Our story (and welcome)

Karen ClarkStart HereLeave a Comment

Welcome to the Great Products Consulting blog! This blog will look at topics related to all aspects of conceiving, building and launching web or mobile apps. This will mostly relate to the process of doing so – but also other topics around starting and running a business in general. With a background in product management and software development, I want to use this blog to share some of my knowledge, skills and experiences around building and launching apps.

I thought I’d kick off this blog by starting at the beginning and telling you how GPC came about, so that you get to know a little bit more about me and get an understanding for why I’m so passionate about this topic.

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I became involved in software development after graduating university with a business degree in Canada almost 20 years ago. After a few years in Toronto, I moved to Europe and helped clients around the continent build and setup software applications. I arrived in Australia over ten years ago and began working on various projects in the Asia Pacific region before getting into product management. Product management was a revelation – because for the first time, I got to decide what to build – as opposed to software development, where you build what someone else wants!

I’ve been around the world working on software projects – but the most important thing to note is that I’ve done all of this without knowing how to code. I haven’t coded a single line of code for a software application in my entire career – which means you can do it too!

At the end of 2015, my corporate job was made redundant just before I went on maternity leave. The product management department – previously scattered across the globe – was centralising in the UK. With the time differences between the UK and Sydney, I knew that staying in the role would become problematic with a new child, so I saw this as an opportunity to focus fully on the challenge of motherhood. And what a challenge it was!

With my first career “break” in over ten years, I was determined to make sure that my next role was something that I would look forward to going to everyday. I started looking for work towards the end of 2016 – but I didn’t find any roles that excited me. Then, a series of events kicked-off that culminated in where I am today…

First, I offered my services to Gift-It-Forward, a startup in Singapore with a platform that offers gift fund functionality with a charitable twist. I had previously helped with testing their Beta version and I went on to define requirements for some new functionality. The founder had no technical background and it got me thinking that I took for granted all of the things that I know and the experience that I have. I just assumed that everyone knew how software was built – in the same way that everyone knew how to walk!

Around the same time, I also started volunteering with the Canadian Australia Chamber of Commerce. As luck would have it, I got to attend an event at the tech accelerator, BlueChilli  – about Canadians starting up businesses in Australia. It was lucky, because that’s where I got to have my “aha” moment.

Two things happened at this event:

The first thing – I heard from one of the panelists, Sarah Mak, who was building an app called folktale that put professional filmmaking in the hands of phone owners so that they could tell their own brand stories. She described herself as an “accidental” entrepreneur because it was something that she hadn’t planned on doing. Sarah has a background in biology.

The second thing happened during the Q&A, when someone asked where you get ideas for a business from.  Luther Poier, CFO at BlueChilli, told the audience to look for problems to solve in the industries where they work.

From these two things, I had my epiphany:

1. There are a lot of people out there that build web and mobile apps that don’t have a technical background; and

2. My industry – software development – has lots of painful problems that I could try to solve for people that are not technical.

And so, Great Products Consulting was born.

Over several months, I went to different events and time after time, I heard about people building apps that had no technical experience. Many of them were on their second attempt. They’d spent lots of money on the first one and then they’d decided to throw it away. Too often, people had spent more time and more money than they’d planned to get the product that they wanted.

I despaired – because I wanted to have been in their ear to set them on the right track from the beginning. Building apps is a complex process – there are so many moving parts that people aren’t aware of – simply because they’ve never done it before. There had to be a way to support people through this.

I want to share what I know with everyone building a web platform or mobile app – so I can make a difference in the outcome of their projects. I want to give them the skills, tools and knowledge that they need to get their app developed. My goal is to help people complete their apps on-time, on-budget, and with the functionality that they requested. It’s a lofty goal given that studies have shown that only 16.2% of technology projects end up this way!*

There are no guarantees of people buying and using an app and creating a business from it (if there were, everyone would be doing it!) Starting a new business requires lots of different skill sets – and you can’t possibly be an expert in all of them. Building an app is a large part of creating that business and if I can help people to do that successfully, I’ll know that I’ve made a difference.

I’d love to hear your stories of why you’ve decided to build a web platform or mobile app. Please share in the comments below.

*Chaos, The Standish Group Report, 2014 

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