Aloa was started while we were in college, on the premise that we believe in a world where anyone can innovate freely. As a team, we started our journey building out apps and doing tech consulting ourselves as students. We tried every approach there was to getting software developed, everything from using students, to domestic, to outsourcing. Ultimately, what we realized was that nobody is happy about the software development space.
Especially if you are a start-up, and a non-technical founder, you are really pinned against the wall in terms of the options available for you. We knew there was great talent around the world, but the process of obtaining that talent in a transparent, safe, and seamless manner just didn’t exist. We wanted to help others innovate freely, so rather than just providing a solution, we decided to understand the existing pain-points and work to solve those, ultimately achieving our solution.
We are a fully bootstrapped team, as our main focus is smart growth and innovation. We are less focused on the monetary return and care more about the tangible impact we are making for our clients. Running a business is hard, software development shouldn’t be.
Was it a lightbulb moment or a gradual process?
We validated our process, structure, and platform through iterations. It still isn’t perfect, and we recognize that. Through working with clients and gaining more experience in this space, we are able to better identify systemic headaches and pain-points that don’t make themselves obvious. We log these pain-points and study their foundational elements to better understand how we can prevent them. Our tools and processes should be making our client’s lives easier, so their feedback and sentiment is very valuable to us.
Ultimately, as we enter our third year with this business model and process, we are understanding and creating a standardized process for outsourcing software development. Through the power of our platform, the guidance of an Aloa Strategist, and the expertise of our Partner Firms whom we engage with, our clients feel confident that they are getting what they paid for.
Who is your target demographic?
We are focused on helping start-ups. As we were there before, we understand the struggle that start-ups go through to find the right software development engagement. If we reduce the barriers that currently exist to technology accessibility, we think pretty cool things will happen. With monthly development resources starting at $5,000 per month, and hourly starting at $40 per hour, we believe that we are able to help start-ups in ways that currently don’t exist. Plus, through access to our Partner Firms, Aloa Manage (our proprietary project management tool, built for outsourcing), Aloa Pay (our payment platform, allowing you to avoid foreign transaction fees), and a dedicated Aloa Strategist, we offer an experience with unparalleled respect and transparency. Most importantly, with our standardized development process we require all firms to follow, our clients have predictability built into their solution.
I think one of the funniest requests I’ve received was when someone called me asking if I could help her get into Facebook. Unfortunately, troubleshooting social media issues isn’t really our expertise!
Where did you meet your cofounder/founding team?
We actually all met in school. We are a five person co-founding team, which is a bit unique, but allows us opportunities that you wouldn’t get in a smaller team. When Aloa started off just doing tech consulting and building out apps, it was three of the five: Christian, Bryan & Dawei. When the team needed some greater technical help, Reece, one of Christian’s friends from high school, was recruited. I was the last member to join the team.
The beauty of our team is that we all are in love with the problem, not the solution. We know that people daily are struggling with finding efficient and cost effective software solutions. We’re all in it for the right reasons, to create a world where anyone can innovate freely, so it makes for an incredibly fun and exciting working environment.
In terms of finding first employees, look for the person, not the skills. You can teach anyone hard-skills, whereas some things, you simply cannot teach: passion, intrinsic motivation, integrity, etc.
What motivated you to start your own business?
My partners and I all came from entrepreneurial backgrounds through college. Aloa initially had over five different apps that we built out as a team, as well as worked on for clients. However, the driving force behind each engagement was the simple fact that we were having fun. There is so much opportunity out there and so many different cool things that you can do. Most will fail, but you’ve got to try and start somewhere, because one thing will continue to lead to another.
We stay motivated to build this business every day because we know we’re solving a real problem. As we enter our third year, we are on pace to surpass a fantastic milestone: 100 clients. We know we’re making a difference for our clients; we will continue to work to create that difference for as many people as possible.
Overall, people are pretty excited about us five running Aloa. The foundation of that excitement though truly stems from our own excitement to be doing something we are passionate about. At the end of the day, we’re excited for Mondays, eager to wake up in the morning, and do our part to help create a safer and seamless route to outsourcing software development.
What motivates you when things go wrong? What is the end goal?
Fall in love with the problem, not the solution. If you love the problem you are out to seek, then any barriers or obstacles in your way are seen as an exciting challenge, rather than a failed solution. Have a high-level, ambitious dream that you are set out to achieve. Ours? We believe in a world where anyone can innovate freely. Today, we still see software as a barrier to innovation for young companies and non technical founders, so we are motivated to keep fighting. If you truly want to make a difference in this world, and disrupt the status quo, then you are bound to face obstacles. So, take it as encouragement, that you are disrupting something.
What has driven the most sales?
In terms of our sales, we have generated almost all of our business through in-person or referrals. We haven’t taken on funding and aren’t looking for explosive growth, at the moment, because our true north isn’t revenue, but innovation. We are set on smart-growth, ensuring we maintain the integrity of our service and product as we grow, to truly change this space with meaningful impact.
How do you protect yourself from competition?
Don’t concern yourself with competition. It is great to see what others are up to, and it’s fantastic validation that you are in a market that has a need. However, you can’t let competition become your focus, otherwise you fall further from your mission. Competition will always be there. The best way to protect yourself? Stay excited and keep working. Anybody can steal your idea, nobody can steal your passion.
What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without?
Of course, we had to throw in two of our applications that are pivotal to our business. We wouldn’t be where we are if we didn’t have our tools and process. Aloa Manage, our proprietary project management tool has allowed us to manage and organize outsourced projects in ways that currently don’t exist, creating truly asynchronous collaborative workstreams. Secondly, Aloa Pay helps our clients easily pay for the service, allowing them to avoid foreign transaction fees, so it is pivotal to the client journey.
Slack is an incredible communication tool that we use internally and with clients. Notion is a fantastic note-taking platform that allows us to more easily organize our notes, playbooks, and more, and keep them collaborative. Airtable is a sleeker Excel, that allows us to visually organize and manage operational processes.
What are your favourite books and podcasts?
As a five person founding team, there are many books and podcasts that we listen to. At the end of the day, it’s all about finding one that speaks to you. There are so many great resources out there. Look for someone you admire, and read their book or listen to their podcast.
What are the next products you’re working on?
We are always working on Aloa Manage, our project management tool. We have many features and updates on the way, all of which we are really excited about! Unfortunately, we cannot speak to what those are here…you’ll just have to come work with us! We hope that as we grow and expand our business, we are not only helping a significantly greater number of businesses succeed, but that we become the gold standard of outsourcing. With our standardized development process we require all firms to follow, we want to become the industry standard for safe, cost-efficient, and seamless development. Running a business is hard, software development shouldn’t be.
|Founders:||David Pawlan, Christian, Bryan, Dawei, Reece|