You could outsource your build…

As we start to bring founding customers on to watu we are having numerous conversations about the difference between out sourced build (when the customer partners with a web design agency to build an application) and buying a SAAS product such as watu.  Here’s the difference:

1.  Wiping the slate clean: Great product is achieved through a process of building, breaking down and building again.  It is an iterative, learning process that requires the validation, and often invalidation, of ideas in order to get to the very best conclusion.

This very process is incongruent to the business model of a web design agency.   By quoting a price for a product, they immediately restrict the trial and error options fundamentally needed to build the best solution.  Their quote, based on an allocation of time and resource, runs in to trouble if they find a problem.  Economically, they have to build a patch as a complete re-think and re-build just isn’t in the budget.

Product businesses such as watu have the luxury of complete focus on one product.  If we believe that there is a better way, our business model demands that we throw away and start again.  We’re only a success if we build the very best product.

2. Focus: When you outsource your build, you usually do so to an agency that counts you as one customer amongst many.  You get assigned a project leader, a set amount of coder and designer time.  After a couple of brainstorms and a functional spec, they go off and build.  You are one project in a long line of projects.

At watu, we’r building one product.  Every moment of every day is spent on this mission, to build the very greatest staffing application for our customers and their staff.  Every brainstorm, every learning, all our user generated feedback, our resource, energy and ambition is focussed on one product.

3. Specialism: Web design agencies are good at web design/application projects.  They know how to build and design good product.  To build GREAT product, they rely on the customer to not only understand the problem they are trying to solve, but to understand the process and be able to easily work alongside the dev team to execute on the idea.  Not easy.

At watu, our team consists of hugely talented developers (our Co-Founder started coding at 7 years old and worked at Google before joining watu) and a CEO who owned a multi-national temporary staffing business, as well as a permanent recruitment company.  Together, they have insight and knowledge across the entire spectrum, from product vision through to awesome execution.

4. The very best coders tend to work at start ups: So there may be a few that don’t, but in the vast majority, the very best coders work in start up land.  Why? Because start up land is about invention and it requires the very best.  Invention requires huge leaps of faith, awesome processing power to visualise and execute on the path to success, exciting exposure to risk and for the few who make it, glory.  Where would you rather work?

5. Two scenarios:

a. You outsource a build and have delivered, a few months later, your £20,000 application.  It requires maintenance and constant iterations to get it where you wanted it to be, purely because you realise as you start to use it, what works and what doesn’t.  The product ages over time and becomes a frankenstein patchwork of add ons.  Technology continues to move forward, but your product stands still.

b. You pay a monthly subscription fee to a cloud hosted application.  The company who build the application spend every waking moment improving the product to the benefit of it’s users.  The technology stays current, the application becomes greater every day, and your monthly fee stays the same.  Two years from now, watu will have had over £500,000 of resource application applied to it and will still only cost a small monthly subscription fee.

You could outsource your build, but why would you?

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