So Ashley, Jesse, and I have launched an agency called Rocket Insights. We’re excited about it. We officially started on May 4, 2015 but you could almost say we have been ramping up psychologically all this year. Our focus is designing and building web and mobile applications. We’re already working on several products, building an awesome team, meeting some great people working on amazing things, and we couldn’t be more excited about our future.

As part of this we’re getting a ton of questions from clients, friends, mentors, and other folks in the industry. What better place to answer these things than on a blog? The first question we’re getting is:

How is Rocket different?

We’ve thought about this question a lot. It’s our main marketing challenge. For us it comes down to several things:

  • Product-focused. We design and deliver fully-realized products, not just parts of them. We don’t do just design or just development or just research. We have expertise building products from start to finish and we believe there are enormous benefits for a team that does all of them together/holistically. For our engagements we typically create a small, highly powered product team that can jump into any situation at nearly full speed.
  • Technology-agnostic. We are not a “rails house” or a “node house”. We have extensive experience with and currently use those technologies, but we’ve found that focusing on the end goal is a better way to determine what technology to use. We’ll use the technology that is most appropriate for the job.
  • User-experience comes first. There is a lot of software in the world and most of it isn’t easy or pleasurable to use. We focus on the user experience first and foremost because there is huge leverage in software that people actually enjoy using. That means we’re constantly testing and making sure that our design solution is usable and friendly. This doesn’t just mean it looks good (although we strive for that too) it means that people actually use it and get value from it.
  • Startup experience. We’re already seeing a real benefit when talking with clients about this. We have a lot of experience doing startups. Many companies want to try new product ideas that haven’t yet been proven. Our experience in startups lets us help them plan design and development in a really lean way, both on the strategy and execution side. We’ve been there and not only understand the pressure, we like it.
  • Ability to execute. Our years working in pre-IPO companies here in Boston really conditioned us to execute methodically and we see that as a real advantage now as we work with teams of all shapes and sizes. Some teams have too many politics to move quickly. Some teams don’t have all the skills they need. Some teams don’t have a clear product focus. We have repeatedly executed over many years and are comfortable driving a ship forward in almost any weather. It’s what we love to do.

A second question we’re getting a lot is “Why would you leave successful, exciting companies like Circle and HubSpot to start a risky agency?” Also a great question:

  • We want to build. Our time at those companies was amazing and we’re extremely grateful to have worked there. Over time, however, those companies grew bigger and their products more sophisticated and our jobs changed into more management of things and people. That’s fine, we actually enjoy managing a lot, and all three of us have built design and development teams in our respective careers. But at the end of the day we love to build and want to always be building. Starting Rocket Insights puts us in a great position to do that.
  • It’s our business. While we certainly flew the flag proudly at the companies where we’ve worked, there is definitely something special about owning your own business. The business itself is a product we’re always working on. It’s empowering to own your own business and figure out how to succeed...it’s like a giant puzzle we get to work on every day. Best of all: it’s fun.
  • We see a real opportunity in the market. Agencies tend to be big and bloated and charge 2-3 times more than is necessary. We’re already seeing this every day...competing with agencies who talk about deliverables that customers just don’t need. It is easy to sell more, but what about selling less? What about only selling exactly what is necessary to get the job done well? We think we can do it...indeed we already are.

Our goal with this blog is to share more stuff like this...we’re getting questions constantly and we want to share our experiences if it can be helpful to others in the field (or interesting to potential clients). We also want to just give a sense of what we’re like to work with and what we’re focusing on. Look for posts on product design and development topics, our observations of the tech industry and products within it, as well as a chronicle of our experience as Rocket Insights continues toward the stratosphere. (there is no end to the wordplay we can use around rockets. :) You can check out the types of clients we're working with on Our Work page.

Finally, and most importantly, we want to thank our friends and family who have been awesome support through all of this. It’s scary and exciting at the same time! Your enthusiasm is infectious and keeps us going. Onward and upward!