- Players: Lynette Hundermark and George Reed
- Company: Useful and Beautiful
- EST: 2014
- Contact: +27 (0)76 787 3310, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Visit: usefulandbeautiful.co.za
Do you want to play the volumes game or the quality game? For mobile guru Lynette Hundermark that was one of the most important decisions she made when she and business partner George Reed founded mobile solutions company Useful and Beautiful.
“There are so many generalists in the tech space, we decided to go the specialist route,” says Hundermark.
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“I am only confident selling what I believe in, and after 17 years in the industry, with six in mobile, bespoke mobile solutions is what we specialise in.”
As the former head of product strategy at digital agency Prezence Digital, Hundermark stresses that mobile is practical, not theoretical.
“There are functional but unattractive apps and mobi sites that have been hacked together by developers and there are those created by agencies which are great looking but lack functionality. Our mantra is to create mobile solutions that are both useful and beautiful.”
A stand against mediocrity
“When people come to us for a mobile solution, we make sure that they want to develop a product for their target audience, and not just tick the box called ‘mobile’.”
Most companies approach Hundermark saying, “we want an app,” and provide a ten-line brief.
“The selection process comes in when I determine whether or not the client is prepared to spend time unpacking their specific needs. That’s when I know who is serious and who is ‘dip sticking’. App development can cost anywhere between R200 000 and R2 million, so you have to engage with people who are committed.
“I work with clients to understand what their business and user objectives are, because apps are ultimately in the hands of the consumer. Few clients have a comprehensive business strategy, so that is our real value-add. Only once we understand the business strategy do we work on a product strategy. The product strategy is essential, because it allows a business to zero in on specific target audiences. It’s a process that enables us to define key product and user or consumer attributes.”
With Hundermark bringing strategic expertise to the business and her partner Reed offering creative capability, they have chosen to keep the business small because clients pay for specialist know-how.
Her aim is to have between five and ten big clients, and to scale up or down as required by accessing expert resources in her network.
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Hundermark says she will not undercut to keep clients.
“I respect that some clients will find a cheaper option, but you can’t maintain an A-class team by dropping your prices. I’ve seen it happen at agencies, and it’s demoralising for everyone. If your business is not profitable, it’s not worth running.”
Why product strategy matters
Products create revenue. That’s why product strategy must be carefully crafted and aligned with the overarching business strategy.
“Product strategy has a huge impact on what you get at the end of the development process,” says Hundermark.
“When someone comes up with an idea for an app, yes, we can jump in and start developing. We can create a usable minimum viable product. But where to from there? Product strategy is like building a house — you would not do that without a plan. It’s the only way to determine how to get the functionality that the business and that its customers will demand.”
There’s another key benefit to helping clients develop a product roadmap.
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“It enables you to offer a premier service. Because we are so closely involved in the strategy, we end up ‘owning’ the product, even though we don’t really. That makes a massive difference because we share vested interest with the client and are able to advise on updates and changes that may impact their business, making it easier to remain a trusted advisor and retain that client’s business in the long term.”