The Commons, C/O Hero Teams 3 Albert Coates Lane, VIC 3000
Haharina Street, 3, Level 2, Zaporizhia, 83059, Ukraine
November 19, 2020
Coding software is a means to an end. Creating profitable products and businesses is the real goal. Discover the recipe Hero Teams follow to build their own successful ventures, using the same offshore talent and systems they provide to their Australian clients.
With a background in business processes and systems architecture, Hero Teams CEO and Cofounder Jeremy Scott has made a career out of using offshore technology teams to create, streamline and grow businesses, for himself, partners and for clients. Over the course of a decade, he and his team have finely-tuned the processes, people and strategies needed to scale technology teams and build successful enterprise software, with proven results over 200 client projects. “What excites us at Hero Teams is helping businesses succeed by leveraging our proven ability to get the right technical skills on your team fast,” says Scott. Here we look at 6 examples of this secret sauce in action.
In one of his early roles, Scott was systems architect at national chain Strike Bowling. With a casual workforce representing the largest expense, managing rosters, attendance and timesheets was a major pain point. “After scoping out the option of integrating existing server-based systems nationally, we were looking at a $100k+ investment and an inflexible result. With websites becoming more sophisticated at the time, I realised an online system would be better. But there was nothing much out there.” With that insight, startup funding from family and the help of some friends who had just launched a digital agency (Loud & Clear), he set about building his own platform called BoxSuite.
Under capitalised and overly complex, they wildly underestimated how long it would take to design, build and test the system. A 6 month target ballooned to over 2 years, and the ‘final’ product was over engineered with a clunky user experience.
“These days you aim for a minimum viable product. We’d created a maximum unviable product!"
“Eventually I said ‘If we go to market with this, we're just going to get smashed.’ So, we basically threw it away. Two years of work down the drain!” However, having done their 10,000 hours, they took everything they’d learned about workforce management software, and redesigned the entire platform from scratch. “The result was brilliant - clean and simple. Strike Bowling, our founding client, was very happy. It reduced labour costs, streamlined team communication, automated shift management and tracked time. It ticked all the boxes.” A few years later, BoxSuite was acquired by leading cloud-based HR and payroll solutions provider ELMO in a partnership still going strong today.
During this time Loud & Clear had grown steadily, doing innovative development for clients such as Telstra and AGL leveraging the offshore model. Having worked so closely with them on BoxSuite, Scott joined the agency to run operations and finance.
Riding the wave of digital transformation, the business grew quickly from 20 up to 140+ staff, becoming Australia's largest private digital agency at the time. As they grew, Scott’s focus was on automating systems, processes and reports to create an intelligent agency.
Over this period Hero Team’s unique offshoring software development model was finessed.
Scott explains: “We ran a concept called ‘Squads’, where we’d set up the financials, processes and KPIs and let the squads run their own clients and projects. They were accountable for their own results and output, and were rewarded accordingly.”
“We’d fine-tune the processes, get the right people on board and let them run. The result was rapid development, quality work and happy clients.”
“In terms of technology, we integrated everything. Estimating, specifications, project management, communications, margins, changes… it all went into a central dashboard where we could track and manage every metric.”
A few factors made their approach standout. Having broken the process down into a science, they could be 100% transparent with clients on financials, progress and outputs, even margins. They also gave the client control over their ‘always on’ team, which created agile and accountable relationships.
In 2018, Loud & Clear was acquired by leading global digital solutions provider Avanade.
With a proven software development engine in place, Scott and the team had a recipe of teaming up with visionary leaders and industry experts by backing their ideas with technical execution.
For example, they formed a joint partnership with a sports pioneer with a plan to reinvent fantasy football by creating a new games platform. After quickly securing the contracts for AFL and NRL in Australia and the EPL in the UK, FanHub Media was sold.
Again, the team was introduced to a passionate entrepreneur with a casual workforce startup called Sidekicker that needed technical expertise to deliver the product. After the build and launch, Sidekicker gained strong traction before being acquired.
With Loud & Clear focusing on the top end of the enterprise market, Scott grew a new business called Designer Websites using offshore developers to manage the overflow work of smaller web builds. While this agency grew steadily with ongoing clients, it was not in line with the agency's core business and was sold to a complementary business.
Another example is CoverCard, a data and technology platform that helps streamline the job search, recruitment and training of qualifications-based jobs across Australia. The software was developed by Hero Teams and they remain a small shareholder.
Quality and scale using offshore teams
From BoxSuite to CoverCard, and over 200 client projects in between, the common thread in this story has been Hero Teams’ offshore development team in the Ukraine, to which Scott attributes much of the success.
“There are no guarantees and we certainly had misses along the way. But with great people on the business and strategy side, backed by the right technical team, you maximise the odds of success for a new product or business idea.”
“Many businesses lack the systems and skill sets they need to scale efficiently. Especially in technology, where talent is expensive and hard to attract. We’ve used our dedicated Ukraine office from the very beginning to complement and scale our onshore teams.”
“Hero Teams is all about investing in collaborations and long-term relationships to build businesses.”