As I’m going through the process of building my own mobile app, I’m realizing the appeal of a boutique consultancy. As much as I love UX and business models (false), I understand the importance of tech professionals. That’s why when I sat down with Chad DePue, founder of inaka, the end-to-end web and mobile app development consultancy, I wanted to absorb all the app-building knowledge I could. He happily offered up his very useful advice and also shared his startup story. Check it.
Tell us a little more about your background and what inspired inaka.
I worked at Microsoft after college and there was a huge change at the time. I worked in developer tools, but I ended up leaving my job because I didn’t like the big company culture. I went to a startup called Good Technology that had about 10 people when I started; by the time I left I was the VP on engineering and there were about 500 people. It was a huge ride, really fun. But I got kind of tired of it and decided to go to South America.
I started to do my own consulting in 2008. In 2010, I started a consulting company. I love diving into technical projects, and I realized right away we weren’t going to be a giant company but more of a boutique place where everyone is going to be super technical and very invested in your startup.
One of our first projects was with MTV, and we built their biggest app for them, and did the same one for VH1. And, that’s how most of our projects run. A company comes to us who doesn’t have a tech team; we build it out for them and usually run it. In 2 years we’ve grown from 3 to 27.
What do you think about kids learning code in school?
I have 3 boys and literally their favorite game to play is Scratch, where you do things like write your own PacMan game, and they love it. A part of it is that they see me doing it and want to learn it. I tried teaching them code about a year ago, but I think until kids are about 13, they don’t really have the mental capacity to really grasp it. They can learn the basics, but they don’t really get it. And so, I think it’s kind of cool and I think it’s something that’s really helpful to know. There’s the idea that software is leading everything in the world and you have to do some level of programming. But, honestly, I don’t think it’s worth learning until kids are about 13.
Who has been your biggest or most successful client to date?
The hardest thing about being a consulting company is you just do a project and you’re done, and you have this infinite stream of starting over. So we try and do things different. If there’s a project we believe in, we’ll make an investment so we’re more a part of it. Whisper is probably our most successful because their growth is so massive, and we feel we’re invested in that. Our biggest client has been Viacom.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
First, I would say learn as much as you can about MVPs and being a lean startup. We’ve had clients that have wanted these massive, over-engineered projects, and we’ve steered them to make it less complicated, and then we’ve had clients that are so into the MVP that they’ve literally launched an app that’s just a camera.
I think it’s important to know that the MVP is enough that nothing is missing, but it’s still compelling.
Web App or site you couldn’t live without and why.
Lately, it’s Stitcher because it’s the easiest podcast tool I’ve ever used.
What’s the greatest thing about inaka?
The one thing I really believe in is bootstrapping startups and diving in and giving people all of our experience, even though we’re remote. It’s a value because we’ve got a ton of experience, and we really make our projects our own.
Thanks, Chad! If you’ve got a project that demands an experienced, dedicated tech team (like my app), check out inaka. Also, check out their project Whisper and start anonymously divulging some of your deepest secrets. Trust me, it’s fun. And finally, shout out to my very smart and talented friend Manuel Gomez who, as it turns out, was the first employee at inaka. Crushing it.