Katherine Frankowski

About Katherine Frankowski

Minneapolis-based nonfiction writer

Time to Grow: A Workshop on How to Scale Digital Products

You’ve built your initial app or web solution. You even have some customers. But now you need to take it to the next level and scale. Where do you begin?

On Wednesday, June 26, 2019, we’re hosting an intimate, 90-minute workshop that will offer hands-on business mentorship to qualified attendees who are ready to learn how to scale their digital products. Interested? The application deadline is Wednesday, June 19, 2019. Apply today!


The Workshop

During this intimate, 90-minute workshop, attendees will learn how to:

  • Scale products efficiently and boost returns
  • Locate their company’s position on the startup growth curve
  • Identify the key metrics needed to track success
  • Clarify actionable next steps

 

The Details

  • Wednesday, June 26, 2019
  • 11:30am to  1:00pm
  • Fueled Collective in NE Minneapolis
  • Hosted by Brian Krohn
  • Lunch will be provided

 

Who It’s For

This event is for business owners, dreamers, developers and product owners who are ready to apply lean methodologies to scale and grow their companies.

 

How to Apply

Because we aim to provide truly tailored and useful mentorship, we are limiting this event to just five qualified attendees. The application deadline is Wednesday, June 19, 2019. Apply today!

 

Questions?

Contact brian@modernlogic.io

 

By |2019-06-20T09:55:07-06:00June 7th, 2019|Development, Strategy|0 Comments

What Agencies Get Wrong: A Conversation with Modern Logic CEO Dustin Bruzenak

Dustin Bruzenak has been in software development for 20 years. He’s worked at Adobe as a senior engineer, served major banks as a contract developer, and bootstrapped and sold an app-based company. However, for the past seven years, he’s been on the agency side of the industry, a side he finds distinctly troubling. “When I switched to the agency model,” he says, “I started to see how messed up software development could be.”

In a recent conversation, Dustin candidly elaborated on the shortcomings he’s witnessed in agency-based software development. Some of his insights stem from mistakes that he has made along the way as an agency leader; others are based on his observations on how other agencies operate. Source aside, here are five key takeaways from our conversation.

 

1. Dishonesty Regarding Costs

Most of the clients who approach digital product agencies are not experienced in software development; they don’t know what it takes to build a digital product, which is precisely why they seek out an agency’s support. Unfortunately, says Dustin, many of the agency experts they turn to dish out highly inaccurate estimates.

“The agency leaders want the work, and they feel they won’t get the work if they say what it will really cost,” he says. “So, they say the number that they think the client will go for.”

How far off are these estimates? Dustin says the differential can be astounding. “It’s like saying you can build a skyscraper for $100k,” he says. “Agencies put out low bids and get the work, but they put themselves in a position where their only option to get out of it alive financially is to cut corners.”

Not surprisingly, when agencies cut corners, they deliver insufficient products. In fact, many of the clients Modern Logic serves today have had this very experience. “We inherit a lot of work from other agencies,” says Dustin. “These agencies started out with good intentions, but they weren’t being honest about what it takes to build software.”

 

2. Skipping Strategy & Research

Dustin says that agencies operating on unrealistically low budgets cannot provide clients with strategic or research-based support. For example, an agency operating off of a thin contract won’t help clients firm up the business case behind a product, nor will they research competitor offerings or alternative technologies. It’s not that the agencies are lazy; it’s that they are trying to stay in the black.

“Agencies today are competing on price, and they don’t feel they can be competitive if they charge for things like strategic work,” he says. “Some say they’ll get involved with strategy, but because they end up eating the costs if they do, it limits the time they can realistically put into it.”

It’s a situation that ends up hurting clients the most, says Dustin. “Agencies build a lot of products,” he says. “That depth of experience makes them one of the client’s best sources for strategic information. But if clients can’t leverage that information, if the agency’s experience and wisdom can’t be applied before code is written, clients miss out and spend more.”

 

3. Building Too Much

Though Dustin is passionate about bringing agency issues to light, he acknowledges that some of the software industry’s problems occur both inside and outside of agencies. One such issue is the propensity to overbuild—to build digital products with far more features than are actually necessary.

“The average app has 20 features,” Dustin says, “but the average user will only use two or three of them. About 80 percent of the features built in applications aren’t used.”

How does this happen? Dustin says that when products are overbuilt in the agency model, it often stems from the agency’s inclination to both appease clients and work from very specific contracts. “Clients naturally want everything,” he says, “and agencies want hyper-specific contracts so that when the scope of the project changes down the road, which it will, they can charge for those changes and cover their costs.”

The combined effect, says Dustin, is that clients end up providing expansive wish lists early on with all the features they want, and then the agency goes out and builds exactly what is on that list—even if many of the features are frivolous.

 

4. Engaging End Users Too Late

One way to combat the overbuilding problem in digital product development, says Dustin, is to incorporate user testing early in the process. In other words, getting a minimal version of a product in the hands of users early and often helps agencies and clients learn which features should be invested in and which should not. Unfortunately, agencies have been slow to adopt user testing, Dustin says, in part because clients are often skeptical of the process.

“Clients hesitate when it comes to early testing,” he says.  “They don’t want to reveal their ideas too early. They’re afraid a competitor will hear about it and jump out in front. They also feel like they already know what their end users need, so why should they pay for testing?”

Despite these client objections, Dustin believes in user testing’s value in software development. He says that, although user testing can be harder to sell to clients than, say, an additional feature, it ends up saving them a great deal of money in the long run. “Our job is to help clients be successful,” he says, “and to be successful, they have to invest in solutions to problems that users actually have.”

 

5. Taking Orders Instead of Asking Why

Just as overbuilding plagues software development inside and outside of agencies, so too does the strange belief that developers should be told what to build, not why.

“I’ve been on dozens of projects over the years,” says Dustin, “where no one could tell me why we were building what we were being told to build. I’d ask, then someone would tell me to ‘just go build it.’”

Unfortunately, this “just go build it” mentality is common in today’s digital product agencies, says Dustin, in part because “the agency doesn’t need to know the business case behind a product in order to bill hundreds of hours for its development.”

But when agencies don’t understand the why behind a product, they cannot do their best work, says Dustin. “If you don’t understand why you’re building what you’re building, you can’t apply your understanding of technology to the real business need behind the product, the real problem that needs solving,” he says. “If you don’t see the big picture, your hands are tied.”

By |2019-08-05T10:15:34-06:00June 6th, 2019|Development, Strategy|0 Comments

Learn How to Use In-App Analytics at Minnebar!

You know the data derived from in-app analytics programs can help you make better business decisions. But how do you go about securing and interpreting that data?

Join us on Saturday, April 27, 2019, at the Best Buy Headquarters in South Richfield, MN, for a rapid, 50-minute session on how CEOs and start-ups can begin using in-app analytics to make better business decisions. Sign up for “App Analytics for CEOs & Start-Ups” here.

You’ll leave this highly participatory session with:

  • Samples of effective business experiments using analytics
  • Examples of how in-app analytics enhance product decisions
  • Strategies for choosing an in-app analytics solution
  • Familiarity with the power of AWS for analytics

This session will be facilitated by our own Andrew Rahn. Andy is a developer with experience in a wide variety of platforms and languages. He is fearless when it comes to exploring new technologies. In the past few years, he’s been an avid user of the programming languages Swift 4, Kotlin and Typescript. He’s also a big data nerd who thrives on AWS technologies such as Athena, Pinpoint and Firehose. Andy lives in Minneapolis. He loves dogs and plays the oboe.

A user-generated, participant-led conference, Minnebar is one of our favorite tech events of the year. We hope to see you there! And please check out the other session we’ll be hosting: Your First Lean Step: How to Create a Lean Canvas.

 

By |2019-04-05T09:30:17-06:00April 4th, 2019|Analytics, Minnesota Technology|0 Comments

Learn How to Create a Lean Canvas at Minnebar!

You know lean startup methodologies help businesses rapidly and efficiently validate new ideas, reducing risks and costs. But do you know how to start running lean?

Join us on Saturday, April 27, 2019, at the Best Buy Headquarters in South Richfield, MN, for a rapid, 50-minute session on how to create a Lean Canvas, the foundational document of lean organizations. Sign up for “Your First Lean Step: How to Create a Lean Canvas” here.

You’ll leave this highly participatory session with:

• a concise visualization of your business or product

• an articulated Unique Value Proposition

• a clear and testable business plan

• next steps to validate your business or product

This session will be facilitated by our own Brian Krohn, PhD, an inventor and entrepreneur whose lean startup experience spans the renewable energy, medical device, and mobile application development industries. This event will help anyone who is ready to apply lean methodologies to their ideas.

A user-generated, participant-led conference, Minnebar is one of our favorite events of the year. We hope to see you there! And please check out the other session we’ll be hosting: App Analytics for CEOs & Start-Ups.

 

By |2019-04-05T09:29:56-06:00April 4th, 2019|Minnesota Technology|0 Comments