Our journey to reinvent Pinipa
Today we are launching our new product, Pinipa 2.0. This is the result of 7 months of hard work, which feels like a lifetime for an early stage tech startup. It was not an easy journey, but we are incredibly proud of the results we have achieved.
After successfully raising investment, why did we reinvent ourselves?!
Great question. I will admit, it wasn’t easy to acknowledge we needed to do this, let alone actually decide to do it. But the hard decisions are usually the right ones.
We were fortunate to have some great early customers. As more customers used the product and we gathered more feedback, we worked out which parts of the product worked and which didn’t.
We were also fortunate to be supported by Passion Capital who attended some customer pitches and gave feedback. This suggested we needed to focus on doing one thing well.
Passion also put us in touch with another successful Founder, Matt from GoCardless, who wisely suggested we needed to develop a crystal clear proposition that addressed one of the top three priorities for our audience (without us prompting them!) before trying to scale.
How did we do this?
We had worked with some UX (user experience) students from General Assembly and so decided to take a UX led approach. This completely changed the game for us.
We interviewed over 50 people, including customers, partners, even people who didn’t buy Pinipa. Through these interviews, we clarified what problem they thought we were solving and whether this was indeed a big issue for them. We then asked how an application could help solve that problem.
We developed personas for the main user types, to make sure we stayed focused on solving their problems throughout the design process. We developed prototypes - clickable images - which we used to test the designs before we built anything.
Once we had built the product, a limited number of customers including Microsoft, Capita and PwC as well as smaller organisations in different sectors, used the product. This helped to find bugs and identify further improvements before making it available more broadly.
This meant we not only had a strong product when we launched, but also had customers waiting for it to be released.
What did we learn?
The problem we are solving has largely remained the same, however we refined this to a specific pain point. This allowed us to create a simple tool that obviously creates a lot of value. This is incredibly important for enterprise products, with limited time to discuss with senior leaders we need an obvious reason for them to buy Pinipa when we do!
The new focus, providing oversight and communications for projects, means people don’t need to stop using the tools they already have (which is a difficult sell). Using integrations we can capture important information, create visibility across workstreams in one place, provide targeted email updates for different stakeholder groups, and add value through reporting and analytics. We are making people’s lives easier, rather than trying to change their behaviour.
We also removed a lot of features. Again I’ll admit, this hurt at times. However this has left a beautiful, simple interface that is really easy for people to use. When you compare this to many existing enterprise tools, particularly portfolio and project management tools, Pinipa is a joy to use. This appeals to senior people and non-project experts who would never log on to legacy systems.
And finally, we learnt to not be afraid of breaking the rules - as long as we checked with users first! What we have built is definitely against the norm for project tools. In a world that focuses on box ticking and reports, we have celebrated people, real progress, insights through data, and with a splash of creativity!
What we believe makes our product special
1. Finding simplicity in complexity
Project management, and consultants in general, are very good at creating complexity. When we actually asked project leaders what they want to share, it was very simple: What are the key dates, have they been done or not, where are the potential issues. They wanted to be able to demonstrate progress. So we focused on providing this helicopter view for people who don’t have a lot of time, but want to know what is going on.
2. Creating visibility for decision making
Project management focuses a lot on ticking boxes. However, whether or not they are the right boxes to tick has lot more to do with what decisions are made, when and by who - and making sure everyone knows. So we believe decisions are as important, if not more important, than milestones or activities and have made these equally visible.
3. Embracing email to reach busy people
This goes against the - largely unsuccessful - tech industry push for apps to replace email. Through our interviews, people made it very clear they don’t want to have to log on to yet another tool before they can get any value from it. By embracing email, we have created a CRM-like tool for projects, which makes people’s lives easier rather than trying to change their behaviour.
4. Leveraging the value of data
Still to this day, the most common tool used for projects is Excel. It is simple, easy, flexible and gets the job done. So what could we offer that makes the project team’s lives better? Insights! With modern internet-based technology, we can provide data and analytics that helps project teams have smarter conversations with their stakeholders rather than just provide status reports. And we can do it while significantly reducing time and effort needed by the project team.
Where to from here?
One of the big differences when we share Pinipa with potential customers now is that they quickly find ways they could get value from it themselves. It’s a bit like buying a house, if you start picturing how you could live in the space, you know you have found the right one.
We find this incredibly exciting, and continue to be led by this customer feedback. As a result, we are now starting to develop Pinipa for other situations that also require better oversight and communications, such as for the new Senior Manager Regime introduced by the FCA (the UK Financial Services regulator).
Where many startups are trying to be the latest disruptive thing and create markets that don’t exist, there is still a lot of scope for using technology to make people’s working lives easier, creating simple solutions that are a joy to use and help do work more effectively.