lessons startups need to learn

Six startup lessons we learned this year

With deep roots and a long history in software development, the startup path we chose in 2017 continued its exciting journey. But behind every story of innovation are many years of hard work – with this one more eventful than others!

Lead by technology and an advancing market we learned to embrace our nuances. Read here how we redefined our processes to ensure that we still deliver what we truly set out to achieve. It’s difficult to consolidate our activities to a single blog post, but here goes!

Our new office

We kicked off the year in fantastic fashion with our new office. This highlighted the absolute necessity to have the team all in the same room. Whilst a decentralised workforce can work in some sectors; when creating a new system from scratch there is so much power in having that face-to-face discussion, especially when generating fresh ideas and innovation.


This seems pretty obvious, but communication is the absolute foundation to ensuring everyone is on the same wavelength. It is something that needs to be persistent. If it’s missing then it can cause a total misalignment of expectations. The caveat to this is that you must find the balance between too little/too much information (Goldilocks!) as that can skew the impact of the message you’re trying to convey. This is something that we aspire to continue to improve internally and with our customers.

Projects team

This year the Projects team was born to ensure that we push forward our planning and quality assurance at a suitable pace. The Projects team is made of Product Owner, Business Analysts, Project Managers, and Testers, who collectively top and tail the development process to ensure that what goes in is aligned with what comes out. This is also a major part of plotting the road-map to delivery and ensuring the day-to-day is moving harmoniously to achieve this.

Software Developers

Feedback cycle

Anyone who’s designed and developed software from scratch will tell you one of the most important parts of Quality Assurance is to ‘break’ things fast. So we called on our prized assets, our people, to test the zupaPlatform through an internal UAT (also known as dogfooding).

This crucial feedback heads straight back into development to keep refining the system in its live state. This also creates a template toward client led UAT, which we’re eager to begin, following our series of workshops between June and September this year.

Depth not breadth

Trying to do too much at once or spreading a team too thinly can lead to a lack of results and risks a drop-in morale. 2019 was a turning point as we retooled to deliver with conviction and teamwork, and redefined what is considered ambitious and even unnecessary at this stage.

From our days as solely Caternet, we have always had the philosophy to pick from the right, which should be done on all levels. This is the idea of finishing the work you have started and not starting something new. That being said, be prepared to mothball some personally favoured elements to push everyone forwards.

2020 in focus

With 2020 in sight (where did 2019 go?!), this is going to be an immense year for Zupa. All eyes are on the launchpad as we hold ourselves to the zupaPlatform MVP target for June 2020.

In addition, we are working hard to renew our ISO 9001 accreditation, hire more developers at all levels, nurture our fresh intake of graduates through our redesigned scheme, and of course, seek continuous improvement!

I will keep you posted here as and when events unfold relating to the zupaPlatform, and in case I don’t speak to you we wish you a lovely winter break and a successful New Year.

Ollie Brand is Head of Projects & Innovation at Zupa

Did you experience any of these challenges in 2019? Join us on twitter and tell us why!

To search for job openings at Zupa click here