Pismo’s CEO, Ricardo Josua, was a featured guest at Latam Fintech CTO Fellowship, an Amazon Web Services (AWS) online event designed to provide a mentoring program to fintech CTOs in Latin America.
On 16 March, he joined a panel with fintech executives and Jordan Patapoff, Startup Solutions Architect at AWS, who coordinated the debate. They talked about how early-stage companies can successfully build and develop their product roadmap.
Flexibility is the key
When discussing the first steps to design a product roadmap, Ricardo remembered how he and the other co-founders planned product evolution at Pismo.
He says it’s essential to develop a structured plan when the company founders start contacting investors. It is also crucial that the project is flexible because things might change many times until the company consolidates in the market.
“We have to plan but do things flexibly. We had a roadmap, but we changed it several times in the early stage,” says Ricardo.
Hard, but exciting
The panelists also talked about the relevant tools and metrics to manage a product roadmap. Ricardo said that the early-stage entrepreneurs shouldn’t worry too much about tools. They should instead be pragmatic and use whatever tools they feel comfortable with.
“I think in the first years you have to be very pragmatic and acquire a clear vision because it becomes tough to get the work done through the first hurdles you will face,” explains Ricardo. “One of the great advantages of these early stages is that you don’t need a lot of processes because everyone is in the same room.”
He added that the early stages might be challenging, but they are also the most exciting. “At Pismo’s first office, we had a lot of post-its, cardboard, and stuff written by hand. We had a plastic window that we used as a drawing board. It was useful because we were trading ideas [and] testing them out.”
Dealing with feature requests
Once a company has its product roadmap established, CEOs and CTOs have to deal with feature requests that come from clients. How can a startup prioritise these requests?
According to Ricardo, it depends on the client’s profile, but drawing some lines should be a rule. He says it’s vital to establish trust with clients and listen to them. But, at the same time, you have to be careful with some requests.
“At Pismo, we never build custom code. The source is the same for everyone. You have to own everything you build. If you have a client looking for a solution, you have to ask if this request is something you would probably be able to offer to other customers. If so, this may be worthwhile developing, as long as you can keep the idea for your company”, he explains.
The last mile is always higher
Ricardo discussed the differences between an early-stage startup and a bigger company.
He said that at Pismo, everyone has a clear distinction between a prototype and an MVP. While a prototype is built to show the product idea to clients, the MVP should be the basis for a finished product.
“What I mean by this is that an MVP can have features that are not complete and do not cover all the cases. Things that you build preliminary or provisory but are functional you only replace when it breaks or is about to break”.
He also said he doesn’t believe every idea will be brilliant. Furthermore, startups might be fast-paced in their first steps. But, naturally, things slow down a bit with time.
“Most fintechs are very high profiled today. When you follow them, you see that they come up with a huge amount of stuff in the first year. But, when you look three years afterwards, they are advancing as much as the largest companies. They get slower because the
the last mile is always higher than the first base case.”
The Fintech CTO Fellowship
Latam Fintech CTO Fellowship is a closed event intended for fellows accepted into the AWS-led program. It consists of 1-hour weekly online sessions, including fireside chats, roundtables, networking, and technical office hours.
This cohort counts 120 fintech CTOs from more than ten countries in Latin America. All fellows are from seed-stage fintech startups. They will have the opportunity to learn from CTOs at top late-stage startups, like Pismo, topics from technical resources to management guidance.