Why we are rebranding after 3 years
For the first 3 years of the existence of our company we were called “Exelerate” (logo shared below). The name came from a short brainstorm session where we debated whether it should be spelled:
In the end it didn’t matter because almost everyone got it wrong one way or another. The most popular misspelling was “Accelerate” of course. 😅
Lack of intent
The name much like our company within the first 3 years was without intent and clear vision. We chose it because we thought it sounded cool and it looked cool on our company-issued hoodies (cool-af hoodies shared below). We didn’t really know what we as a team and a company stood for nor what was our differentiation on the market (not for lack of trying though).
Afterwards we tried to give it some meaning that aligned with what we wanted to represent, so we came up with:
“We accelerate (from Exelerate, get it?) the growth of startups we partner with by building great software products for them”.
At first we were your run-of-the-mill agency where we took any work that came to us, actually our first project was rebuilding a huge legacy software that took us years to finish, that sucked.
However I was adamant that we needed to differentiate to be legit, since there were a million software agencies out there, and we should… no we must differentiate!
Finding our identity
So, we started identifying as a “venture studio” or a “startup that builds startups” where we took a cash/equity split as payment from our partners - pro-tip: that’s a horrible business plan, don’t do it.
After that blew up in our face and we had to let go of 10 out of the 19 employees we had hired in our first year, I never wanted to have a bench team ever again that burns into the company's profit so there was a short period of time where we became a “network of startup builders”.
The logic was we will just find projects, and connect them with freelancers that we would vet beforehand. Slightly over-pivoted there into a business we didn’t even like running.
I hated working with contractors and not owning the quality of output of the service I was selling.
It just wasn’t the business we wanted to run, we wanted to build great products for both ourselves and our clients with the help of a great team of builders we would nurture and grow under our culture, and most importantly have control over the quality of services we provide.
Which agencies are successful
This is what I learned from running an agency and studying successful and mediocre agencies for the past three years.
The most successful software agencies often maintain one or two major, consistent clients who have contracted entire teams of 20, 40, or sometimes even hundreds of professionals, including engineers, designers, testers, project managers, and various other roles, from those agencies.
These contracts are also long-term which provide the agencies with predictable revenue that they can re-invest into hiring more talent to place on new clients, invest in R&D, marketing, sales, offices and operations, this is a huge compounding effect that allows agencies to attract the best talent and best clients, which in turn makes them grow fast and profitably.
I call these clients “whales”.
From talking to agency owners and doing market research, how early an agency had landed a “whale” client or not was the biggest predictor for how valuable and successful an agency could be.
Well… we never landed the “whale”. Actually in our first two years our customer’s life span was between six and nine months and usually they could afford only one or two people working on those projects.
I call that the “death-cycle” of an agency, it’s an infinite loop of having shitty clients that expect the world, but have the budget for a dollar-store shopping spree.
We were stuck in that “death-cycle” for years, which led us to jump from project to project, from MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to MVP, launching a ton of products that never went anywhere. But in that process we learnt something… we got actually very, very good at building lean, commercial–ready software products fast and within budget.
One of my favorite books is “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell, in it there is a chapter where he describes how the Beatles became THE Beatles. Basically, before they were the world-renowned Beatles they were a no-name band whose manager got them a deal to play 8 hour long gigs every night in Hamburg for a full year for next to no compensation. They did it purely out of the love of playing, well that and the ton of sex and booze that was readily available to them.
The author Malcom Gladwell says that this relentless schedule is what actually turned them from just another British band to THE Beatles as they got a ton more practice than any other band at that point in time.
So that’s when it hit me, that “death-cycle” we were in for the past two years was our “Hamburg”. For two full years our team built and launched products on very ambitious timelines and tight budgets, over and over again - honing a skill that we now realize has huge value and thus demand on the market.
Actually our offer of building an “MVP in 90 days for just $45K” apparently was so good and out of the norm for the industry that when I shared it with other agency owners they looked at me like I was crazy, for both leaving money on the table and giving such ambitious deadlines for delivering a product.
That’s when it hit me, this was our differentiation, this was our $100M offer. For those of you not aware this is a term coined by the legend that is Alex Hormozi in his book “$100M Offers”.
I have a great deal of admiration toward him and consider him basically my mentor (he in turn doesn’t even know I exist). So when all of this clicked I felt very strongly to pursue this further.
We decided to rebrand accordingly, this time with a clear intent and laser–like focus. We would be experts in building MVPs, the best partner you can have for getting you from 0 to 1 on the market fast and within a budget - and we would be called “MVP Masters”.
Next up was the logo, the initial draft was a paper plane, because you know… a paper plane is kind of an MVP of an actual plane. We designed a ton of variations based on that initial idea as you can see below:
In the end we went with the simplest version, elegant and clean 🤩.
We cooked up a simple landing page with our $100M offer slapped on the hero section, created an inbound funnel with Typeform and Calendly and we were ready to come out to the world as MVP Masters within a month after having the idea.
I feel very confident about the future of MVP Masters. I am looking forward to reading this back in a few years from now and adding a few chapters on how we managed to scale to a world-class agency.
In the meantime if you or anyone you know wants to launch a software product fast and within budget feel free to hit us up.
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