research before you choose the service provider. You will never be able to control all the procedures in your contractor’s company and if you do not want to switch from one service provider to another every few months, do your homework well – ask people for recommendations (asking your LinkedIn network for advice has proven to be a good way to find just the right providers – the only condition is that you have the relevant people working in the same industry in your network), do the basic research for references and feedback on the company you want to contract, ask the contractor multiple questions that can prove the professionalism. When you can not control something, make sure this is at least the best service available.

So these are some points that are very important to me and that I have learned the hard way at Profy. I know there are tons of things to learn ahead as we move on with the project, but my personal experience with these issues makes me want to share them with others – hopefully someone will find these tips useful.

Next: So, You Have An Idea?

3 Responses to 'Case Study - Svetlana Gladkova, Profy'

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  1. Good content, I will be back to read more


    15 May 09 at 5:33 am

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