Create a first MVP and gather customer feedback with low code

Low Code Founders Optimo

In this episode, we are talking with Mona und Rinu from Optimo. They are currently developing a first MVP with low code to gather customer feedback in a short amount of time.

We are talking about the possibilities of low code for your MVP development and how accelerator programs can help you.

Links mentioned in the episode:
https://tryoptimo.eu/
https://www.sibb.de/

If you have feedback or ideas on which topics need to be covered at this podcast – you are more than welcome to get in touch with me.

You can find more information on www.lowcode-founders.com, or you can drop me a message at sarah@biberei.de

Enjoy and keep on building new digital products. 

Sarah 

Transcript of the episode: Create a first MVP and gather customer feedback with low code

Intro Mona: 

 It all started with a challenge. So this Hackathon kind of had a topic which was the future of work. Um and these companies gave us the problem or like a yeah let’s say the problem statement. Okay, how do we obscure factory workers so that they are prepared for the future? And this was this kind of helped us as a guideline to find out what might be problems and opportunities for us to find out more about the situation and how can we optimize it. And that’s also how the name optimal kind of established.

Speaker Sarah: 

Hello and welcome to a new episode of the low code founders podcast.  My name is Sarah from the Biberei I and I am the host of this podcast. Today we will not only have one guest with us but two so it’s Mona and Rinu the founders of the company Optimo and in today’s episode we will learn how to start a B2B company with low code and in the product field and how an accelerator program can help you with that. So welcome you two.  Let’s start with what is Optimo all about. I think the audience has some guesses in mind when hearing the name Optimo, but yeah, what is optimal all about and why did you founded it?

Speaker Rinu:

Well, Optimo is a platform which focuses on education opportunities for blue collar workers, so people who work in the factory and we both started together with innovation project back in Frankfurt uh and worked with several industrial companies like Chevron and Nestle. It started off there with that topic and then  Mona and I were so passionate about the topic that we actually wanted to continue. We applied for a startup scholarship in Berlin, that’s basically where we are right now.

Speaker Sarah:

So how did you know each other? Did you know each other through this innovation project or did you study together or?

Speaker Mona:

Yeah, like as we know setback in Frankfurt. We had this um three-month program which was basically like a like an extended hackathon and we were put together in two teams of 4-5 people and yeah, this was the day we met and then afterwards we continued.

Speaker Sarah:

And so then that’s how the idea was founded from from Optimo. So you saw in the companies, you mentioned that there is a lack of knowledge or what exactly did you found that what was so inspiring for you to start Optimo?

Speaker Mona:

So it all started with a challenge. So this hackathon kind of had a topic which was the future of work. Um and these companies gave us the problem or like a yeah, let’s say the problem statement, Okay, how do we obscure factory workers so that they are prepared for the future? And this was this kind of helped us as a guideline to find out what might be problems and opportunities for us to find out more about the situation and how can we optimize it and that’s also how the name Optimo kind of established.

Speaker Sarah: 

And so did the companies also told you a little bit what they are doing already to up skill their employees and why do you think it is extremely important in order to keep the innovation in the companies?

Speaker Rinu:

Yeah. So they also told us what they’re actually doing. So some of them are already starting some rather digital approaches. They have like computer labs. Um but mainly it’s still um goes with peer to peer training or like the security ones are held by professional stuff, so that’s what they actually currently do there here and there already trying also to test out like VR glasses, air glasses, um or also tablets. So um they’re trying to do whatever they can. I mean in some shop floors it’s quite difficult regarding security reasons. Um so that’s one thing, but I think in general it’s quite important because if you look at the trend of industry 4.0 and how like production, everything is going to change. Um you see that the trend is going um rather towards that people have to manage their tasks instead of just doing what they’re currently doing. So um their tasks are going to change and that’s why they need some sort of upscaling as well. 

Speaker Sarah:

And I also think, I mean I was working in the automotive industry for a couple of years and of course there are the topic of e-mobility and digitalization is a big topic where people are afraid of losing their jobs. I think this is you know if you’re working in this field and have built non electric week, it’s for all your life of course you are you are afraid of this changing of this transformation. So I think this topic will be much more important in the future and what I really like about what you just told is the idea of peer to peer training, maybe you can elaborate a little bit more that what this actually means and why this is  so valuable for the companies and for the employees.

Speaker Mona:

Yeah, so after, I don’t know more than 30 interviews in the beginning with different people from the factory like HR managers and also the factory workers, we found out how they actually upscale right now and also what kind of up scaling methods are the most effective ones. So most of the learning happens on the job and usually it happens when they for example make a mistake or something and someone comes to them and helps them to fix the mistake. They also have this like they also sometimes have possibility through like the learnings or um as we know mentioned the safety trainings. But mostly and I think it’s almost 70% of all the learnings they’re doing is this kind of peer to peer and on the job training and it’s not only the most effective one in terms of how they obtained the knowledge but it’s also really good for improving the communication between the people and we found out it’s not only the um most like the best thing for the employees because they like to talk to each other, but it’s also the best thing for the company as we found out right now because it kind of creates this interconnection between different departments also and also between different production lines and that’s how they kind of learn about the big picture and the company.

Speaker Sarah:

Yeah. And and and I absolutely agree. And maybe one point to add on this, it’s also if someone from aexternal company comes into the facility and no matter whether it’s in a production facility or another topic, they never have this inside view, which can be good and can be bad. But if you want to apply your knowledge and not only the consumer, you have to have this internal knowledge and that’s why I also think that learning on the job giving, you’re giving the employees time to maybe try something out and learn from others and learning from mistakes, which I think it’s the best way of learning anyway, um is really is really, is much more better than just hiring external consultants, um nothing against external consultants. Um but they’re giving a training and then they’re gone and they mean they can’t apply this to this to the internal company and to the program problems they are facing because they simply don’t know, I mean that’s just the nature of the external consultancy. So so as you said, there are already some learning programs the companies are applying what makes Optimo now so unique. What is your what what is the the ultimate functionality which um yeah, makes  Optimo so new, unique and valuable?

Speaker Rinu:

I guess on the one side a problem they were telling is like in general that they do have a lot of opportunities within the company but it’s not that well structured. Um so we structure it a little bit better like and then on the other hand, our solution really tries to focus on the workers themselves. So with our solution they should get like direct access to all the possibilities they have within the company and then they can set themselves, they’re learning goals and really, you know, we want to put them and their motivation into the center and I think those two things like getting an overview of everything and putting your own motivation in the center, that’s basically what makes it unique.

Speaker Sarah:

And currently it’s supported with the app are currently developing? Yes. Okay. Okay. And  how are you planning to sell to the companies? Are your planning it to make white label app or  what’s your vision on that?

Speaker Mona:

I remember we already talked about it I think a couple of days ago in our coaching everyone. So yeah the goal is to kind of have a product that can be used in um several companies that have similar problems. Um And right now what we’re planning to do is having like a disaster licensing model where the companies pay in regards to the number of employees that used here and um yeah that’s what we’re going for right now. We will test it and then maybe figure out what what works best.

Speaker Sarah:

Yeah. And um when just for the audience I know Mona and Rinu before because and I got to know the both um what I was giving a workshop for of course low code topics and that’s how we met each other just as a small background information and that’s why we also talked of course a little bit about the topics and you used low code so far. First question why did you do that? And the second question, could you could you imagine um how you, were you able to develop this app also without low code or was low code kind of the game changer for you? 

Speaker Rinu:

I would say it was sort of a game changer for us like I mean we both do have some knowledge regarding it but obviously um like really programming on scratch takes like a lot of time and I mean Mona and I we had like a lot of other things and topics to clarify as well so with our CTO. And like when he also said like you know for the beginning just to really get an MVP real fast that you can like also pitch to companies. Um That could be really a game changer like it could like we could do it super fast and I think we both were also like really impressed and sort of like why didn’t we think about it earlier because that would have um made things much faster. I think I remember that like in the program in Frankfurt we also did a lot with prototyping with Figma um which was also really time consuming like then and now I think maybe you could have done that with a no code or low code up as well.

Speaker Mona:

Yeah and I want to add something like yesterday I know since we were talking more about low code and also the possibilities to continue with low code. Like um when we think about like integrating just web app and then continue with the low code as a basis it’s like there are so many opportunities you can uh that kind of arise from that um Yeah like for example yesterday I thought about it why did we even start and how like because we can program too but for us it would have been different so if I started like with a native app development for example I would have started with the basis like designing Ui and for example Swift I don’t know and then going on with some features and all of it. And it would have taken me more than two weeks probably to have the first screens because like programming solo because for example someone has to do the business stuff as well. And then I thought okay but now we kind of figured out that maybe native is not so smart for the long run. So it’s really cool that we have also in our city. Oh and the team who has uh who is a senior developer and has like a better overview of all the possibilities and kind of from the beginning told us let’s start with low code we do nothing wrong with that. And we can develop much faster and uh save money and time which is so valuable for us in the beginning.

Speaker Sarah:

And also I mean of course it’s a budget topic and it’s a time topic and also you are much faster in terms of changing a product where you will go and  imagine you are you’re now working with a company making field test trying out your MVP. And you can change features while you’re there. This is I mean this is amazing. Um If you tell this uh normal software developer I mean that’s just out of his head that he can actually do it because like you said normal programming just takes much more longer. And what I really liked also about what you just said is that you can combine low code also in the long term and also see how it maybe you’re not only use low code, maybe you use also normal programming and combine it together. And I think this is a topic which we need to talk about more because in the marketing unfortunately there’s kind of opinion use low code or don’t use low code. So it’s like a black and white and I think this is absolutely not the case and I think you can even expand the possibilities you have when using low code and combining it with with normal programming. And so there will be a lot of topics around us in the future because I really really think this is a game changer. Again not only low code but also combining low code  um with normal programming. Um so you when met in this acceleration program and maybe you can tell a little bit the audience about this acceleration program how you applied and also which benefits you’re now getting because I can guess maybe may have some founders in the audience was thinking about is an acceleration program is the right program for me. 

Speaker Mona:

Um Yeah it was actually also a game changer for us because this program helped us to continue um with optimal and have more time to develop our ideas.
So where is that? So in february 2021 we ended the first program in Frankfurt, like this integration program and then in april SIBB Scholarship started and um the application process included, I think a one pager of the idea. Who is the team then? I think a three minute video of the idea and the team and what we’re like what we want out of the program. Um and also and then and then we had I think the second round I think there were three or two rounds, I’m not sure again. And then um in the second round we had to do a pitch and for that we also had to prepare five pager including I think a detailed description of the idea of a financial plan, two year old map and um some other things and ethic Q. And A. I think also um and then we had a selection pitch and I think there were 12 teams or 14 and out of those eight were selected For the program and this program is uh 6-9 months long. So um you get funding like all the founders are like not, yeah all the founders get 1800€, your scholarship per month and um you can extend that program up to nine months and then you also have to do another selection pitch again um in order to get these nine months and you know you can continue with the benefits.

Speaker Rinu:

Yeah I think for us there is really valuable too. I mean obviously meet other founders were sort of in a similar stage um also, but then again, we’re like doing really different things. Um So it was also really nice to just get an outside perspective on the topics on the things you struggle. Uh And then on the other hand, mentorships and the coaching from different kinds of people were also really great, especially lately I feel like the ones who gave us the workshops and the coaching, they also sort of always had like an industrial background which was really suitable for us. So when we went on a one on. session later on, um Yeah, they could, they were able to talk about like all their personal experiences as well which really helped us. Um Yeah, so we really took a lot out of it and I think um yeah, the program itself, um if you use it wisely, um you can really get a lot out of it, especially with the coaching

Speaker Sarah:

How time consuming is this program. So how many workshops, mentor coaching sessions do you have?

Speaker Rinu:

Um So we usually have like to uh like two workshops uh in a week. Um and the coaching um which you schedule schedule on your own, there sort of up to you, so you like you either schedule them or you just leave it. Uh And I guess it like the program itself is like we’re doing it full time, so it is time consuming but I guess like that’s what we wanted. So yeah

Speaker Sarah:

What are the topics which were which are covered by this program? Is it like really from  is it more on product development only or is it rather the whole set of knowledge you have to have in order to start a business?

Speaker Mona:

I think it really is the whole set, it starts with okay our goal setting goes on with how do you develop a product then later comes marketing and business strategies and how to do funding and all of that. So you really, I think we’re not done with the six months yet but we already have a really good overview and learn new skills that um that we like everything is really valuable for us um even though it sometimes doesn’t fit with uh with your special stage. So for example in the beginning we were having a an idea shift with our solution and then we already had product development workshops but we were not there yet with the idea development and problem understanding. So um we’re doing that now like re working on it and we all like we always have the recordings from the workshops so we can go through it again. Um Yeah.

Speaker Sarah:

Yeah and when we’re talking about learnings, I mean you’re you’re in this program since april so four months approximately what was your biggest learning so far maybe about the product the market or about yourself?

Speaker Rinu:

I think about ourselves maybe even though it’s sorry that sounds cliche but um I guess like the first month they were like it was another workflow and um it was really full time again so it was a lot of commitment from our set and I think the like that you really have to trust each other and like yeah that you really have to see you’re working towards the same goal is something um. Yeah which we I mean we always knew it but I guess we sort of rediscovered it for ourselves that you know that we can work well together and that we do that. I think that was one of my biggest biggest learnings even though with a product and everything you know you have ups and downs.

Speaker Sarah:

Mona,  what was your learning?

Speaker Mona: 

Like I I totally agree with renew and another thing we also learned so like we had for example two important goals for our startup journey. So one was to develop a really cool MVP. And uh find a pilot customer and the other one was more on the team side. Be a high performing team. And uh so for example on the product side one of my learnings is that um it really makes sense to continue to uh like to structure validate your idea because we came in with an idea that we all agreed on kind of and we really liked it and it didn’t come from nowhere. So we already thought about it but we kind of also understood that there was something missing and after a couple of user testing and all of that we found out okay maybe this goes in the wrong direction. We have to start with another idea and only at that moment where we where we kind of decided to leave this idea and um start with another one. It kind of just popped out of nowhere so that we had a new idea because we suddenly had more creativity to think about. So it’s a learning that kind of says you should continue and like not stop from the beginning when somebody says your idea doesn’t make sense. But after finding out like really structured what what the problem might be, you can leave your idea and you can you’re open to build a new one. So I think that’s a great learning.

Speaker Rinu:

Kill your darlings

Speaker Sarah:

Yes or another phrase I I also really love and it goes in the same direction is you have to fall in love with your problem and not with your product. And it’s if you if you are a product owner and you know, developing your MVPs, you put so much passion and love into your product of course, right? As he said, an amazing MVP where you can be proud of and of course to kill this or deleted. Um it hurts. I can absolutely agree. I felt a lot of times okay. Um when we now talked about looking back, let’s let’s talk about the future. So where is Optimo in a couple of years?  Have you conquered the world are here in every production company. What what are the next steps you are planning to?

Speaker Mona:

Okay. A couple of years. So yeah. So our idea is to go like to kind of obtain some parts of the production market in Germany starting off with really innovative and ambitious mid sized companies in Germany. Um and I think here our main goal is to be known as an innovative startup that helps your company to find better ways of upscaling and also creating um innovation within the company bottom up. I think um that one thing that is important for us is that we are in five years for example, we will be known as like really as because everybody says you’re so young, how do you have experience? But I think that’s what we will be known for that from. Um because we’re so young we have new perspectives kind of and this helps really the industry to also gain some new perspectives. And I don’t know if we will have like whole Germany or something but we will try and yeah give our skill wallets the chance to shine on the market.

Speaker Sarah:

That’s a wonderful phrase. It says so um yeah for everyone who’s listening and maybe it’s working in a production company and wants to keep the innovation level high. Optimo is a good product use and a very synthetic team. So of course I will put your links in the show notes. And yeah, thank you so much for your time and and all the insights. We never had a bit to be successor service companies so far in this podcast. So yeah, thank you for all those. Um, Learning is also you shared. And yeah, I would put everything in the show notes so that everyone can contact you. Thank you so much for your time.

Speaker Rinu:

Thank you for inviting us.