FYELABS is a startup-friendly product development firm. It de-risks the process of developing (or enhancing) a product by:
- being a one-stop-shop, having six areas of practise under one roof, so founders don’t have to shop around and juggle mujltiple contractors
- fixed price and timeline, so founders know how much something will cost going in a no frills approach, with no sales team to date, to keep the service lean
- The company spun out of McMaster University in Hamilton, ON, in Jan 2021, and has thus far served ~95 customers worldwide. The fast-growing team presently has 28 people on payroll, and is based in Hamilton, ON, Canada.
Tell us about yourself?
This is my 3rd startup. Im the first two, I struggled to find talented people to conduct product development, as I couldn’t afford a full-time itnerdisciplinary team, and freelancers or contractors were always hyperspecialized, and thus unable to tackle all aspects of my product.
So, I decided to start a one-stop-shop available to founders. I built a very multifaceted team that can tackle z broad range of problem.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Focus on customer outreach. You may have built the best business int he world, but if your customer’s don’t know about you, there is no point.
What problem does your business solve?
Founders fo tech startups, particularlyl those looking for products beyond a web or mobile application, have a very tough time in the early days.
Most products require multiple skill sets to develop, e.g., to develop a calculator, you will need skills in electronics, industrial design, ergonomics, battery power, firmware, and potentially a few others.
Building your own team inhosue for all these skillsets is both risky and expensive. Risky because it is hard to get good people to work for you, and even when you find them, they often leave for greener pastures. And expensive because, well, … now you have 5 or 6 people on payroll.
So, founders often work with freelancers. However, each freelancer is limited int heir skillset, and not the best collaborator. Each project thus turns into half a dozen individual contracts, and managing the interplay becomes a nightmare.
Before us, there was no one stop shop where a founder can go and describe their product requirements, and be given a fixed price and timeline for that to materialize.
Some specialized shops exist, but are substantially out of the typical startup founders’ price point.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
The hardest part in product development is identifying what your customer needs.
Building the actual product has become a lot easier in the recent years due to the wide availability of open source software/libraries, commodity electronic components, and well-connected developer community. However, this community often hides behind jargons and such, making it inaccessible.
I wanted to create a business model wherein anybody who has a good grasp of a bsuiness opportunity can have access to cost-effective product development as a professional service.
Thus, they can focus on the hardest part… understanding what their customer needs. With the FYELABS model, the development of the product is de-risked to a point where the founder has to merely come up with some time and money.
What is your magic sauce?
We have two magic sauces, that when blended, produce wonders:
- We bring a a one-stop-shop, having six areas of practise under one roof. These include software, algorithms (AI/ML), electronics, indsutrial design, mechatronics/robotics, and computaitonal modeling. Thus, foudners don’t have to shop around and juggle multiple contractors
- Our contracts are fixed price and fixed timeline, so the founder knows going in how much it is going to cost, and how long it is going to take.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
From the three founders, we have grown to 28 employees in 18 months. I think this rate of growth can be sustained for at least the next five years.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Cash flow… being an early stage startup that does not fit the traditional bill for most tech-startups, tech investors don’t take us seriously.
So, we have had to finance this company through personal cash and loans. And … loands for startups are also somewhat non-existent.
How do people get involved/buy into your vision?
A product manager from FYELABS initially engages customers through a triage meeting to develop a scope of work.
Thereafter, within a week, the customer is presented with a draft proposal listing all deliverables, scope of work to arrive at such, and a fixed price and timeline. The product manager then works with the customer to refine the proposal.
Once the final proposal is developed, and executed by both parties, work commences within two weeks. All projects are fixed price.
So if you are a founder, and you know the problem you are solving very well, but struggling daily to build a good product inhouse, … give us a shout. We exist for the sole purpose of bringing your idea to life, and at a cost that you will likely not believe.