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At Sparkmate we focus on delivering fast, comprehensive engineering services, with an emphasis on giving our clients functional prototypes in a matter of weeks. We know that velocity is the main key to success for young companies. And though it might take several iterations to have a robust version of a product ready to scale, it is generally possible to get a first operational version in no more than 1 week.
So we sometimes meet clients, generally entrepreneurs already familiar with the concept of prototyping a product and bootstrapping their business, that come to us for ultra fast prototyping. They’re starting to gain traction on the market or they have key stakeholders or customers to convince. They need an elegant and operational solution in DAYS, not weeks.
That's where most engineering / IT firms, design studios or agencies would propose a non-functional prototype like a UX/UI clickable prototype for apps or a 3D realistic rendering for physical products. This might work to win a startup pitch contest but it usually doesn’t win clients. And what matters in the end is clients.
Entrepreneurs bootstrapping their business know that you need time, energy, passion, and hard work to build the right product. It can be terribly frustrating when you don't have the tech and hard skills necessary to do so. For simple digital products, no-code tools are great for 80% of the job. But as soon as you need to build something that is not fully satisfied by the tool, you have to start again because no-code tools rarely integrate with most engineering infrastructures.
And let me reassure you, even when you have hard skills, it's not easy to go from 0 to 1 in one week. At Sparkmate, we call it a rush, distinguishing between a “rush” and the “sprints” of an agile method:
A rush is a single period, and that changes everything.
A rush is a mindset, it imposes a certain pace, it imposes the need for momentum that will keep you going. In order to have a successful rush, you should focus on keeping that fire going, avoiding everything that slows you down, that breaks the rhythm and that might end up stopping you.
Therefore a successful rush needs to met the following requirements:
At Sparkmate, we always share those principles very clearly with our clients, in order to avoid any misunderstandings.
The momentum of your project is the impetus gained as your project moves forward. So the answer is pretty straightforward here: never stop moving forward. Easy, right?
Let’s deep dive into some details. What you want to foster is this impetus, the energy with which a body moves, and this energy comes from you. That’s why we said earlier that a rush is about mindset and that’s why the requirements described above are so important. Of course, good tools and methods can help but the only critical success factor is your determination and your perspicacity.
The trick here is to not let yourself go backwards, which sounds easy but can be actually quite difficult in practice. There are a lot of ways of “going backwards” and that’s why after each rush we recommend that you take some time and ask yourself if things went wrong, where, and how that could have been avoided.
However here are a few rules that we at Sparkmate try to follow when we have to bootstrap a prototype in one week:
A rush is something that can be really exciting, but nothing is worse than doing a rush on a project that should have been developed in a more standard way. Also be aware of how a rush wears you down - we wouldn’t recommend executing several rushes in a row.
If you’re into exercise, you know that it’s important to alternate fast-paced and slow-paced periods. The same rule applies to product development. You cannot spend 6 months doing rushes.
And bear in mind that the definition and the methodology of a rush is very personal. What works for me and for us might not necessarily be the best for you. Building a project in a week does not give you the time to take a step back, technically, sure, but also personally, for example regarding how you manage pressure or productivity. Take some time as soon as possible after the end of a rush to improve your methodology.