About the podcast:
Designing Growth is the podcast that helps owners and founders create the business of their dreams by thinking critically about the most important and often most challenging aspect of growing an agency: client relationships.
In episode 1, Sam hosts solo to talk about the big problem each of the 3 Co-Founders of Motion.io faced during their time delivering over 20,000 design projects to clients and how their shared experience ignited a passion to create a software solution to this problem.
After providing this background information, Sam walks through the team’s process for deciding the key features and benefits of Motion.io; detailing how the team leveraged a combination of Jobs To Be Done Theory, interviews with potential customers, and user story mapping to make these descisions.
Finally, Sam talks about the features of Motion.io, explains why the team’s drive to build the best product possible led them to launch this podcast now, and discusses how you can become a founding customer of Motion.io.
Tell us what you think!
After listening to the episode, we’d love to hear from you.
Does Motion.io sound like something you would use? If not, why? Is it missing a feature you think it should have? What questions do you have?
Resources from the episode:
[Intro Audio Voice]
Welcome to Designing Growth. The podcast that helps owners and founders create the business of their dreams by thinking critically about the most important and often most challenging aspect of growing an agency, client relationships from first proposal to final delivery, the founding team of motion.io will share their own experiences alongside that of guests to help you market your services better, complete projects, faster and exceed client expectations at every step of the way.
Let’s get it moving.
[Intro Music Plays]
[Sam Started Speaking, Hosting Episode Solo]
What is up everyone? Very excited for this first episode of the designing growth podcast. My name is Samuel Bosky and I’m one of three co-founders [email protected], as well as our VP of marketing. I am recording this first episode solo, but within the next few episodes, you can also expect to hear from Zach and Perry, who are our other two co-founder.
Soon after that, we’ll be featuring a variety of expert guests and agency owners to share their own experiences. Talk about tips that led to their growth and ultimately leave you with takeaways for designing the business of your dreams. No matter what stage of business you are in throughout episodes on this show, we’ll be talking about a wide range of topics, marketing sales customer.
Process improvement, finance, hiring all sorts of stuff that can help you grow your business.
This first episode will be a little bit different from future releases, acting as both an introduction to this podcast, but also a introduction to the motion.io product, which is currently in development to start I’ll first provide some background on our founding teams, shared experiences, working in agencies and how these experiences led us to realize a big problem that ignited our passion to help agency owners launch grow and scale their businesses by creating a software solution.
Next, I’ll cover exactly what motion.io does and who it’s for and share a little bit about our approach for deciding on the key features and benefits of motion.io and how that approach led to a new philosophy for keeping projects moving.
So who are we and how did we get. I wanna start off with this, to give a backdrop for the show and just share a little bit about who we are. This won’t be super comprehensive. I do want Perry and Zach to come on and share their experiences in their words. But the long story short is that each of our three co-founders has experienced starting and growing digital agencies collectively our prior businesses delivered over 20,000 projects to clients for repair and.
The way that we were delivering those client projects was through a company called brighter vision to help illustrate what we were doing at brighter vision. I’ll give my own background working there. So I started at brighter vision in 2015 as a WordPress developer, brighter vision would eventually grow into a team of.
30 plus, and I would move on to a role as VP of sales and marketing. But at this time in 2015, we were focused on building websites for mental health professionals. And I was one of the people behind the scenes developing those websites. Perry was the founder of brighter vision. And in 2015 had recently discovered a niche that started to gain some traction after building a.
For his mother-in-law’s mental health practice down in Jacksonville, Florida. He discovered no good solutions for mental health therapists to get a high quality website built in a way that was affordable. Our solution was to provide a subscription based service where these practices could work one on one with a WordPress developer,
We would build the website. We would support the website and it wouldn’t break the bank. throughout that process. Especially in those early days, one of our most consistent problems was increasing client load while continuing to meet and exceed expectations. In other words, we had to figure out how to reduce the amount of stuck or delayed projects.
One of the biggest things that would hold us up and cause projects to get stuck is back and forth communication with clients that required extra phone calls that required long email chains that required a ton of additional. Clarification for things that would eventually seem like they were pretty easy to resolve.
And we were always looking for ways to reduce the amount of times that these things were happening. We wanted to produce an end product for the client that was spot on. To be what they wanted and was going to perform for them. But we knew that there was a way to get to this point faster. So by doing things like asking them for their design preferences, asking them how they see the brand identity, being more specific about questions, we would ask them to get feedback was really important to us.
The problem was the way that we would approach those. Was all through manual processes and it really limited our ability to grow and scale the business. Because every time we onboarded a certain amount of new clients, we knew we had to make an additional hire to continue to meet and exceed those client expectations.
We were investing a ton back into the business. So hiring at sometimes wasn’t always an option . We quickly started turning to software as a potential solution for this problem.
The issue with looking for software was that project management tools that were available at the time were all focused on internal use. They weren’t focused on this process of collaborating and communicating effectively with the client and really understanding what the client’s needs and wants were because of this.
We. Develop these Frankenstein solutions that were a combination of client management, project management software and communication tools. An internal design team would be using a project solution like Trello or Asana. And then we would be hooking that into a variety of website forms, internal tools, spreadsheets, you name it just to be able to get what we needed from clients to move their website design project forward.
not only was this expensive. Similar to the way that there’s so many streaming services. Now you can quickly have a $200 bill every month. If you’re trying to stay up to date on all of the latest shows, because we were using a big variety of tools to ultimately complete just one job, the various subscriptions we needed, and the cost started to stack up and more importantly, Aside from the expense, these Frankenstein solutions that we created by combining all of these tools into one only worked okay.
When they worked, they did the job, but the complicated tangle of automations applications, software and manual processes meant that things would often break leading to lost information, miscommunication, further project delays, and ultimately some pretty unhappy clients. So after brighter vision was require.
Perry. And I had both moved on and we started talking about the idea of a software solution. That would be what we wanted during our time at brighter vision.
When Zach joined in the conversation saying that he had identified the exact same problem. It was immediately like a light bulb went off and we were ready to seriously start talking about creating a piece of software that could solve it
Our earliest idea for motion.io was simply a way to help get clear and actionable feedback. And understand the needs of clients early on in the project. And to also give clients a sense of clarity, what was needed from them to avoid further project delays. This initial idea for motion.io was just a hunch.
And at that time we knew it was just a hunch. Well, the three of us had identified this problem together and thought we might know of a solution. We had to know if other agencies were facing that same problem of projects, getting stuck and not having the tools. They need to get them unstuck before ever talking about a single feature of motion.io.
We wanted to take a step back and. Say, what is the job that needs to be done to get projects unstuck? If that is the problem, our first step in the process might sound surprising, but it was actually reading a book together and doing an activity from this book that would help us prepare to start researching users.
The book we read was the jobs to be done playbook by Jim Cal. This book might sound familiar. You might have heard of jobs to be done theory before, but what this book does is refocuses jobs to be done theory in a way that is specific to product development and gives actionable steps to defining that job to be done.
We wanted to come to an agreement on what is the job. Some of our early ideas were gather the feedback you need. And complete projects on time, as well as keep projects moving within those jobs. There were a number of sub jobs that arose things like sharing a deliverable with a client, sending a client a message that you’ve revised a file and want them to either approve it or give additional feedback.
These sub jobs would then all roll up to those bigger jobs, like completing a client project on. We ultimately didn’t settle on just one job, but we did feel that we were really close and the job to be done was completing projects with clients. Once we understood this, we felt like it had what we needed to then move into user interviews.
Before we even started these user interviews, I will mention that. We still haven’t at this point, talked about a single feature, a single benefit of motion.io. So what we did was create a list of questions to start interviewing people. These were a variety of agency owners, project managers, advertising agencies, marketing agencies, freelancers, solo entrepreneurs.
We just wanted to talk to everybody we possibly could about their process. For completing client projects, we ended up interviewing 25 people who were super generous in sharing their time, their expertise, their insights with us. And we were able to walk away with some really phenomenal insights on not only what tools these folks were using, but where their processes got stuck.
We also asked them questions like if you could wave a magic wand and ultimately have all of your clients be happy, what is. The tool that enables you to do that. And what part of your process could be fixed to have happy clients? All of the time of our most impactful learnings from these interviews. One was that while project management tools work well for internal collaboration, such as task tracking and deadlines, they don’t help agencies with what really needs to be done.
For projects to move across the finish line. And that’s letting clients know where they stand, letting clients know what’s needed from them and giving them easy ways to do that. That doesn’t require them digging through endless email chains or hopping on another call just to get some simple information or some detailed feedback.
Another thing we heard in these interviews is if a project had a bad process that required a lot of back and forth, and there was a lot of additional clarification needed, it didn’t matter. If the client was happy with the end result, because the process of getting there was so miserable that it totally ruined that relationship.
We learned as well, that these relationships are incredibly powerful. These relationships are what generates referrals, repeat business for agencies that work with client retainers. If there’s a bad process, one time it could result in that client canceling their. What these insights allowed us to do is come to a point to where we said, if we can complete the job of improving client communication and collaboration, it’s going to help agencies get more done.
It’s going to result in consistent outcomes that meet and exceed expectations. What we did from here is then create a user story. Because we’re building an MVP of the product. We had to be really conscious about what features were most important because we can’t build everything all at once from day one.
Our goal is to have motion.io, expand into a platform that is comprehensive of all aspects of client work from initial proposal to billing, to time tracking all of. But at first, we need to really focus in on things that agencies don’t have right now causing these projects to get stuck. That was our focus of deciding that the initial features for motion.io.
So what I’m gonna do next is cover the features that we decided on by going over our pitch for motion.io. This is a way to get an inside look into the product that we are currently developing. And the reason I want to share it is in the hopes that you’ll let us know what you think. Tell us, is this something that you would use, is it missing some features that you really think it needs in order to be something that you and your team might adopt?
Because while we feel really good about the initial list of features and generally pretty confident about the product we’re building as a whole, we won’t know until we hear from potential users. So. What is motion.io at its core motion.io is a collaboration and communication hub. Instead of communication strewn across multiple systems, emails platforms.
We want to centralize everything, reducing miscommunication and preventing redundant conversation. The way that we’re gonna be able to do this. Is by having features that helps agencies get what they need from clients to keep projects moving. So this first big feature is our guided feedback system. What this is going to do is completely transform the way that you do feedback with clients, enabling it to be asynchronous, but also clear and actionable by getting these detailed insights and understanding truly understanding the needs of your.
What our guided feedback system will do is present designs alongside questions that you specify or select from a prestructured list. This is gonna prompt, focus, discussion around specific design elements so that you can get to that design approved. Faster and tools like this that exist. They’re not specific to this agency use case.
And that was a big thing that we discovered within these interviews. A lot of people were using zoom calls and they were taking manual notes. They were using Google docs and just saying, Hey, client comment on this wherever. And let me know your thoughts. Uh, there’s also things like bug herd, where. That use case is limited to specifically website projects.
What we want out of this guided feedback tool is something that can be adaptable, but also really specific to a certain file type or a specific file version that you’re sending, whether it is a logo file, whether it is a brand identity guideline. We want you to be able to have a targeted discussion around these things that you’re sending clients to.
The next part of this communication and collaboration hub is file management file management. We quickly learned was a huge pain point for agencies, especially those agencies that had multiple team members. Not only was it hard to communicate internally. Which version of a file had feedback, which ones still need to be edited.
What was the final version? But it was also really challenging for clients to access these files. For example, if they were a client that was using a Microsoft email and the agency was on Google, they might not be able to open that Google drive link without creating a separate Gmail address for that.
Not only that is the naming conventions could get confusing and messy sometimes where there was V one V two V five V seven. And it was really hard for both agencies and clients to keep track of, Hey, this is the most recent version. This is how we got here. The file management feature leads perfectly into our third feature of this communication and collaboration hub, which is decision tracking and design approved.
The reason for this feature is that we heard from our interviews that it’s really challenging to communicate to clients that an edit has been made. And making sure that they look at the most recent version that has all of the edits that has the feedback implemented into it, and know how you arrived at this final version saying things like per my last email, isn’t a great way to foster a good client relationship.
It ends with the client being put on the defensive when they might have simply just missed something or misunderstood something. We wanna remove that completely with this decision tracking. Design approved feature. So instead of getting lost in emails, motion dot, I will track and log deliverable feedback.
So you have a complete history and you can tell the story of those revisions decisions and edits that led up to the final version, getting approved and can reference back to that if you need to in doing so. It gives the client a total sense of clarity, establishing trust and preventing back and forth conversations that might lead to this project.
Getting stuck at some point, our last feature in the collaboration and communication hub is a client dashboard with tasks, automations, and a progress tracker that lets clients know where they stand and what’s needed from them at all times with this dashboard. Instead of having to chase clients down with phone calls and emails to get the feedback or content needed for a project motion.io will automate reminders to clients, providing them with visibility into what is needed from them.
Keeping them updated on the progress and making it easy for them to complete these tasks within one, very easy to use dashboard. So if a client doesn’t do something in a certain amount of time, they’ll be notified to complete X, Y, or Z to avoid a project delay or move your project onto this step. This will save a tremendous amount of time and ultimately result in happier clients who feel informed, who feel involved, part of the philosophy for what we’re doing.
This client dashboard is flipping the way that we work with clients on its head with the client dashboard. You’ll be asking a little bit more of your clients, but what the client will receive for doing, you know, 2% more work on the project is they will get a. Final result. They are blown away with that meets and exceeds their expectations at every step of the way.
And they’ll feel like they had complete clarity and were really involved with the project. Like they were heard in the creation of this work for them, so that client will leave happy and tell their friends, their family, their colleagues, about what. A great experience. It was working with you so that you can generate referrals and repeat business to wrap all of the features and the general approach of motion.io up into a final point.
Something that is super important to us is that motion.io is dead simple to set up and use. We heard throughout our interviews, that project management solutions, especially ones that have some sort of client interface require complicated setup. Or the need to change current processes within your own business with motion dot.
I, we don’t want to do that. We want this product to slide perfectly into your existing process and provide you the things that you need, whether you want to manage an entire project, or whether you want to use it for a single part of a project, like sharing a client file for feedback, with motion.io, you’ll be able to add a new client in seconds and it makes it easy to immediately start collaborating with that.
So why am I sharing all this? And more importantly, why are we starting this podcast? Now, what we wanna do with this podcast and through subsequent episodes is give potential users of motion.io like you and the audience listening now, a behind the scenes. Look, we want you to write it and tell us. How you might use the project and where your client projects get stuck.
So we can take these insights and use it to build a tool for you and a tool. That’s going to be valuable to everybody who uses it from day one. A second reason for starting this podcast now is we want to tell the story of motion.io from its earliest days in the hopes that sharing our process of growing this business from scratch will provide you takeaways that you can use in your own.
For example, even on the next episode, we’re gonna be talking a little bit about our process of building the brand of motion dot I. What content we decided on putting out and why we think that that content is something that can help drive our growth, create awareness for the product. And at the end of the day also support our C.
As we’ve gone through these early stages of building our company one of the things I found most helpful is hearing other people’s stories, shows like startups for the rest of us, the Saster podcast, how I built this have been my bread and butter the last couple months. And I thought it’d be cool to provide some of the same.
With that. I want to end by saying first. Thank you so much for tuning in. It’s been really fun recording this first episode and i’m really looking forward to future episodes of the designing growth podcast where we’ll be sharing tons of tips strategies takeaways for designing growth in your agency at every step of the way but also giving you a little bit of behind the scenes look at what’s going [email protected].
Speaking about what’s going on. Our launch list is officially live on our website. To sign up all you have to do is go to motion.io/launch list and enter your email
By joining the launch list, you’ll get weekly update emails with all of the content that we’re putting out. That’s gonna include blog posts, videos, episodes of the designing growth podcast. As well as product updates and behind the scenes information about what’s going on [email protected].
What you’ll also receive. And something I am personally most excited about? Our invitations to participate more actively in the development of motion.io that will allow you to become a founding customer. I’m really excited about our founding customer program. I think it’s something pretty unique and not something that I’ve seen a lot of other companies do.
The way that our founding customers program works. Is that through the launch list, we will occasionally send out request to give us feedback, to suggest new features, refer friends or colleagues, and even simply allow us to ask you a few questions about your agency and your process with clients. By helping us out with these requests, you’ll get the first chance to influence a product that solves your problems and is built for you and your needs. But even more. So it comes with some pretty sweet benefits.
Once you complete a certain number of these activities, you’ll become a founding customer of motion.io.
As a founding customer, you’ll get early access to the platform when it launches, but you’ll also unlock exclusive discounts, free swag, and get lifetime white glove support. Whether you’re interested in becoming a founding customer, want to learn more about motion.io as it develops, or simply want strategies, tips, and resources for growing your agency. The motion.io launch list is the place to be.
To sign up. All you have to do is go to motion.io/launch list. Once again, that’s emotion.io/launch list. And simply enter your email.
That concludes episode one of the Designing Growth podcast. I hope you’ll tune in next week we release every thursday on apple spotify and wherever else you get your podcasts.