Member Article

Planning for success in post lockdown and beyond

Ezequiel Cura, VP of Engineering, Badi

Start-ups have had to make adjustments at an incredible speed around how we operate and the ways we work together remotely. Now more than ever, it’s critical that we future proof against uncertainty and the challenging business climate to come.

From an engineering perspective, many projects have been scrapped or revamped to reflect both a drop in demand and the current business climate. We’ve been looking at some of the practical steps that engineering and product teams could be taking to set their start-up for success.

**Creating a better future means learning from the past
** The economic crisis in the early 2000s provides an road-map for start-ups to learn from. ‘From Zero to One’, written by entrepreneur Peter Thiel, offers an enlightening look into our tech industry and a roadmap that can help engineering and tech teams determine where to focus their efforts in order to make a positive impact on the business.

Thiel outlines the four characteristics that any dominant company should have, including economies of scale, intellectual property, network effects and branding. The crisis has crippled if not fundamentally levelled these characteristics.

For most industries, economies of scale have vanished almost entirely. Software-based have been less impacted. On the other hand, established companies like Uber and Airbnb have been massively impacted, resulting in travel demand dropping off a cliff. While travel begins to resume again, albeit on a much smaller scale than ‘normal’, challenges continue to remain for these businesses.

If efficiency used to be your company’s competitive advantage, the pandemic totally changed the fundamental rules of engagement. In this case, a business’s structure is now its biggest liability, because it is a fixed cost.

How can businesses effectively manage this? The ‘new normal’ has definitely impacted projects and plans for a majority of businesses. However, there are still opportunities for engineering and tech teams to make a lasting impact on products and services moving forward.

Our team has implemented a three-step process to overcome challenges, including wait and perfect, embrace and changing course.

**Wait and perfect ** The most immediate reaction is to wait and see how the situation will evolve, given that “this is rare and will go away”. However, the decision to keep some part of your teams working across product excellence or continue with their usual projects could be a mistake.

This approach should shift slightly to wait and perfect. You are likely missing opportunities to explore new solutions and products. And, if the situation remains the same for longer than anticipated, the business could experience serious challenges in a couple of months.

Think about the key parts of your platform or business that are needed now more than ever. Let your users and customers help you determine how you can best support their changing needs. At Badi, we evaluated the parts of our platform that were vital to users during lockdown and we focused on improving their user experience.

At the same time, we listened to our users and began to anticipate what features they’d need most once lockdown was lifted - for example, Badi’s search engine and platform curation. After three months of lockdown, more users were looking to move - so we wanted to optimise their search to show them the best listings. At the same time, we wanted the booking process to be seamless - ensuring users could quickly, securely and easily book a room on Badi.

We invested more time in both of these areas so that we could provide the best experience to our users, even though we wouldn’t see a measurable impact anytime soon. For us, the key question we asked ourselves was - who is going to still need our help the most after lockdown? Thinking ahead – we’re now considering what features our users might need should they experience a second lockdown – and how can we support them?

By asking ourselves this question as we were progressing new features and projects it helped our team to focus on what will matter most to our users and most importantly, ultimately have the biggest positive impact for our business long-term.

**Embrace the ‘new normal’ – it brings both challenges but also opportunities
** For experienced engineers, this is a step forward from usual practice, thinking of scalability and maintainability. Usually when planning a long-term project engineers consider potential issues, changes in technology, new requirements, different global policies and features, among others.

As a result, they usually propose engineering designs that aren’t necessarily the best short term, but they’re reliable in the long run. So, it’s critical to ask - what will our users need now and how will these products or features make sense as we are emerging from lockdown?

**Changing course
** Many projects will need to be shelved or completely abandoned at this time. When considering what projects to prioritise, we asked our engineering team - ‘Would we ever come back to this project?’ If the answer was ‘when things are back to normal’, it’s likely time to table this initiative. As businesses are beginning to open, it’s still difficult to predict when we’ll begin to move back to ‘normal’ and actually, what that will look like for businesses and consumers.

**What’s next? ** When thinking about how to drive momentum, consider what your business’s purpose is and how you can re-energise efforts to deliver on your start-up’s purpose.

Ask the business ‘how can we harness this opportunity?’. For Badi, we’re focusing on shared experiences. As a room rental start-up, we believe that experiences are more valuable when shared with others. Our users echo this sentiment as nearly two-thirds (60%) found living together with others during lockdown to be positive.

This focus is enabling us to deliver new products and services at pace that will make a positive impact for our users now, but also in the future. While what’s to come continues to be uncertain, channelling your start-up’s purpose will enable you to engineer new solutions and products that will positively impact the business, whilst identifying new opportunities for innovation and growth.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Badi .

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