Branded is a Tel-Aviv based app development agency that assists startups in building outstanding digital businesses right from the initial specification to a final end product. As part of their unique business model, Branded provides startups with up to 80% funding for their projects, in return for up to 10% equity. This way, they are hoping to become game changers in the Israeli startup world. I sat down for a talk with CEO Ari Efron to hear what Branded is all about.
Please Describe the Background and Vision Behind Branded.
Branded was founded in 2016 with the purpose of serving startups. We help startups grow and develop their product, not just by leading them through the development process, but also the business idea.
We also have a unique plan under the name “startup city” where we help selected startups to create a fully working product by investing up to 80% of the total development costs. We take the top ideas that come to us and invest money to help them grow.
The capital is self-capital that we have made in 2016 through the selling of a previous tech startup. We decided to open Branded and serve the startup community because we had the power and ability to influence the ecosystem.
What are the fundamentals of a successful development project?
A good development project should be broken down into several phases, each with its own milestones and targets.
The main idea is to do a good specification, which is the basis that too many people in the startup world are forgetting, and it creates many problems.
We take the specification very seriously so that we don’t have any issues during the development process. Entrepreneurs should cover all kinds of use-cases and include flow diagrams, target audience characteristics etc., thus creating a clear business model.
Knowing where the money is coming from, whether it’s going to be a subscription, percentage from income etc. is crucial to a project’s success.
The second thing is that we start the UX which is the wireframing part. We see where each component of the app is going to be placed, and we match the UX to our target audience needs. We send our clients, the startups, to do their research and we discover many things about the audience and what interests them, in order to create a better experience for them.
Then we do a brand book. Even if you don’t have a logo there’s a lot to tell about your brand. For example, if the target audience is women between 35-45 years of age, the colors would be different than if the target audience was 13-15-year-old boys.
We create a brand book that represents the brand style, including main messages, typography, colors, and designs, which will later be used across all platforms; if needed, we create a new logo or match the existing colors to the logo. We take this very seriously.
We combine the UX in the brand book to get a layout of the design, and then we create a prototype for our entrepreneurs so they can get a first impression of their product.
Once we are done with the UI/UX, brand book and project specification, we move into the development part which typically takes between 2-3 months.
We take quality very seriously because we know how important it is when you don’t have the audience yet. In order to earn the audience, they need a good product, and that is what Branded is here to accomplish.
What can you tell us about Startup City?
We have an application process where we decide which startups have the most promising future. In 2018 one of the most important things for a startup is a strong business model.
One of the main focuses is to find startups that are willing to combine a strong business model which can grow exponentially; this way we ensure it will be able to pass with no extra debt.
We have a form that we send to applicants with questions about the team, their willingness to invest time and efforts, where do they get ideas from, etc.
Those questions give us a better understanding of the team because, at the end of the day, we’re invested in people, not just ideas.
How much are they going to invest, or how far will they go in order to succeed, is what makes the difference between a good startup and a great one.
We also realize that people who invest some of their own money will also invest in the products, that is why we only give up to 80% and not 100%, as it allows productivity to grow much higher.
Which technologies do you find to be the most intriguing these days and why?
When it comes to websites, JS is a leading language on the front side.
On the backend, we work mostly with node JS, which for me is one of the best languages out there because it leads to a stable product.
On the app side, JS has frameworks that people are very excited about, like react native and hybrid apps. For us, we are leading startups and we want to give them a very stable product. That is why we prefer to create native apps for android and IOS. We want them to not worry about any bugs or instability that will affect their performance.
How do you see the future of software development in 5 years from now?
Software development is going to be more dedicated to the business side. Right now there are many apps for consumers, but slowly we start to understand we cannot continue that path because consumers are not paying for the service.
In the future, most apps will be dedicated to enterprises.
Regarding technology, I expect native apps to become prevalent.
Google and a few other companies are working on creating an engine that will combine the development process for both iOS and Android, planned to launch around 2020.
Combining these two together is elementary to the future of native apps.
Having said that, from what I have learned, whatever we predict about the future is probably wrong.