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Entrepreneurship

Primary Founder, James Billson, Shares Insight On How to Build Better Software with Application Modelling

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James Billson has seen it all in the tech world. He started his first pizza delivery business at a time when Wi-Fi didn’t exist and orders had to be delivered by fax.

This business transformed into a software development outfit, and with it, he witnessed the rise and fall of tech in the early 2000s.

He made his grand exit with a sale to international advertising behemoth BBDO. He now runs Primary,  the result of his years of development service experience. In this article, he shares a simple agile technique for building better software.

Agile methodologies are here to stay. They have received widespread acceptance in the sphere of software development. An agile approach helps teams to work together as well as with their stakeholders.

Agile practices help development organizations focus on their individual end-users and the way they interact with products.

Actions speak louder than words, and in software that is part of the problem. In the Agile Manifesto, having  ‘working software’ is prioritized over compiling comprehensive documentation that exhaustively defines the product before development. Coincidentally, this manifesto was written by coders, and the universal belief of a coder is, if there is a problem, code it. If we extend the definition of ‘working software’ to include an application model, opportunities to work faster and more efficiently arise.

Introducing Application Modelling

Much like in manufacturing, product modelling can be used as an alternative route to effective application design. Modelling is the process of creating a simulation that gives insight into how the real product will function at the end of the development process.

There are many merits to this approach. First, it re-creates the full size and expanse of the product, in a holistic full-dimensional way that allows due consideration of all its facets. This way, it helps the team to understand the features of the product better and translate it into a design that the users can also comprehend. Finally, it presents all the necessary information in a light and vivid format rather than the dull and impenetrable nature of typical requirements documentation…

With a well-developed application model, there is direct access to the full scope required for the development process. It removes the likelihood of overlooking future steps and pathways by revealing the features of the future product.

Involving the Whole Team with Modelling

Modelling creates a unique environment for synergy among the UX team, the developers, and the product owners. A product model is an agile system that allows real-time creation and modification. All parties can raise potential concerns and create a matching solution as work progresses. In comparison to a ‘straight-to-code’ process where decisions are usually made during development, application modelling greatly saves time and team resources.

Telling Stories with User Flows

James Billson founded Primary.app to give developers an easy way to conduct product modelling. However, beyond simply using a tool, there must also be a systematic approach.

Developing a product model should be very much like telling a story. A story has a single important ingredient that allows its teller to connect with audiences. This is the narrative. To find this narrative, the development team must create user flows. A user flow is a series of steps that outlines the journey of the product user through the life cycle of the application. The user is the hero, and over each step, we see what they do, how they do it, and why they do it.

The narrative of the flow is the backbone to which you attach the details and conditions that will inform the different aspects of the product work. Once you have that overreaching structure in place, you can manipulate and modify details, creating different user scenarios and comparing end results. All of this can be done without making any grave changes to the main body of the model.

User flow models have another advantage in helping product managers to avoid the pitfall of ‘happy pathways’.These happy paths are easy and fun when you are looking at an engaging prototype that has all the characteristics of your minimum desirable feature set. However, the building process will reveal all the other less exciting processes that are needed to support these main functions, leading to a development lag and a generally uncoordinated process. A user flow-based model will highlight these necessary support functions and help you stay on top of them from the very beginning.

Modelling is The New Documentation

Comprehensive documentation fell out of favour because it became seen as a blocker to creativity. Development teams want the freedom to identify opportunities that arise from seeing the product in operation.  As decisions are made in development, the document becomes increasingly redundant. The long descriptive passages and confusing diagrams did not lend themselves to easy updating. 

Application modelling completely redefines all of this. It is a light system that can be edited and modified in real-time. The entire team can make input based on the progress to date and see those ideas implemented in the following sprints. The result is a clean and compact model that mirrors the reality of the developed application. 

Conclusion

At Primary.app, James and his team have created a system that allows users to build large application models that are easily modifiable and constantly under development. Models can be changed any time, in response to key drivers that affect the app functionality in real life. It is as easy as changing sheets or doing the dishes before heading out.

Application modelling is the future of software development. User flow-based models of your app can be created with minimal resources, and then used to engage product team members for maximum and meaningful output. What you get is a comprehensive system that can be modified and iterated to synchronize with your desired result perfectly.

I've always had a knack for storytelling! Hi there, I'm Chukwuma Agugbue. I'm a copywriter and, a blogger. I Interview individuals who've achieved some sort of success in their field- Actively building a knowledge base for Millenials

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Entrepreneurship

How Golden Cala Lensme create positive tidal waves in the Arab Market.

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Golden Cala the sole owner of Lensme, the contact lenses brand that was founded in 2013 and exploded in popularity through recent years, can now be found in 5000 points of sales.

Is Golden Cala’s success based solely on the genius of its marketing strategy, or the superiority of the products it caters?

Well, Golden Cala’s success should be attributed to both its marketing strategy where every billboard and influencer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia points the consumer to Golden Cala’s products, but let’s not forget that the Saudi consumer is not senseless and demands the best and top of the line products in quality, while demanding the latest trends. So Golden Cala’s genius is that it makes sure to market its products through most advertisement posts, while catering high-class quality products and brands.

How can companies earn the trust of their customers like Golden Cala did through Lensme?

The simple answer would be to cater the best products that it can through scouring the market for the best manufacturers that are certified internationally, and a renowned for their eye for details and quality. In addition to that through customer service, as Golden Cala has employed 200 beauty advisors in most of the points of sales that its products are available in, so customers can feel safe and appreciated while making their purchase.

Does Golden Cala look to expand, or is it content with the success that it has reached, as a small Saudi business?

Golden Cala is happy with the progress and the success that it has achieved in the short time that it has been in business for, but it sees that when it comes to success the sky is the limit, and will not be satisfied until it reaches a billion or two dollars in revenue, as it aspires to create and advance products and brands that will impact the region and the globe positively.

Remember to follow them on Instagram

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Business

Designing Smiles is This Dentist’s Passion; Dr. Matthew Kaiser

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Dr. Matthew Kasiar is a general dentist practicing in the Nashville, TN area. Designing smiles is his passion! And Dr. Kasiar has been fortunate to help many people transform their smiles including artists and celebrities. 

Currently, Dr. Kasiar uses virtual consults as a way to connect with potential patients all over the country. They are able to submit 2 pictures and within a week they receive a personal video consultation from Dr. Kasiar discussing treatment options and cost. Dr. Kasiar believes being transparent is the key. Patients want to know who they can trust, how long will it take, and how much it costs. He answers all those questions in the virtual consult. 

Kasiar has always been intrigued by the design process. Whether it’s designing something mechanical or a new smile, he loves the process!  

His path to dentistry was a unique one. Dr. Kasiar’s love for designing things led to becoming a Mechanical Engineer. He loved it, however he missed the people part of the job. That’s when Dr. Kasiar became intrigued with dentistry. It allowed him to design and also to have social interaction with patients and build relationships. “The feeling I get when a patient first sees their new smile is indescribable,” Dr. Kasiar says. “It is the most rewarding moment of the whole process.” 

Challenges of Entrepreneurship

According to Dr. Kasiar, the biggest challenge of entrepreneurship is deciding to take action on your dream. “There are a lot of great dreams and ideas out there that never make it to reality. Most often it’s because of a fear of failing. I say that because I was fearful too. But I knew I would always wonder ‘what if’ if I never tried,” Dr. Kasiar states. 

He also believes that having the right mindset is equally important. Dr. Kasiar believes that if you go into business with a negative attitude you will get negative results. However, he’s not saying that having a positive attitude will be enough. Problems will come up.  But it’s that positive mindset that will keep you motivated and focused to overcome them. 

Scaling a Business

Dr. Kasiar believes there are two things to keep in mind when scaling a business.

The first is to define your core customer. You want to find people who can use your service, and are willing to pay for it. You’ll then want to make sure they don’t start drama. And as a bonus, you’ll want to figure out if they are willing to refer other clients like themselves.

The second is to solve one major issue extremely well. Oftentimes, Dr. Kasiar notices that companies are selling anything to anyone without a real plan. He believes that if you want to grow a real business, you have to double down on solving one specific problem for a specific market. And if you can become an expert at that one thing you’ll be able to scale in that market because there’s likely more than enough customers in that niche. After all, the world is huge!

Standing Out From The Crowd

In order for his company to stand out from the crowd, Dr. Kasiar places huge emphasis on customer service. “I feel like the healthcare industry as a whole lacks quality customer service,” he says.

At his practice they don’t want patients to feel like an inconvenience instead of a patient. “We make each patient feel like they are the only one there. We are 100% focused on their needs and go above and beyond to exceed expectations. They aren’t just patients, they are our family” states Dr. Kasiar.

What Success Means to Dr. Kasiar

Dr. Kasiar believes that his biggest success has been his ability to give back to his community through free dental days. “We’ve been able to serve many people who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to receive treatment. It’s amazing to see all the competing doctors come together for a common cause and serve our community. It truly is a rewarding experience for everyone!”

As for his legacy, Dr. Kasiar wants to be known as the dentist to come to for a smile makeover. He seeks to build confidence for every patient he’s worked with so that they can be the best version of themselves. And he wants to be known for helping teach other dentists the art of designing smiles. 

Dr. Kasiar’s practice is located in Franklin, TN. If you would like to receive a virtual consult from Dr. Kasiar, visit his website!

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Business

From Fashion to Social Media, Marcello Lucky Razavi Has Seen It All

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Marcello Razavi, better known as Lucky Razavi, started with a background in fashion design. Having the previous experience of owning and operating seven different brands that have all been sold worldwide since 1996, he currently runs a company that specializes in social media management and content creations.

Marcello graduated out of high school in 1993. Right out of the gate, he set up shop and opened a clothing brand called Chochie Casuals which specialized in rockabilly apparel. Regardless of his early success, he still attended college and got a degree as a backup, incase the fashion world wasn’t his ideal industry.

Over the years, Marcello started a variety of other brands such as Spanish Harlem Industries, 187 INC Clothing, Meow Gang and Avenue Streetwear. Deciding to retire from the fashion world, and taking a break from the corporate world 2014, Razavi started DG Media & Entertainment Group just four years later. To date, his company handles an array of different digital media aspects. These range from brand awareness, all the way to social media growth. DG Media & Entertainment Group also manages celebrities to help them with the digital world, outside of what they do already in the real world pertaining to their celebrity status.

During his senior year of high school, Marcello attended a house party and ended up kissing a girl who was his best friend. The following day, his best friend officially stated the two were a couple. Macello responded, “DUI Baby”. She looked confused and he re-explained, “Dating Under the Influence”. Immediately, this excuse went viral around his campus, even though the term ‘viral’ didn’t really exist since it was pre social media.

As the local exposure of his quote continued to grow, Marcello capitalized on the hype and immediately began printing tee shirts and hats. He started to distribute these items to all the highschools in his district, with no shortage of consumers. At the age of just 17, Marcello realized his aptitude for fashion.

After high school, he attended post-secondary school while still creating clothing and selling it to friends and co-workers on the side. Marcello ended up designing a custom woman’s dress at the time- a new style that hadn’t been created previously -and got into a large woman’s chain store called Clothes Time and Contempo. “It was ironic being in college and having two full-time jobs as a waiter, while on the other hand my clothing brand was in one of the biggest chain stores in America. I don’t like getting comfortable and always make sure that I have plan B, plan C and plan D as backup in any business direction I plan to take,” says Marcello.

Starting in the fashion industry, Marcello had to fight for his spot to become a success. He gives the following advice when beginning; “You need to believe in yourself. It sounds cliche, but you need to understand some people make it overnight and others might take 10 years before they start seeing their dreams come true. Be open to take criticism, and at the same time not to allow anyone to shatter your dreams. I remember I would go to clothing stores to get my brand into them and some buyers were so rude. They would say ‘don’t quit school’, and ‘fashion stuff isn’t for you’. I surely proved them all wrong in time,” Marcello explains. Another important factor that led to his success was to be and stay humble. There was no shortage of that when he worked two full time jobs as a waiter. He always made sure his first job paid for both his clothing companies overhead and the other college classes he attended.

Mindset is also very important to this serial entrepreneur. Patience, believing in your service or product, and not focusing on the money are some core pillars of Marcello’s accomplishments. “Start a business to satisfy your dream job. I always say make a hobby your job. Then, when you work it doesn’t feel like work and more as happiness. And don’t forget to believe in yourself either! Being a CEO isn’t an easy journey. If it was, everyone in the world would be one,” Marcello says.

Having the experience of running a multitude of businesses, Marcello reflects on how to scale a business effectively. Find the business field you want to join and make sure it’s something you are passionate about. Always have at least two streams of income coming in, one to cover your lifestyle and bills, and the second to fund your new found business.

Studying your field of business and researching your competitors is also important, as it gives you an idea on what errors they’ve made in the past and an idea on how to not repeat them again on your own company. Always spend your money wisely, make sure you are not in debt, because when you’re in debt you might make or take higher risks, which stunts your growth.

In the fashion world, there are many competitors. Marcello entered it truthfully and honestly, only creating clothing that he would wear personally and or what he would find a woman attractive wearing, never bothering with trends or styles that he didn’t find interesting.

In the social media world that Marcello currently works in, he only works with celebrities who encourage a strong work ethic. “Brittanya is a prime example of that, as she never does anything she doesn’t believe in, and when she agrees to join a project or create content it’s always with full passion. I actually look up to her a lot, she truly has the mind of a hustler and feels that at times we had 48 hours in a day versus 24 because she loves to work so much,” says Marcello.

The majority of entrepreneurs run into many challenges when running a business, and Marcello is no exception to that statistic. His worst loss was losing millions back when websites were popular. Marcello had refused to make any e-commerce website, due to focusing so hard on not stepping on retailers toes.

Always having a massive following even since the MySpace day, he would always send traffic to realtors worldwide to get his 187 Inc merch. With the creation and popularity of Instagram, Marcello finally bounced back from this mistake, and made a website. “It exploded with sales that blew my mind. We would have random 50% off Instagram sales and gross $80,000+ sales on a weekend. So that was my biggest failure coming to the party late with an e-commerce store. I’ve always had that nitch of connecting with my followers for my clothing brands, always playing the middleman and sending them to retailers instead,” says Marcello. Keeping up to date with trends and always looking for something new is important to not only the success of a business, but also the long-term survival.

With these explosive numbers, Instagram changed Marcello’s life. “I started noticing how close of a connection I was building with my followers for my clothing brand,” says Marcello, “Then I realized- why don’t we just create a company that specializes in all fields of social media instead. From management, to content creation, to branding of people, services, and products”. And that led to the creation of DG Media & Entertainment Group.

Fully utilizing the power of social media, he’s currently in the process of creating a podcast, opening up a vegan restaurant and bakery, and lastly, making a vegan clothing brand. “It’s 2020; The future is vegan,” explains Marcello with a laugh.

Legacy is something that Marcello plans to leave behind with his journey. Not only as a business mogul, but also as a loving father and companion. He also intends to break the societal ‘norm’ of people’s first-glance judgements. “I’m referring to the old saying, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’,”  says Marcello. “I understand the way I look and I know people will judge me for that. ‘All authors are responsible for his/her own book cover’. I want to live by example versus just being all talk. So far I feel like I’ve been doing a great job.”

If there’s anything to learn from Marcello’s story, it’s to understand that owning and maintaining your own business isn’t easy. “You have employees- now family members -that depend on you. I say family members is because your employees are also a major part of your success and you need to take care of them. Having your own business is very stressful, you need to be mentally prepared to sacrifice holidays and other fun things until your business is fully functioning,” says Marcello. “Lastly, in my early years of having my business I would fantasize about working for someone and just coming into work and going out. Going home and being present in the moment. Unfortunately when you are self made that isn’t the case. You think of work 24/7, even in your dreams. So be ready to fully get yourself involved in whatever career path you decide to take and just get started.”

If you’re interested in keeping up with Marcello’s journey, take a look at his Instagram

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