What Silicon Valley Has Taught Us About Startups

Glory Days

It seems the days of capital fueled ‘unicorns’ unapologetically dancing around Silicon Valley are starting to come to an end. 2015 and the beginning of the new year have provided the tech industry with its fair share of surprises. The effects of mass overvaluation of companies are starting to show in some of the most prominent players in the Valley.

Q1 of 2015 LinkedIn’s and Twitter shares dropped by 20% citing a weak future outlook. Fast forward to February of 2016 and LinkedIn shares again tumbled 43% shedding $11 Billion in value on the companies worst day ever. Even the mighty Silicon Valley is not exempt from the looming tech correction.

Every other day there is a new company valued at over $1 billion. Seemingly they give their products away for free, or their subscription models are obnoxiously structured or atrociously overpriced. Even VC giant Fidelity silently wrote down the value of Snapchat and Dropbox at the end of last year. Contrary to popular belief, as we transition into 2016, it would seem there is a realization that HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ Russ Hanneman No Revenue theory may not be as effective as previously thought!

A Different Taste

We really do live in a world where there is nearly an app for everything.  The startup and enterprise worlds have been dominated by software-only based applications and infrastructures for years. Kickstarter and Indiegogo were full of aspiring developers trying to make it big with the next version of Mine Craft or Twitter. Although, a developer and investor focus has been shifting towards integrating hardware with new and pre-existing applications and infrastructure.

As micro-controllers and the price of manufacturing come down in price, the Android/iOS app stores have become more saturated with the same apps packaged in ten different ways. Interest is starting to shift focus to the next new era or unsaturated market of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Kickstarter and Indiegogo are full with hobbyist and enthusiast grade projects in which people are buying Raspberry Pi’s and automating anything and everything to simplify their life and potentially parlay their inventions into a viable business.

Smart ovens, smart fridges, smart toilets, and the list goes on and on. If it’s in your house and you can somehow control it with your phone or laptop, you can be guaranteed there is someone out there trying to make it smart with machine learning! It is just a matter of time until we have smart homes that integrate seamlessly with our smartphones.

Looking at tech trends moving forward from 2016 and beyond, it seems that almost all the major players are making some form of wearable or usable device. Products like Microsoft’s HoloLens, Google Glass, Oculus Rift, brain wave technologies like Muse, the smartwatch and Fitbit movement, 3D printers, smart cars, drones, the list is endless of all the amazing technologies in the consumer market.

The writing is on the wall. There won’t be another Facebook, Google+ showed us that. The fact of the matter is, for many applications, market penetration is challenging and comparable to bringing a knife to a gun fight. It is this saturation which is potentially fostering and worsening the looming tech bubble. As room for investors to make large returns on applications or services dwindles, the fight for a sliver of the pie becomes worthless, leaving investors to look for a new and exciting sliver of the pie to taste.

Now more than ever it will be important to not only be sure that your prospective app ideas are validated but that those ideas will be differentiated to compete and have legs in an already dominated market. Asking yourself some of the following questions may be a good way to measure your idea’s validity.

  • Who is your user base or target audience?
  • How have others attempted to solve this problem before, and why did their solutions fail or succeed?
  • Who are your potential competitors? Are there specific benefits for your product over the competition?
  • Does your idea already exist in the same way you were going to execute it?
  • SWOT Analysis?
  • Why will investors invest? What’s their ROI?

Bringing an app to fruition can be an overwhelming experience, especially if access to labour and resources are limited. Our talented team at Uppercut can ease you and your company in the process of researching and understanding your markets, assist in identifying target demographics and ultimately evaluate if your ideas fit into the competitive world of tech startups. If they do fit! Be sure to check out The Importance of Good Design in Apps and how our team can bring your ideas to reality. 

We’ve got the digital chops to get you there. Uppercut has helped plenty of clients with market intelligence, defining target audiences (personas), launching apps and getting momentum with user acquisition through well tuned digital marketing (SEO, Advertising, Social, Content).


How Does a New Agency Brag About Nothing?

Challenge: You’re who and what?

There are many challenges when you start an agency and one of them is, what do you show on your website? We have a highly experienced team (most of us have been in the industry for 15+ years) and have worked with Veer & Corbis, Mercedes-Benz, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Dell, and more but when you’re brand spanking new, you still have to prove yourself. How can we convince prospective clients that we have the SKILLZ to pull it off?

Solution: Show some personality

Come up with a fun idea and designed the sh*t out of it. We had this idea of a manifesto. Let’s show off our abilities: great design, copywriting, and programming. The site garnered a lot of attention and in our first year of operation, the Uppercut brand won two Anvil awards for best website and logo.

Why change something that got us noticed? As we grow, we need a better responsive site for mobile viewing and we have something to talk about, like our work!

It’s fun to be mysterious but at the same time, it’s nice to have an online showcase of all we’ve accomplished over the past three years.

Uppercut's original one page website.

Mobile users lead the way.

Mobile Leads The Way

Mobile leads the way with the latest data, more people are spending more time on their mobile devices versus desktop, and apps are driving the majority of activity. Mobile is defined by handheld devices which include smartphones, e-readers and tablets.

47% of all Internet traffic comes from apps

80% of media time is spent in apps

66% of all email is opened on phones

[source: Adobe]

Are you providing a good mobile experience for your audience?

It’s what your customers are expecting. Your website should be responsive which means it looks good on a variety of devices and window or screen sizes by sizing and shifting the content and images depending on the display format. If you’re building a brand new website, make sure the team you’re working is solving the user experience on both desktop and mobile. If your site is not responsive, it’s the time to start thinking of building a website that is. It’s easier to build a new responsive website with better frameworks and techniques available. If you’re wanting to rework your existing site, it’s doable but keep in mind, the cost will depend on how much rework versus rebuild is required.

Mobile experience is different

A huge consideration in crafting the mobile experience is the touch-based screen (tap, swipe, type). You have to think about the user interface working differently on mobile because users having different sized fingers and thumbs. You have to think about scale because your screen size is a lot smaller than on a desktop or laptop computer. Does your content stay the same or does it need to be shortened for mobile? Images display differently on mobile devices because many smartphones have very high-resolution screens, so keep that in mind when you’re getting new photography or getting photo assets to your web design and development team.

A mobile app makes sense

In some business cases, it’s smarter to build a mobile app because of the problem you’re trying to solve. If your product or service requires a lot of input from your customers, it can be a huge challenge to make it easy to use and look nice in a web browser on a mobile phone. Scrolling on a desktop or laptop computer is not difficult because of the widescreen but scrolling on a mobile phone can feel too long (like it never ends!) If your customers frequently visit your website, perhaps building a mobile app is a better way to service your customers. For example, booking a room or property is complex process from shopping to booking where a lot of information needs to be displayed. Which is why many travel and rental companies like Expedia and Airbnb will have a responsive website and mobile app. A mobile app allows you to create a tailored experience.

If you need help with improving your website for mobile or wondering if you should build a mobile help, contact us and let’s chat!

Let's Spark Something

Let’s spark something together. We created a short video for CAMP Festival 2015. CAMP Festival celebrates creative technology, art and design. This short video was created by our talented art director, Dan Parry.

Hungry Volcano logo by Uppercut

Hatari Part 2: Putting a face to the name

This is the second in a series of posts that let you behind the curtain to see what we do for our clients, from branding to e-commerce, and beyond. Many thanks to our friends at Hatari for letting us share their client story with you.

Having a name like Hungry Volcano kick off a new identity is exciting. And having visuals of sweaty, sacrificial sauciness flying about is pretty fun but the first thing we do with a new a visual identity is competitor analysis.

What do these other brands look like? Turns out they’re mostly outdated and there’s a lot of direct spicy references, so it’s a favourable landscape where Hungry Volcano can stand apart from the rest.unnamed-3


Next, what is this brand about – well the name says it all, it’s food related, it’s bursting with hunger and it’s got an island slant to it…so we take a look at things to inspire.


Next, we do some sketches to explore the possibilities.


The result

Then we get into vector work, get team feedback to make sure we’re on the right track, and then review/edit/repeat as needed until we end up with something we’re excited to show the client. If all goes well, a client will love what they see. And in this case, they totally did.


So that’s how the visual identity came together! Now we’re on to designing the new e-commerce website.