How DECODE works with startups

10 min read
February 24, 2023

Creating a software product is hard. Especially for startups.

The constant pressure of having to show results to investors, combined with increasing labor costs and the need to ensure your employees’ happiness can wear anyone down.

Not to mention the money burning in front of your eyes.

So what should you do?

It’s simple.

Give your project to experts with a proven record of creating successful software products.

It doesn’t have to be us exactly. 

Pick any Croatia-based software engineering company with 87 employees with the address radnička 47, and a CEO with the initials M.S.

But seriously, here I’ll tell you why you should hire a software agency, why that agency should be DECODE, and then I’ll lead you through our software development process step by step.

Sounds good?

Let’s go.

Why Startups should work with a software agency

Here’s a brutal fact for you:

90% of startups fail. 

Here are some of the reasons why from this CB insights report:

  • Misunderstanding the market comes from not validating your idea and not testing it enough.
  • The team wasn’t right is due to a lack of experience in composing development teams. Or it could just be that you’ve neglected that part.For example, a lot of the time, in order to cut costs, startups hire predominantly junior developers. Match an inexperienced team with a complex project and disaster happens.
  • Poor product is similar. Neglecting quality will certainly come back at you once you release the product. No one wants to use a bad product.
  • High costs, especially in the western world are mostly because of high developer wages and renting expensive offices to accommodate them.

Of course, not all of the reasons startups fail can be solved by a software agency.

However, all those mentioned can.

DECODE’s methodical approach to product discovery will ensure your idea has a place in the market.

Dedicated teams we assign to your project will be carefully composed to match the skill set needed to make your product a reality.

When it comes to quality, our mids and seniors outnumber our juniors 3 to 1. Our team is filled with developers with 10+ years of software engineering experience.

decode seniors

Lastly, your costs will be greatly reduced by partnering with DECODE because we take care of the hiring and administrative roadblocks.

Hiring a team of software engineers is never just that. You need supportive personnel too. HR and office administration for example.

Not to mention the necessary meetings, such as performance reviews that are necessary to ensure employee happiness. 

So, that’s your “why” taken care of.

Let’s get to what the “how” of working with DECODE looks like.

Product discovery & design

Product discovery might be the most important phase in this whole process. This is where you’ll  actually research and decide whether or not your idea is worth it. 

When we’re done with that, we can move on to the design phase which is closely linked to the product discovery phase because of the wireframes and user flows that come out of it.

Take a look at the process in more detail.


Kickoff – Here we get to know you by interviewing key stakeholders from your startup. We’ll ask questions such as:

  • What are your business goals?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are the priority features of your app?
  • What problem will the app solve?
  • What goal will it help to achieve?
  • What are the common pain points of your target audience?
  • Do you have buyer personas defined?

This way we’ll get closer to understanding the market-fit for your app.

Research – We’ll use the info you’ve given us and expand on it by conducting our own research.

The activities will include: 

  • Exploratory domain research
  • Data gathering workshops
  • Competition analysis and market positioning
  • User research
  • Solution architecture research

Discovery workshops – Having gathered enough information it’s time to dig even deeper. 

In collaboration with you, we’ll nail down ideal user personas, product use cases, and core product functionalities.

Workshops will be structured to contain the following:

  • User personas
  • User journey mapping
  • Scoping and planning product volume
  • The context and use cases
  • MVP feature discussion and prioritization
  • Process mapping
  • Sketching user flows
  • Wireframing

Functionality and UX proposal – We’ll go over all of the research, assets and materials we’ve gathered throughout the former phases of discovery. Our compilation of conclusions, findings and deliverables will help us craft solutions both in the terms of UX and proposed features.

Mockups – We create non-interactive screens using your brand’s guidelines so that we can all better visualize what your product will look like.

UX/UI Design – After that, our designers will start doing their magic. The design will be consistent with your style and brand and informed by industry best practices. All of the screens we agreed on will be covered in this phase, with all UI elements, states, and animated transitions.

Your involvement 

Workshops & interviews – To achieve the best results, we’ll need you to be available both for kickoff interviews and discovery workshops.

Of course, we’re flexible and will work around your schedule to make this happen.

Roles involved

PO – They’re the link between you, and our development and design teams. Their main goal is to take all of the market and user research and turn it into feature ideas, all the while ensuring that the discovery process goes smoothly.

UX/UI designer – They lead the whole process. Their duties include:

  • Creating user journeys 
  • User flows
  • User personas
  • Leading discovery workshops
  • Wireframing 
  • Creating UX/UI design

Software architect – They’re an expert in all things software with years of experience in developing and planning. All ideas will go through them in order to check if they can actually be made.

Proposing technical solutions for ideas that are feasible is their specialty, as they’ll make sure to plan out the right tech stack for that.

Their main goals are:

  • Proposing software components
  • Proposing 3rd party services
  • Proposing scalability solutions
  • Thinking about new features and growth


  • Product scope
  • Functionality prioritization
  • Design plan
  • User journeys
  • Software architecture proposal
  • Design plan
  • User journeys
  • User flows
  • Wireframes
  • UI/UX design

Want to know more about product discovery?
We have plenty of article on that matter.

All product discovery articles →

Software development

Here we get into the real thing. Software development. It’s what we do best.

DECODE utilizes the SCRUM agile methodology because it has been proven the most effective for us and our clients.

Important: Quality assurance is a crucial part of software development and QA engineers are an integral part of the development process.

Have a look at what our process is like.

SCRUM agile methodology

Scrum methodology

Backlog – Before starting the project we need to make sure all team members are on the same page. Here we break down complex features into manageable tasks that can be shared across the team.

Sprint planning – When the backlog is done, we can start planning out sprints. This means deciding which tasks to deliver during a set period of time. For us, sprints usually take 2 weeks, but depending on the project size and complexity we can adjust.

Development – The actual work begins. Our development philosophy is based on agility and continuous delivery, so we aim to automize everything. It’s important to note that quality assurance is happening parallel to development.

Sprint refinement  – Often in the middle of a sprint circumstances can change. Maybe we decide that something new needs to be added to the sprint, or we realized some tasks need to go over to the next sprint.

Sprint review – At the end of a sprint we take a look at what was done, what adjustments need to be made, and which tasks need to overflow into the next sprint.

Sprint retrospective – For the sake of efficiency, we often merge this meeting with sprint review. The purpose of a retrospective is to take a look at ourselves and see where we can do better, Do we need to improve our processes? Do we need new tools? That way we constantly improve.

Roles involved

Our teams are carefully composed to have the right amount of seniority so it can be matched with the complexity of your project. 

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Software engineers – They’re the stars of the show in this phase. They’re responsible for developing and releasing product increments in agreed upon periods. 

QA engineers – Their job is to ensure consistent high quality of the product. Their activities include:

  • functional verification
  • integration testing
  • system testing 
  • user testing
  • Unit testing

Project manager/ Scrum master – Manages the backlog and writes user stories and acceptance criteria. Also responsible for prioritizing tasks and planning sprints.

Your involvement 

Meetings – It’s our preference to have daily meetings with our clients in order to remain on the same page. Also, one of our principles is that it’s better to overcommunicate than under-communicate.

Subject matter expertise – Whether your product is in the banking or agricultural industry, we’re going to need one of your experts to guide our team with their knowledge of the niche in question.


  • Functioning MVP 
  • Source code
  • CI/CD automation scripts
  • Test automation scripts 
  • Documentation: user, software, test, code

Want to know more about developing an MVP?
We have plenty of article on that matter.

All articles around creating an MVP →

Continuous product improvement

Creating an MVP isn’t even half the battle won. More like 25%. 

Your good product is made great by carefully listening to your users, analyzing their feedback and solving their problems in the form of new features.

Here’s how that process looks with us.


Analytics tools implementation – We use all tools at our disposal and implement them into your product in order to analyze feedback.

We use tools such as:

  • App center
  •  Mixpanel
  • Google Analytics
  • Canny
  • Heap

Analyzing user feedback

When we’ve gathered enough user data, it’s time to analyze it, and prioritize feedback.

For example, a feature we implemented in the MVP is rarely being used by users. That could give us enough reason to scratch that feature altogether.

On the other hand, user feedback can give us insight into which features users might like to come next, and what improvements are needed.

Mobile app heatmap

Implementing new versions – When our analysis of feedback is done we start a quick iteration cycle to constantly create new features for your software product and improve it by result.

These cycles are repeatable for as long as you’ll use our services.

Maintenance– This includes updating dependencies and seeing if new OS versions break any features.

Roles involved

All roles involved in previous phases will be involved here. 

That means:

  • PO
  • Software development team
  • UX/UI designers


  • Analytics tools implementation
  • User feedback analysis 
  • New features


Let’s summarize.

Why you should work with DECODE:

  • No hiring headaches
  • Easy scalability
  • Expertise in all mobile & web technologies
  • No costs of keeping a development team and supportive teams such as HR

Our process:

  • Discovery & Design
  • Software development
  • Continuous product improvement

Sounds simple? That’s because we make it that way.

Interested? Let’s talk.

Written by

Ivan Marinac

Content specialist

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