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08/10/2017

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DeveloperTown is a consulting firm specializing in launching new software products for large and small companies alike. By leveraging their experience with startups, DeveloperTown designs, develops, and delivers software to help innovative leaders solve business problems. As an Inc 5000 fastest-growing company, their focus is cloud-based software-as-a-service and mobile solutions. ...

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Christine Brackenhoff
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Startup-Style Feistiness: Large Companies Find Innovative Software Partner in Indianapolis’ DeveloperTown

There’s a company in Indiana that’s created everything from a football prediction app and counterfeit appliance tracker for manufacturers, to a drone-powered, thermodynamic system that tells farmers exactly what seeds and fertilizers to use where.

It sounds like some kind of startup incubator; it’s not. It’s DeveloperTown, the 50+ person company bringing startup energy and approaches to vital problems in enterprise-sized businesses. Tackling a broad range of industries, it injects the agility and leanness of startups, helping companies step outside of ingrained politics and methods to build products that unite the best of old and new.

“Innovative software projects are risky, and can sometimes result in failure. When people or projects fail, the ideal situation is to fail safely and as constructively as possible.” says DeveloperTown Managing Partner Michael Kelly. “That’s not always easy to do in a large organization. We try to reduce the risk, and help with the ongoing culture change required to sustain that kind of risk-taking.”

DeveloperTown is upfront with clients about that risk. That way, no decision makers have to put their own career on the line to make change. “If an idea is going to fail, let’s learn enough to kill it or keep it,” Kelly continues. “In this way, we create the freedom to find a truly new solution. Otherwise, innovation is only available to upstarts who have nothing to lose.”

This line of thinking isn’t new; it’s just fresh to the enterprise world. For their first three years in business, DeveloperTown focused their efforts on helping startups design, develop, and launch web and mobile products. “In the startup world, risk is assumed,” Kelly says, “but in the enterprise, it’s avoided.”

As they started taking on ever bigger clients, they realized that the same entrepreneurial leaders they worked with at startups were also inside large companies. “Entrepreneurs attract the press and startups get the glory when it comes to doing interesting and innovative work,” Nick Wangler, Director of Marketing Services says. “But what we’ve found is that some of the most entrepreneurial leaders in the world are quietly doing impactful and innovative work inside of large companies.”

This realization led DeveloperTown to lean heavily into the enterprise world, bringing with them years of experience founding and working with startups on technology projects. At the same time, they continued to collaborate with entrepreneurs at the start up stage, savoring the challenge and enhancing their enterprise work.

Going beyond just building a product, they nudge clients to solve a company-specific problem, with all its industry and human context, by asking uncomfortable questions. “As outsiders we aren’t as inclined to agree,” explains Kelly.  “We will ask the ‘new guy’ questions that will make you look at your assumptions. ‘Why don’t you want to sell directly to consumers? Because there’s a division of your company you’d be cutting out of the market? Oh, so this is just corporate politics. Are you going to have to do this in five years anyway?’ We can step back from the business and look objectively to help the company make better decisions.”

These decisions lead to a bridge between legacy systems, real-world hardware and human resources, and new technologies, something that demands more than coding skills or design tweaks. DeveloperTown built a best-in-class mobile platform to manage flight crew assignments and amenities for a regional airline, changing the employee experience completely. They created an attractive automated way to track water quality and state reporting for small-town utilities, a product set to standardize an often ad hoc pencil-and-paper process.

Working with DeveloperTown, companies get the benefit of seven years of technical expertise across dozens of sectors, from agriculture to gaming. DeveloperTown looks for its clients to bring the deep industry experience, and they bring the deep experience in what’s possible through technology.

“We work across all different industries, many of them heavily regulated and highly complex,” says Kelly. “When one of our designers comes to a problem, they can look at it from a multi-faceted perspective, applying solutions from one industry to another. This fresh set of eyes results in very different solutions, ones that often help clients take a big step forward.”

 

About DeveloperTown

DeveloperTown is a consulting firm specializing in launching new software products for large and small companies alike. By leveraging their experience with startups, DeveloperTown designs, develops, and delivers software to help innovative leaders solve business problems. As an Inc 5000 fastest-growing company, their focus is cloud-based software-as-a-service and mobile solutions. DeveloperTown offers a full suite of award-winning design products, including branding, marketing strategy, user experience and visual design, online marketing, and social media.