What’s like to think and create a product at Kushim

Hi,

I’m Alexandre Crenn, co-founder and COO Kushim, a cloud based portfolio management solution designed specifically for Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors.

For over a year now, we (five co-founders and an amazing tech team) and I have been working to develop a product that could change the world of Venture Capital. This article is to show you the process we’ve undergone to bring you Kushim and how we plan to continue to improve our product. (If you want to know more about how it all began feel free to read: Venture Capitalists: change your life with Kushim)

We started with a specific request from an investment firm, FJ Labs: Make portfolio management bearable and attractive for investors. With that, FJ Labs became our first customer, partner, and investor. Kushim began as a solution to an internal problem, a pain point experienced by our current users in their everyday life. However, FJ Labs wasn’t the only firm without access to an accommodating software. We quickly realized that there wasn’t a truly user friendly management tool available for investors. Since the beginning, we have had just one goal: to improve our user’s experience.

Being a participant in the discovery, growth and success of companies that will change the world. This is our vision of an investor’s job.

How can we improve our user’s experience?

First we asked ourselves the obvious questions. Who are our users? What is their job? What are the main goals of this job? What are the problems they face?

It was through these questions that we began to create solutions.

Our goal is to improve investors lives, so what does an investor do? We don’t think that their job should include hours in front of an excel spreadsheet, nor time looking for documents in emails.

To be an investor is to be a participant in the discovery, growth and success of companies that will change the world. This is the definition of an investor to us.

So we work to help them get back to this fundamental notion of their profession. To create a solution allowing them to save time and spend their energy and expertise meeting entrepreneurs and finding the next unicorn.

Enable our users to become SUPER users

At Kushim we wanted to create a product that solves investor’s portfolio management problems.

A cool user + Kushim = an awesome user

Therefore we then established a list of services we wanted to provide to our users and every day we strive to think, design and integrate them into our product.

We have developed the first version of our product in one year and it is now fully operational. Nevertheless, we continue to constantly improve the software. We foster an open line of communication with our first users concerning the enhancement our product. New features are regularly released, following a goal we set for ourselves of deploying an upgraded version at least every two weeks. Each version will implement new functionalities visible by the user or improve the technical performance of our code (for example, making the product faster).

Taking all of our users into consideration

To properly design a product it’s necessary to spend time considering your main users and also any potential secondary users. So we looked at the ecosystem of an investment firm. Their ecosystem is largely composed of three key players : startups, LPs, and other investment firms.

After identifying the prominent participants, kept them in mind during the entire creative process. We discussed each role and to this day take LPs and startups into account: how can we improve and simplify the relationship and communication between the investment firm and them?

The whole team is involved in the creative process

If there is one thing that we want to instill in our team it is that the opinion of each member is important. 
This is why the entire team (development and management) takes part in the creative process. Each idea and all feedback is discussed during frequent team calls. Each member has his strengths. The product team will only be more successful if everyone is involved in each step of the improvement of our product. It’s my job to make sure that everyone feels included in the growth of Kushim. It is our belief that no one knows the absolute truth and any opinion can be challenged and expanded to build the best solution for our customers.

Prioritize

At Kushim, as in all startups, plans for long, middle and short term development are essential. A main focus of our team is to succeed in prioritizing each idea in order to respond to two objectives: developing the core of our product to perfection and to grow our company. The tricky part is to stay focused and not to end up with any excess features that are not completely relevant nor thoroughly designed. We’re particularly careful about the quality of our product.

Scaling

We are a startup. Our vision and our ambition leads us to go further and faster. Our aim for the next few weeks is to succeed in creating a scalable product. It is a notion that may seem contradictory to our “user-centric” vision, but is actually directly linked. Our goal is to allow a user to be able to use our product alone and easily so that it adapts to their personal needs. Making our user autonomous is our next target. It’s a challenge for our tech and design team, a goal that changes the way we think about our product. We can’t focus only on one or two specific user stories but rather we are thinking about as many potential problems and solutions that all of our users could face. We can’t predict everything, but we must be sure that our product can easily cover anything that may arise (tricky, isn’t it? ;)).

Take the iPhone as an example: instead of trying to think of all the applications that could be used with an iPhone, Apple created just one that allows community members to submit applications to the entire community: the AppStore. Thanks to that, everyone can create their own experience. Slack replicated the same model with all external integrations.

This is one way to make the user autonomous and make a scalable technology model.


Our product has been designed to significantly improve the simplicity of the Venture Capital world’s processes (reporting, tracking and portfolio management, performance monitoring, investor’s relationships with startup and the rest of his ecosystem, etc.)

Enabling investors to take a step back on their investments, enjoy an all-inclusive view and gain time to discover the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. At Kushim, this has been and always will be our goal.

Thanks for reading! 
Alexandre

To better understand what we do feel free to visit our website : http://kushim.vc/ and I’ll be more than happy to discuss with you if you have any question about our product and our vision.