This inspiring story is of a rising startup called Aloa, started by David Pawlan. Aloa is a platform for outsourcing software development for startups. At Aloa they believe in a world where anyone can innovate freely. Today, they see software as a barrier to innovation for startups, non-technical founders, and those without an abundance of capital. Through their service, managing a software development relationship is as easy as editing a Google doc. Running a business is hard. Software development shouldn’t be. Here is the story of Aloa in David’s own words.
Introduce us to the idea of Aloa
We’ve approached this space slightly differently, through a three pronged approach: Aloa Partner Network, Platform, Strategist.
We’ve vetted thousands of firms around the world, qualifying them on a handful of characteristics. So far, we’ve only qualified 11 firms to be within our network, and those are our trusted Partners. Our firms are located in India, Ukraine, Moldova, Slovakia, and Colombia.
The second part is making sure that you have a way of properly communicating with the firm you’re working with. We tried using every tool out there. Each one lacked accountability and simplicity, so we built Aloa Manage to ensure that anyone, even non-technical, can efficiently manage their software development relationship. To navigate the pain points of invoicing and overseas payments, we built out Aloa Pay, so our clients pay us, and we handle the foreign exchange for them.
Humanity is always key. A dedicated Strategist based in the US will work with each client to understand their needs, match them to the right team, and serve as an account manager throughout the relationship. Furthermore, each Strategist will perform audits based on each client’s curated development strategies. Essentially, we perform continuous vetting to ensure quality for our clients.
What’s your strategy story? What led you to start Aloa?
Starting in college, we were a group of students just building out apps and doing tech consulting ourselves, and after some time, we decided to expand our team. We looked domestically, but it was too expensive. We looked overseas, and every one said to avoid it because of all the horror stories. To us, that didn’t make sense. Why have we, being a society, figured out how to work with every other industry overseas, yet we haven’t been able to figure out a predictable and consistent experience for outsourcing software. Arguably the most digital/remote industry itself is the one we struggle with the most.
This really opened our eyes. If a group of technical individuals (us) was having trouble building a development team, no way could a non-technical person do this. Not only did we realize that there was a massive opportunity to disrupt this space, but we recognized the barriers to innovation that software is creating due to its complexity.
So, rather than focusing on simply a solution, we studied and researched the pain points themselves that individuals experience and built out from there. If we can make software outsourcing painless and predictable, then we are doing our part to further innovation.
What marketing, operation strategies are you adopting at Aloa?
We are fairly cost-conscious as we are a lean team. When it comes to marketing, we are really pushing forward with content creation. We release a blog article at least once per week and are tweeting different startup hacks every day. Our priority is to build ourselves as an authoritative source for our space. If we can do that, then we further establish our presence and credibility. As a team, we each have different metrics we have to hit when producing content.
We also do paid media advertising.
In terms of our operational strategy, we have split our team into two: Product and Sales. Half of our team is focused on Product, actually building our proprietary management tool and payment platform (Aloa Manage and Aloa Pay). Our in-house Product team also helps to serve our clients by overseeing our Audit process for active clients (continuous vetting of quality for each client engagement) and serving as a Tech Lead should we need any immediate technical assistance.
Sales are, of course, focused on sales! It is the role of each Strategist to serve our clients the best we can. So, Strategists are responsible for maintaining existing client relationships, building new relationships, as well as identifying further lead generation.
It is important to us to make sure we clearly separate the two, so we can all be focused on what needs our attention most. To fulfill that focused commitment, our COO is responsible for bridging the gap.
Any strategy mistakes you have made and what did you learn?
YES! Of course there have been tons of mistakes that we have made; starting a business is not easy, especially when starting in college.
The reason we are structured operational as we are (Product and Sales) is because of the inefficiencies we saw.
If you are on the Product team, you don’t need to be emotionally bogged down by, let’s say, a client dispute. Or, on the flip side, if you are on Sales, you don’t need to be emotionally bogged down by the roadblocks that the Product is facing in development.
It is about making sure that everyone is receiving the information they NEED to know, and shielding them from everything else. The point isn’t to be secretive, it is to be efficient. Running a business is really hard, and while it feels like you need to be a part of each piece of the business, you really don’t. Worrying yourself about details that aren’t relevant to your day-to-day will just increase fatigue and decrease productivity.
Finally what advice do you have for your fellow entrepreneur readers?
Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.
I work with tons of startups, and the ones I’ve seen succeed are the ones who are in love with the problem, and not the solution. If you are in love with the problem, then any failure is just another way that didn’t work; it’s the whole Thomas Edison phenomenon. He didn’t fail 10,000 times, he just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work. The same principle holds true – founders that seek to learn are ones that succeed. If you haven’t yet, reframe your perspective to fall in love with the problem itself that you are trying to solve, not your current solution.
Disclaimer: The information in the above story is provided by the startup and The Strategy Story takes no responsibility for the authenticity of the product and services offered by the startup. Reader’s discretion is advised.
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