November 26, 2020

Our story: let's get to work

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Our story: let's get to work

Lesson 1: build with a real customer and actual context in mind

The support of our community and the results of our crowdfunding gave us an unsupported bias, meaning that what we were about to build was the greatest thing ever and clients would be lining up. There was so much excitement around our whitepaper and specifically self-aware contracting mechanisms, that we thought the market was already there, ready for an innovative, way ahead of its time sort of product. However, the reality was different, when we met with potential clients, things started to change drastically, but regardless we focused on the implementation of the whitepaper. We built a contracts service with some rudimentary smart obligation pieces. While we validated this, we started to find out that this technology is almost impossible to implement in most places. The need for such technology would come from corporates handling loads of volume in contracts of high value. However, most IT infrastructure from big corporations (unless they are in tech) are very much comprised of legacy systems with different software stacks per department. Also, a huge amount of information was still on paper. There was a point where even our determination to build what we set out to do was challenged and looking in hindsight, it took too long for us to make the decision to develop a product suited to the needs of our customers and not to our idea of what they needed.

Lesson 2: slow down, don’t grow too fast!

We started out with around 5 remote and in-house developers, but the number started growing rapidly. Within few months our organisation had already 36 developers. This fast growth came with all the growing pains and challenges added to an inconclusive product-market fit.

Some of the great people working in Agrello (2018)
Some of the great people working in Agrello (2018)

Lesson 3: innovation is great, but how great?

Another problem was, that we built something very novel. Thus, all 36 developers had their own imagination on how to implement this. After year and a half of development, we ended up with nothing that would work in a stable environment and would offer value to manage business processes as we intended to develop.

Lesson 4: a chunk too big to bite, break it down in smaller chewable bits  

Bitcoin, in which most of our runway still was, started collapsing in 2018. The potential of running out of funds made us face the true facts. What we wanted to develop would take a massive amount of time and resources and we could never do it with 36 developers. The thought of running out of funds before any revenue was frightening, to say the least. We were just trying to bite too big of a piece at once.

All hands on deck

The call to action for us was to re-evaluate our options. Back to the drawing board and asking ourselves the why, what and how we do. The wind was blowing big changes and they were inevitable. At the end of 2018 we started restructuring. The most important aspect of that decision was to bring a small team together to develop the product from small increments of the big idea as presented in the whitepaper.

This was the wisest and most sound decision we made, we regained our focus and energy to build great products.


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