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Advancements in technology have driven business into directions we never would have fathomed even as little as five years ago. Now the competition for the most user-friendly website or the most engaging app is so cutthroat that many corporations are turning to small agencies to help them build the best.

I spoke to Scott Weisman of LaunchPad Lab and he told me how his company is helping Big Business by taking them back to the startup mentality.

What is LaunchPad Lab?

LaunchPad Lab is a web development studio in Chicago. My partners, Tom Cullen, Brendan Hennessy and I started LaunchPad in 2012. We build web applications for businesses and startups.

We bring a startup mindset to established businesses. We encourage businesses to start small, release early and iterate often. We have refined this process and it has proved highly successful. We can often build the first version in a few weeks where most business software takes years to build. This allows our clients to get to profitability faster and that’s what it’s all about.

We love working with Ruby on Rails, Javascript, HTML5 and CSS3 so those are the main technologies we use to build apps for our clients. Businesses using open-source software like these have a huge competitive advantage.

 

 

What was the inspiration?

The three of us each attended Starter League. We all wanted to create better software for businesses. Fortunately, we each had clients coming to us individually asking for development work. We put our resources together and started building projects under LaunchPad Lab.

Who is your primary audience?

Businesses willing to explore a new way of getting things done and increasing revenue.

How has business been doing since you started?

Business has been great! There’s obviously a ton of growth right now in businesses and individuals looking to build apps. We’re completely bootstrapped and have continued to be able to grow the business without taking on debt.

 

 

What has your biggest failure been with LaunchPad Lab?

Not charging enough. When we were starting out we quoted projects too low. If you don’t charge enough as a developer, you’re cheating yourself and your client because it doesn’t let you put the resources that you’d like to into the project.

What has your biggest success been?

Our success comes through our clients’ successes. We developed software for Chesapeake Energy that’s helped them distribute important safety information to workers on oilrigs around the country. We helped a local beverage company, Greater Than, rebrand itself by developing a one-of-a-kind website that lets the company’s fun personality show through.

We also recently helped the band Hanson rebuild their website. Right now we are working on a web based trading application for a trading firm and can’t wait to see their success.

What about your service is unique that your competitors can't offer?

We bring a startup mentality to businesses. This means that our clients are typically able to release projects much faster, learn about their users, and iterate.

We have a lot of experience building and refining applications and we’ve found that an agile process like this works really well for all types of businesses.

What advice would you give entrepreneurs just starting out?

Start by building something small and release it as soon as possible. Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking that the initial build is all they need and then customers will come. They soon learn that sales is much more difficult than they imagined.

Whatever assumptions you have about your customers are probably wrong, so get your product out there and let customers use it and give you feedback. Then you can iterate and make the product better. Successful companies don’t necessarily start with the best products, but they’ve figured out how to create a quick feedback loop and make the product better over time.

Look at early versions of Twitter, Facebook, and Android for examples. Most tech entrepreneurs today would never release the first version that Twitter released, so they’re missing out on valuable feedback.

 

 

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