From A Napkin Doodle to 40k Downloads in 2 Months
Berkah is a lifestyle app for Indonesian moderate muslim to help them conduct their religious activities. The product’s mission is to consistently portray Islam in Indonesia that is welcoming, tolerant, and sees itself as blessing to all mankind.
The Beginning: Research & Ideation
Forming the Team
Indonesia is a home to 250Million+ people, but good tech and design talents are hard to come by. Also, good talents can be too expensive for early stage startup to acquire.
In Agency of Things, we believe that good things should always be shared, only then it becomes better, same goes with talents. We then started to assemble our product and acquisition team consisting of 15 individuals from 6 different digital companies, 4 of which are unicorns.
These multidisciplinary individuals we call “collaborators” have the complementing expertise for end-to-end product development. They have strategic involvement in the product, and their responsibility is to pass on their knowledge to the founders and in-house team.
Good things should always be shared, only then it becomes better
Deciding on Features
It took us 3 days to assemble the complete team, however, we only had 1.5 months to release a stable product, and we had no clear product blueprint. What we had is over 30 list of features written on the back of a restaurant food bill, the Berkah founding team gave us.
With all the urgency, we had no time to conduct proper exploratory user research to decide on the features. So we relied on our “moslem and practicing” collaborators to validate all the initial assumptions.
3 hours later, we had a development blueprint for 6 months to come, divided into 5 development phases. And for the first phase, we and the founding team agreed on 10 full featured modules.
Prototype and Test
Once we had a rudimentary blueprint, we proceeded to actually build the first version of the product.
We had also 5 weeks left to launch date. So while everyone’s glued to their drawing board, acquisition team started scouting for channel partners, and collecting market feedback on any iterations we had at hand.
Design and Build
For Berkah, it seemed to us that the Prototyping/Testing and Design/Build processes were very much intertwined, as we had short iterations and everything was done in parallel.
Once a wireframe for certain feature was ready to test, in a matter of hours, our community partners were able to give us dozens of input from multiple potential users. It then took another few hours for our design team to work on the high-fidelity version of the prototype.
A typical iteration for a module from lo-fi wireframe to a working version in Testflight (or beta release for Android) took 3-4 days.
What we find interesting is that we spent 80% of our time working remotely from each other, at some point even within different timezones. The other 20% time we spent together, were usually in a form of casual dinner or lunch, in which we mostly just enjoyed the food and each other’s company.
To be extremely efficient, every actions were done in parallel to each other.
Launching: Getting People to Use It
A week shy from the release date, we had a 97% working app. So we moved on to the less technical aspects.
From the beginning, we assumed that the best way to fuel growth is to find the right catalyst, and in our case, this was achieved through channel partners. So we decided to put this assumption to test.
Our acquisition team focused on engaging with these potential channel partners and communities since day one. The intimate relationship with the partners proved to be invaluable for us, as it led to content material contribution and product feedback on every iterations.
As a result, getting a critical mass for our first launch wasn’t a big deal for the acquisition team.
Over 50K downloads and 4k+ DAU within its first 3 months of launch was a very satisfying result for us. More importantly, we tested our collaborative model and learnt a great deal of lesson that improve our collaborative methods.
Our collaborative method makes it possible for early-stage startup to access unicorn-quality talents, which helps to efficiently develop MVP, with a very strict time and financial constraints. It couldn’t have been done as effectively had Berkah decided to do all the development in-house, considering the longer lead-time to do all the hiring process.
As all the involved collaborators have mid to senior level skillset, they are experienced in collaborating within high-stress working condition and strict deadline.
Our acquisition team managed to systematically and efficiently engage various channel partners, weed out the low performing ones, and keep CAC at a minimum. This proved to be life-saving, when as an MVP, you aim to reach significant user base within a short period of time.