How We Work vs. Traditional Agencies

26 February, 2024

How we work - ZenDev

So.. here we are, you have an idea for a software solution, you’re excited about it. 

If you have any connection at all with the IT industry, someone has probably already told you that you should start by building a so-called MVP (minimum viable product). 

This won’t cost you too much money as it’s a scaled down version of the app with only essential features, but once you build it, you’ll be able to sell it, or if you’re in a hurry, raise capital from investors based on that prototype.

With that new money, you will then be able to build the full scale version with all the features you imagined, and create a successful company. 

MVP creating

So, you figure, I have some money to build this MVP, let's for example say a $25,000 budget. 

You now contact an agency and say, I have $25,000 dollars to build an MVP, and here is my requirements specification.. Can you build this for me?

Traditional agencies will break down your requirements, and see how many of the features they can squeeze in for that $25,000, call it the MVP together with you, and give you a proposal.

If you’re happy with the proposal, you accept, and you’re off to building.


The core problem here is that when someone says; build me an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) it implies that they already know what’s viable for the targeted audience.

But the reality of new products is that no matter how much you think your new idea is amazing, you don’t know if it will be adopted by the users.

It’s not we who build it that decide if it’s a Viable, it’s the target audience using it.

There’s gotta be a better way?!

First you need to realize that the chances of your first product version being commercial success, are VERY slim. Second and third time entrepreneurs have learned this the hard way.

So you need to switch your mindset. 

Imagine that you’re a researcher with a hypothesis about what your desired customers want.

You now backtrack from that, and think about how you can measure if that claim is true, and only then do you think about what you need to build to test this hypothesis. The test and implementation will lead to learning, and new ideas will come out of it.

This methodology is what you call the B-M-L cycle (Build-Measure-Learn), from the infamous “Lean Startup” book, by Eric Reis.

Build measure learn cycle

The problem here is that if you spend your whole budget on one “cycle”, and you learn that you haven’t understood your customer's needs well enough.. It's game over.

So how would ZenDev approach this?

  1. If we get to do it how we wish, we would want to make the most out of your hard-earned-money, so we would ask you explicitly to tell us what your product hypothesis is, and what your budget is.. not what you want to build.


  2. We would then challenge you on what the minimum thing we can build is, that would be able to give you an answer to your hypothesis. For example, maybe you don’t need an app to test it, maybe you just need a visual prototype? Maybe there is a third party solution that can test that hypothesis?

    Our goal here is to go through as many B-M-L cycles as possible with your given $25K budget, because with each cycle, we’ll learn more about your customer needs, and have a better chance of actually creating the product that customers want. 

    how to use the budget


  3. We then assemble the team needed to get going. We define what tools we use, and who is responsible for making product decisions, UX/UI design, project management, development and quality control. A so-called “Way of working” document.


That makes sense... How long do we work like this?

As long as the product exists. Early on you use this process to find out what customers are willing to buy, in business terms, your searching for “product-market-fit”. 

Later on you have the same approach, but you focus on growth. For example you play with changing your landing page and measure how it affects conversion rate, you do the same thing with features. Always with measurement in mind.. The numbers don’t lie.. Intuition sometimes does.


This is getting a bit too advanced?

I agree, I can’t help it, I get excited about these things. 
Reach out to us here to see how we can help you. 🙂


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