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Born to be Wired – A week in the life of a software startup

Bret Conkin is the CMO for FundRazr. Christian Sander is the CTO. This post is a diary of a week’s interaction in a small, fast-growing startup to illustrate the contacts, challenges and flow between Marketing & IT. (Apologies to Steppenwolf). Learn how effective CTO/CMO collaborations gets results.

Monday – Get your Motor Runnin’

10:00 am – Java in tow, I head to our 10:10 am Monday morning huddle. The Boardroom is a mix of 17 seated and standing team members at different stages of caffeination. The huddle goal? A quick check-in on: 1) What you got done last week, 2) What you will work on this week, and 3) Blocks standing in your way.

Christian provides a quick overview and status of our upcoming release that will add new features for partners embedding our crowdfunding technology on their sites. The release is on track for Thursday and I make notes to keep our partners informed of timing. My turn and I share good customer news and convey the current block on transactional email upgrades. The Dev team points to next week given priorities that are marked on a White Board in the Boardroom for visibility.

The huddle is a quick 30-minute pulse that sets up the week and keeps our team apprised of priorities, milestones and news. At 10:40 am, everyone breaks feeling informed and wired for a productive week.

1:00 pm – Marketing meet-up where we review team priorities on a whiteboard in their area. Low tech + Hi tech. A/B testing results, PPC campaign adjustments, PR results and content plans among the topics. Basecamp is used for project management but we’ve found that visible notes really enhance communication lines both intra and across departments.

Tuesday – Head out on the (Information) Highway

10:30 am – The team is head down and hard at it. My day and Christian’s are both a combination of MBWA – Management by Walking Around – and our own project work. He codes. I make sales calls, review metrics and work up some content. If Christian has his headphones on I leave him be. He has his team follow a testing cycle that catches bugs, logs them in Jira and allows touch-ups prior to the release.

5:30 pm – I pop in at the end of the day and compare notes with Christian and we share a laugh to keep everyone loose. We love what we do.

Wednesday – Lookin’ for Adventure

Noon – Christian pops by to line up our discussion goals for our 1 pm session.

1:00 pm – Christian and I meet with the CTO of a partner to explore a huge new opportunity. Vision-time as we discuss the new feature set that would need to be built upon our API, competitive context, resource requirements and timeframes. The working session is a great opportunity for us to break out of our agile development focus and think futures. The discussion is lively, strategic and productive.

2:20 pm – Christian walks away with a better understanding of the market opportunity, customer pain and UX and functionality requirements. I walk away with a refined sense of the build required and a tactical approach I can take forward for prospect feedback and to manage expectations. Our partner leaves feeling informed, jazzed and looking forward to our next follow-up in a week. I post some notes in Lean Launch Lab – a tool we’re using for this project.

Thursday – In whatever comes my Way

10:00 am – Christian advises that the release may be pushed back until Friday. The Dev team works feverishly away to complete testing and bug fixes for the balance of the day. Software development, especially SaaS that integrates with the major social networks is challenging. Our CEO Daryl Hatton captures it well when he likens the challenge of staying current with Facebook, Twitter, G+ et al as “dancing on quicksand.” Confluence is used to collaborate on the work needing to get done.

2:00 pm – A much needed coffee call and various staffers across departments head down the street in Gastown to grab a coffee – it’s Vancouver after all so Wired has a double meaning – and kick back for a short while and compare notes. A great initiative of Christian’s, this coffee walk enables our departments and others to get to know each other in a relaxed way.

Friday – Yeah Darlin’ go make it happen

9:30 am – Software Release – We’re live at http://fundrazr.com and our partner hosted pages look fantastic. The Development team and Marketing spend some additional time checking out the UX and functionality for bugs or refinements. I review Christian’s release notes and ensure our customer communications plan is put into place for next week. As a major release, the Dev team is still all hands on deck making sure the new features work on all devices. Two to four week cycles create stress but constant innovation.

3:30 pm – Show & Tell – Our CEO recently introduced this Friday afternoon session – a hands-on demonstration of what’s new, cool or upcoming. Today, key findings on metrics are presented by our Conversion Analyst – great news on our new medical crowdfunding landing page – conversions up 20%. Our CEO shares exciting news from customer contacts on his trip that week to Silicon Valley. Christian demos some of the subtler features of the release and how we’ve achieved seamless co-branding for our partners. Everyone cracks a beer or glass of wine and contributes and enjoys the show.

4:45 pm – Most of the team heads home feeling good about our progress this week. Christian and our developers and QA will still have some final testing/refinement work that night when they get home. Making it happen takes talent and elbow grease.

How do you ensure strong communication lines and productivity between IT and Marketing at your company? What tools help? Please post in the comments.

 

Bret Conkin
Bret Conkinhttp://www.crowdfundsuite.com
Bret Conkin is the Chief Crowd Evangelist of CrowdfundSuite, an alternative finance consultancy and campaign manager. CrowdfundSuite has helped international developers; hedge funds, entrepreneurs, film producers and hardware companies raise over $40 million online. Bret is an ambassador for the National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada and regular blogger and speaker at industry events.

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