Melltoo Remote Work Culture Help Its Women Employees Thrive in Their Jobs

Work experiences differ between different employees even as they execute the same tasks sometimes. I have worked at Melltoo for the past three years where I have seen the exponential expansion of our team from 3 people to 25 employees working in several departments: delivery operations, customer success, marketing, product development and quality assurance.

I often have conversations with my university friends in Tunisia about how work means different things to different people. All of us, males and females, do agree that work experiences are influenced by gender and sometimes class at least in Tunisia. I have seen many young job seekers in Tunisia, often females, be constrained by distance and poor transportation infrastructure when accepting a job or trying to perform well at a job. This is not unheard of in th region. Remote work allows me to be productive anywhere as long I’m dead focused on deliverables that matter.

I have been interested in everyone’s experience at Melltoo for some time. We first published a piece about working remotely and then another piece about collaboration while working around a remote work business models. Now, I want to explore the experiences of our female employees in our own unique “workplace.”

Four women in our team hold central roles chiefly our co-founder and COO, Sharene Lee, who manages the team. Asiya Shakirova, a startup veteran who worked with several UAE incubators, manages our brand online and our partners programme. Yesmin Choutri, Melltoo’s illustrator, is the skilled artist behind Melltoo’s visual branding (on the app, blog and YouTube). Heba is a customer service agent who had been with the team for over a year. Without them, we can’t do our work properly; and just like everyone, Sharene, Asiya and Yesmin, and Heba benefit from working remotely.

I spoke to them privately about their remote experience at Melltoo and what it means to them in their own words as professionals, parents and humans.

Sharene, Asiya, Yesmin and Heba represent different demographic segments that are now the new normal for innovative tech companies. Sharene and Asiya are both momprenreurs who manage both a dynamic career and a growing family. Yesmin and Heba are at the start of their careers, managing different operations. Yesmin executes her tasks skillfully while enjoying a fulfilling work-life balance. Heba speaks to our customers on a regular basis and is in charge of the regular user education cycle about our brand and our operations.

It is not often easy to lead a career in tech as female. Even Sheryl Sandberg, former COO at Facebook, still can’t make up her mind whether it is just enough to “lean in” or if the odds are just stacked against women. According to Pew Research Center, as many as 51% of working mothers in the US say they find it hard to advance their careers. This is the result of archaic work environments that require lengthy hours of work and physical presence in an office to get things done. Nearly half of working mothers would have to interrupt their careers at some point for family reasons.

When Sharene started Melltoo, she did not envision remote work as a possibility but as more people joined and proved able to work effectively by themselves, the choice has become more and more obvious. It was rather economically smarter for the young team to continue to work remotely, spend less on overhead and more on acquisition and user experience.

I asked Sharene about her relationship with work and her family whom I often hear on the other end of every other call. Family is important to me as work is.

“Being close to home and able to respond to my children’s needs allows me to focus better on my work. I know I’m not missing anything and I don’t feel a need to overcompensate after work,” she tells me.

“I think the most positive thing about working from home is being able to share what I do with my kids. Growing up, I don’t think I had a clue what my parents’ jobs were like. However, my kids do look over my shoulder, they overhear me in meetings, they are sounding boards for new ideas, they are beta testers and they are able to participate in my work life in ways that wouldn’t be possible if I were working from an office, she adds.

Because of societal expectations, women have to stop their careers when they become mothers to take care of their newborns. This interruption often puts a lid on women’s career advancement and pay expectations compared to men. It’s referred to as the “glass ceiling” – an invisible barrier that hold women back compared to men. This is also one of the strong reasons some countries are considering allowing working fathers to take some time off to take care of their families.

Asiya Shakirova is also a Melltoo mom. She joined the Melltoo team shortly after the birth of her second child. I asked her the same question about managing work and managing a family.

“When I first time heard about remote job, I really wanted it. When I left my last job because I was pregnant with second child, I realized, how much time and effort I was spending in office. I didn’t want to work like this anymore. So, when I received an offer from Morrad (our CEO), I thought this is the perfect job style for mom,” she wrote me.

Asiya had to hire other people to take care of her family when she had an office job back in Russia before, but she doesn’t see the need to today.

Yesmin Choutri, our illustrator from Germany, joined Melltoo not only as her first remote experience, but also as her first work experience. Yesmin is only going to university this year. Talent has no boundaries or age.

Yesmin and I now speak more frequently when creating illustrations that match our content and engagement campaign visuals.

“Melltoo team is like a family, everyone is kind, respectful, friendly and always there to help anyone. Sharene invited me to join Melltoo even though I knew nothing of graphic design but she believed in in my potential for art and I accepted the challenge. I taught myself and learned how to use Photoshop, illustrator, create graphics, GIFs and videos,” she wrote me on Slack.

The friendly environment around our virtual office often makes it easier when new members of the team join our operations. Melltoo has a very low employee turnover with 90-plus percent of employees having worked with us for at least a year. The level of friendly communication encourages more people to participate regardless of their personal character if they are introvert or extrovert. There are no physical meetings where some people may want to assert themselves physically in the room or shout more to fill an empty space to impose their opinions (me by fault of my height and deep voice). All voices that go through the microphone are equal, men and women. Yesmin, who is a shy millennial, has enough room to suggest edits and opinios of her own to her work freely without any friction.

Heba Mahmoud, our customer service agent, challenged her own expectations with regards to remote work. Living in El Minya in Egypt, a city in Upper Egypt dominated by the agriculture sector, Heba had her own preconceptions when asked to join the customer service team.

“I haven’t expected to love the remote work or that I’ll enjoy the work behind a screen and to sit for 8 hours without feeling bored,” she says.

It is best said that Heba surmounted these fears. She has been with the team for over a year. She is a valuable member of the transactions management team.

A remote job in Heba’s case does not only allow for time flexibility, but is also a gainful job opportunity that offers income stability and upward mobility to young professionals in the Middle East. The state of youth unemployment in Egypt and the vast Middle East region remains staggerly high (~30%) and jobs are scarce.

When given flexibility, our female employees have encountered fewer obstacles to give their 100% to their jobs. The magic formula is work autonomy, good communication and an explicit agreement that despite our geographical remoteness, we are still gathered together via online platforms to brainstorm among each other and get things done. Such is the female experience at Melltoo.

Without Sharene’s leadership, we wouldn’t have gotten ahead with $1.2 million in private funding so far. Yesmin is the creative genius behind many Melltoo characters “Melltoo Man” and the rest of the Melltoo family character.

Asiya has successfully run 3 major engagement campaigns since Spring, as well as our partners programme.  Heba continues to interact and answer our user queries on a daily basis and not surpass our 8-min average targeted reply time. Special shoutout to the former women of Melltoo, Soukaina Rachidi and Yusra Bagsheir.

Cranky Customers, More Meaningful Engagement And Other Simple Tips For Your Ramadan As A Business

This is our fourth Ramadan since we launched in mid-2014. Ramadan for Melltoo is a month of work, reflection, preparation and execution. We continuously learn how to accommodate the needs of our customers and partners as well as develop better engagement campaigns that result in improved customer experiences and higher retention

If this is your first Ramadan as a business in the region, we would like to share with you our experience of the past three years.

Invest in Your Core Users

Retailing in the UAE

Peer-to-peer retailing in the UAE is typically slower in the summer since a significant portion of the population (mostly families) travel outside the UAE when school is out. Thus, we, at Melltoo, take this opportunity to focus on our core users. We do not typically launch any new acquisition campaigns during the summer. We prefer to reward and invest our money in customer experience (e.g. discounted products, better-vetted listings, a faster delivery time).

Engagement

Ramadan in the Muslim world has been traditionally a month for hyper consumerism that benefit some industries such as traditional brick-and-mortar retail, food and beverage, beauty services, etc. As retail and other services ramp up, businesses use this opportunity to connect with their customers and offer them deals they can’t refuse. As discretionary income increases during the month, businesses compete to get their share.

Typical engagement campaigns in the Muslim world concentrate on charity and giving back to one’s community since Ramadan is the month of benevolence and philanthropy in the Muslim calendar.

‘Flash sale’

In the last Ramadan, we ran one of our feature discount campaigns called “flash sales.” The basics of the flash sale campaign rest in the name. They’re flash i.e. they only last one to few hours, and they’re primarily sales campaigns. Flash sale campaigns run per category each time. We may run one campaign at a time or a few on the same day. During each campaign, we reward each buyer with 50% credit-back on the value of their purchase. Sellers benefit with a larger flux of engaged buyers who are present in-app to buy.

The primary goal of each campaign was to boost transactions per category. Secondary goals are to push the users to explore the app, scroll down the feed, use the many features of the app such as search, liking and commenting, looking into ratings on seller profiles and ultimately create a more dynamic marketplace. We have run this campaign and other forms of this campaign successfully since launch.

At a time of carefully managed growth, we increased our daily transactions by 50% for the overall month of Ramadan.  

The main distribution channel for the campaign was in-app messaging (automated live campaigns via intercom.io) and social media.

Since last Ramadan, we introduced new changes to the app’s UI. We changed two things. We now run marketing campaign visuals on the app’s  main browse feed. We also outsourced crediting rewards to users. Our staff does not add back credits to users. The users use coupons on the app and add money to their wallets themselves. Thus far, our coupons have been redeemed 1500 times since the first week of Ramadan 2017.

You can read more about Ramadan 2017 reward campaign and earn money on Melltoo right here!!

Understanding Customer Needs

User behavior typically shifts during the month of Ramadan even when the users themselves are not observing the religious duty, they are influenced by trends around them.

In a peer-to-peer classifieds, great customer experience is a combination of efforts from the sellers’ side who provide their pre-loved items for sale, logistics companies who ship the items and the buyers who may accept these items or choose to return them; and of course our operations team’s ability to manage user participation and expectations.

During Ramadan, working hours are shortened. This sometimes results in sellers being unavailable to ship their items on time and logistics companies having fewer hours in the day to complete deliveries. Our team’s responsibility is to maintain a positive user experience despite the inevitable logistical challenges. We take extra care to manage expectations and to be on top of sellers and logistics companies throughout the month. Customers are very reasonable people as long as they provided with timely and accurate information about their order. We let them know if a delay is anticipated, we revise our CS timings to accomodate the fasting schedule, we work with logistics companies to manage the flow of orders to prevent bottlenecks. Authenticity and honesty are key in our approach to customer service. We treat our customers as our partners and regularly update them on the status of their case.

Special Hours And Flexibility

In the UAE and many other Muslim countries, working hours are reduced. While legal hours may not always correspond to your operating hours, in order to strike a balance between both, you have to know your customers and reach out to your partners.

For most e-commerce businesses, you will deal with two important time slots: Working in the day will be crucial to make sure your sold items are shipped. Working the night shift is important because this is when your fasting customers will feel at ease to share their concerns and queries.

Flexibility is important too. We, at Melltoo, operate a location-independent business which means we don’t have core hours people need to clock in and out. We focus on getting things done, right. As a result, our hours are easily flexed to accomodate the needs of the month.

In the words of our customer service manager, Mostafa Gamal, who deals primarily with customers and manages customer-communications, “if you work in a healthy work environment and with a proper mindset, fasting won’t affect your productivity at all. Keeping yourself busy helps passing some time so might as well keep yourself busy with something productive.”

Sharene Lee is our co-founder and COO. She is a person whom I admire a lot for her focus, self-discipline and work ethic. Sharene is a mother of six. She manages several people with several functions. I often wonder how she does it.

“Not having to eat during the day actually makes me more productive because I don’t have to stop midday and figure out what to eat and get everyone else sorted. I like Ramadan coz It gives me uninterrupted time to do more ‘brain-intensive’ things like financial modeling and working on product roadmap and strategy,” she wrote me.

How you can lead the path forward?

Ramadan is a month of blessings for Muslims around the world. It can be time for activity, testing and training depending on your business. The key factor is to know your customers well, to reach out to them and keep them interested in your brand even if they’re not buying. Reach out to partners, find synergies and find out how you can ride the Ramadan wave and stay relevant. Focus on CSR campaigns. If you manage a diverse workforce, it is important to invest in cultural sensitivity trainings to avoid tension in the workplace. If you intend to jack up your growth this month, lay the foundation to measure this growth and speak with your customers as much as you can.

Building a Non-Stop Machine: How Melltoo, The No-Meetup Classifieds, Built A Location-Independent Business

At Melltoo, we work as a distributed team. It was not the plan, but we started out this way and kept growing from a team of 2 to 25. And in this time, we have not felt like we are disadvantaged, in fact, we have executed and grown much more rapidly then our peers.

We are not a team by virtue of sharing office space, but rather by a strong belief in our mission and by working toward common goals. For many of us, Melltoo is a unique opportunity to work within a rapidly growing market while not physically being in Dubai. It is also a great way to make an impact from wherever we are in the world, by contributing to the sharing economy and helping make resale and resuse part of the product lifecycle and in turn build a more sustainable future. Every single of one us finds meaning in our work.

Most people don’t fully understand what working remotely is about. Great ideas don’t always happen in closed spaces. We live in a world with excellent communication technologies (slack, hangouts, appear.in, jit.si Meet, etc.). Idea generation takes place when there is communication, it really doesn’t matter if it’s spoken, written, in person or asynchronous.

Achieving work-life balance in the 21st century

After all, working from the same place every day can be really depressing. With Melltoo, I have had the opportunity to travel to several destinations around the globe while launching major feature updates, such Melltoo Pay&Ship in October 2015. I still remember this experience as one of the most fulfilling work-personal experiences in the past three years. Perhaps, it is the change of routine that helps me schedule both work and “me” time evenly. One thing for certain, I did not feel overwhelmed by either work or travel, as compared to other times where I woke up every day and did the same exact thing over and over. Being able to work-travel also opened my eyes to new things and experiences that I’ve been able to import into my work.

When given the chance, many office employees welcome the option to work remotely. There is even a new “workation” trend, where you are able to fulfill your passions outside of work, while still successfully fulfill your job duties without being limited by physical space. These trends along with digital nomadism is responsible for a new work philosophy among Millennial workers and Gen X-ers. Southeast Asia and cheaper European and Latin American cities are filled with transient digital nomads who hop from city to city looking to feed both their soul and portfolios.

Parents also prefer working at home when available to them. Santosh Binwal, Melltoo’s quality assurance manager, works from home due to family reasons.

“I needed to work from home due to some family conditions. Melltoo gives me this chance. There is no hard timing and pressure. All members in our team are like family. Everybody helps one another. Top management are transparent with all team members and everyone knows what is going on. No hidden things,” Santosh wrote me when asked to contribute to this article.

For the uninitiated, here are three myths about the nature of distributed teams that need debunking.

Myth #3: Working remotely is freelancing

Working remotely is not akin to freelancing. We’re bound by KPI’s, tasks and objectives. Our commitment to the company is very real. In fact, everyone on our team, except several new hires, have been with us for at least a year. It’s all about organization and setting clear, achievable goals. Working remotely does not negate the development of company culture. In fact, I would argue that working remotely has shaped our company culture into one that emphasizes results and execution over office politics.

Many of our customer service agents have been working remotely with Melltoo for over a year. In fact, many are polyvalent and perform several tasks within our broad CS-Operations team. They have witnessed many changes to our processes from the way we verify and book orders to how we treat claims and cancellations.

Timing is especially crucial for a company like ours which prides itself for great customer experience we offer to our users. We schedule our working hours within peak hours of customer interactions. Typically these peak hours fall within people’s resting schedules. Our team is experienced enough to anticipate peak days and hours before they occur in synch with our marketing campaigns schedule.

Our CS team has been through different growth stages. They helped shape CS processes and performances in the past year resulting in a decrease in our CS reply time from hours to 10 minute per query. Everyone continues to learn on the job while also supporting themselves in a handful of small cities in Egypt plagued with a higher-than-average unemployment rate. Fortunately, our team’s professionalism and fondness for team work has kept them in their jobs year after year.

Myth #2: Working remotely is isolating

While this may be true at times, it is still preferable to working in an open office which tends to be awfully distracting with chatty coworkers, background noise, and office politics. According to a Harvard Business Review Research on work satisfaction in open-floor work spaces, the results are not great. The main complaints are noise, lack of cleanliness and constant interruption. In fact, the study reports a loss of 86 minutes per workday due to distractions.

From my own experience, as customer experience manager and content writer, I am able to focus better with a silent background while being the only person in the room. I do my work first and then I schedule calls and meetings around it. Hours of optimal productivity also differ from person to person. Allowing people to work asynchronously improves productivity while increasing job satisfaction. So, while working remotely can sometimes be lonely, it actually helps getting the job done, especially in creative tasks that require a lot of concentration, like coding or writing.

At Melltoo, we recognize the need for social interaction. It is something we constantly work towards.

Rahul Choudhary, our technical manager, recently moved to Melbourne, Australia. Just like the rest of the members of our team, he is not restricted by location to do his job. He fashioned his own communication style with his team of 10 people.

“One of my most important roles is to communicate with the tech team and get things done. I usually talk with the team on phone or skype. Text chat is only used to keep records. So, if there is something that needs to be present as reference, then I put it on Slack or email. Voice call makes it easier for everyone to explain & to understand,” he wrote to me on Slack.

Slack is our favorite channel of communication.

Myth #3: Working remotely decreases productivity

Wrong. As I mentioned above, working alone has the benefit of reducing distractions and boosting productivity.

In addition, work productivity is measured by motivation, not location. Remote workers are by default a motivated bunch of self-starters; you won’t survive very long in the remote work environment if you aren’t. There is no one to tell you when to start work and no one to prevent you from stopping. Without self-motivation, you won’t get anything done, which is a one-way ticket out of the job.

In my opinion , there is nothing more exhilarating than taking the lead and achieving the goals you set out for yourself.

Santosh has worked on multiple app iterations including major feature updates and changes. He relishes increased responsibility.

“I am motivated by taking responsibility. In Melltoo, there is a high responsibility on me that the application should be Bug Free and Users can use it without any hassle. One more thing, it gives me a sense of accomplishment and I am proud to say ‘I am working for Melltoo,'” he wrote me when asked about routine and execution in the job.

We, at Melltoo, have worked remotely since day 1 and we’ve been thriving and growing for the last three years. We don’t clock in, we don’t clock out, we travel, we work. In this time, we’ve served hundreds of thousands of buyers and sellers, raised several rounds of funding and continue to grow the business while working cohesively as a team from many places around the world. We haven’t missed a beat.

It has been a routine of mine to experiment with new automation processes along with our operations QA manager, Hesham Mustafa, often at the wee hours of the morning. We’re both night owls and I prefer test sending messages to users outside of rush hours to see what works best. We never found the need to sit together at one place at one time, we just communicated constantly as we worked together on developing a rationale and method of automation.

Hesham, who is a chemistry graduate, took a liking and commitment to learning and customizing codes and API’s from our tech team to fit the needs of our operations team.

No one on the team is really second-guessing their experience at Melltoo. He wrote:

“Everything I do now I have learned on the job, which was made possible because I could choose where and when to work and didn’t have to waste my time and energy going to and back from a certain work place. In addition to that, I was given the space to innovate and apply my ideas which was a huge motivation to do even more. I’ve thought of it as a hobby that I enjoy more than a job that I would have to do just to get paid,” he writes.

In just a few months, we managed to automate a large chunk of our operations at Melltoo. We have about 10+ people who collaborate daily on operations, from the product development team, CS team, Operations and QA. We’re not bound by strict schedule but rather the simple logic to serve our customers in the ways and in the hours they need us the most.

How to Build A User First Approach to Entrepreneurship

How to Build A User First Approach to Entrepreneurship
Alexis Baghdadi, Feb 13 2015

 
In the digital era, marketing is redefined as a fast-paced, high-impact affair. In this new global platform, entrepreneurship has evolved to a whole new level. SMEs can now rub shoulders with mega corporations, even with their limited resources. The relationship between customers and businesses is becoming less static thanks to technology and social media. Things have just gotten more interesting.
 
But being in the game is not enough; knowing how to play is the only guarantee of staying in the game and, with the right attitude, winning. A successful business is no longer defined by its size, but rather by its ability to attract and maintain a strong user following on the web. And this means delivering a fun and interactive experience from the get go. In other words: It is all about being “user first”. This was the engine under the hood of Melltoo, a Dubai-based mobile version of classifieds that is capturing the attention of users and investors around the MENA.
 
Adopting an Advanced User-Centric Approach
 
When a company puts users’ needs at the center of its product development it changes the pace and the focus of all of its endeavors. Being user first means giving top priority to user experience in order to nurture brand loyalty. Whether Melltoo is building content or expanding user outreach, the question is always: How do we engage users and bring them value? For co-founders Morrad Irsane and Sherene Lee, the app answered the need to bring the classified ads culture into the new digital age and make the experience more friendly. Websites, blogs and various social media networks had already adjusted to host classifieds on their platforms, but they all registered similar complaints. Posts and items for sale often got lost in the noise, and the response rate was sometimes despairingly slow or untrustworthy. The startup also noticed there could be buyers for even the smallest, inexpensive items so it decided to give fair treatment and exposure to every item. This has given it a distinct edge over other selling platforms like Dubizzle. Melltoo’s user first objective challenges conventional business practices on a daily basis. Real-time messaging through the in-app chat allows users to address each other directly and receive immediate updates on their phone to conclude deals. Because it is the only way for them to interact, it guarantees their privacy and ensures the safety of their contact details. They can also file complaints and block abusive users. This example of a user first approach constituted Melltoo’s primary entry point into the MENA market where the mobile app territory was still widely unchartered. So in many ways, the company’s user first, mobile first, MENA first mindset created quite a stir in the Dubai startup scene. Its unique approach to addressing users’ pain points in the UAE has created a new set of business practices tailored to the needs of a growing population of young smartphone users in the region.
 
Community Feedback at the Heart of Growth
 
Melltoo is always looking for new user engagement strategies and testing them. As a small operation, it takes a Darwinian approach to strategizing in order to conserve its resources and human capital. Its flexible hierarchy makes it possible to involve all team members every step of the way, starting at the idea stage. Of course, such an operation requires constant communication and often calls for multitasking. Although members of the Melltoo team are located in different parts of the world (France, Tunisia, Pakistan, India and the UAE), they are able to stay in constant contact thanks to the team communication platform Slack. Ultimately, this makes Melltoo a leaner, more united and supportive team. Once a strategy is implemented, the team spends weeks on monitoring user behavior and internet analytics before deciding on improvements in service delivery. According to the founders, “Being user first means incorporating user feedback into the development process, in order to build a product that brings value to users.” Because it is a small operation, Melltoo is able to quickly adapt its marketing and engagement strategies to changes in its user base. In turn, this grants it the necessary elasticity to redefine and refocus its brand identity effectively. Such a dynamic brand identity is very conducive to the organic growth of both the company and its user base.
 
One example of how Melltoo translates customer engagement into growth is through its broader range of social interfaces. For instance, the website’s blog features articles by experts on how to promote items on sale or advice from Decluttr Me (http://decluttrme.com/) on reducing excess at home or in the office by de-cluttering. The app has also collaborated with other startups and initiatives such as sales of handcrafted products or used items to raise funds for causes. This deep social integration has a purpose: to build trust in the marketplace. It also serves to strengthen the buying and selling eco-system in the UAE and therefore reinforce Melltoo’s position in the market. Since its launch in March 2014, the app has had over 100,000 installs, with a daily growth of 450+ users.
 
More About Meltoo:
Arabnet the quaterly
 
Melltoo is a classifieds listing service for mobile where people can buy and sell things. The startup was launched in 2014 with an initial investment of $100,000 in own funds and has recently secured investment from the WOMENA angel investor group to boost itsgrowth. The app is available for free on the Apple and Android stores.
 
This article was originally published on Arabnet.me

Why the Web Giants Can’t Go Mobile-First

As a mobile startup with an impressive web-based competitor who’s been around and has deep deep pockets, we get asked this question a lot: “Can’t XXYYZZ  build your app in 12 days?” When we explain Melltoo‘s value proposition as a mobile first social selling platform with a payment and delivery service and a built-in chat function, people understand how we are different from our web-based competitor. They immediately recognize that we have a compelling value proposition. However, they always come back to: “They have tons of engineers, I’m sure they can build the same app in a month.” Then we show them Melltoo, and they inevitably go “WOW” but nevertheless say: “It’s an amazing app, but XXYYZZ has loads of cash, they can do what you did and CRUSH you.” Well no. They can’t and let me tell you why.

1) Mobile First, Mobile Only

In Fall 2012, Facebook launched it’s native mobile app for iOS and Android and declared itself to be a mobile-first company . This was after a “painful” (Mark’s words) 18-month transition for one of the world’s largest web companies. Why was it painful? Because the mobile experience is totally different from the web. And if you are used to building for the web first, while your mobile app plays catch up, then your mobile experience will always be sub-optimized and limited. There are certain things that the mobile can do that the web can’t, such as geolocalization, pulling from the camera hardware, and push notifications for starters. So if you’re building for the web first, you will neglect these oh-so-important mobile-only features, which means your user experience will be sub par.

2) The Amputation Problem

In order to become a mobile-first platform, you’ll have to greatly streamline and simplify your web experience in order to maintain consistency across services and platforms. Just this March, Paypal rolled out it’s new “mobile-first” website which fronts a major overhaul of Paypal services to enable and enhance mobile transactions. The point here is that the move to mobile is not simply about building a front-end app. It’s also about what’s going on in the backend; and in some cases, the move to mobile affects the product offering at its core.

3) Organizational Misbehavior

Let’s suppose that the big web incumbent has an enlightened CEO like Mark (Facebook) or David (Paypal), who recognizes that it’s time to go mobile-first. Then, there’s the rest of the organization to contend with. Large successful companies are run by large numbers of people who require bureaucratic processes to work together effectively. Forgetting brainstorming on Slack, like we do at Melltoo. Bureaucratic processes are by definition slow and that’s why large companies move slowly. Once our enlightened CEO figures out it’s time to go mobile, she has to coax her board of directors and clue in all her senior management. Then, after much back and forth, strategy is hammered out across departments and implementation plans are drawn up. New bureaucratic processes need to be introduced at this point to manage change and reduce risk. Finally, the little worker Joes, on whose backs the company runs, need to be retrained and realigned. The whole organization needs to be restructured to tame the misbehaving beast.

4)The Hiring Nightmare

The average non-coder seems to think that if you can build a “hello world” program on javascript, then you must be able to build an app. The reality is a bit more complex. To build a good app, you not only need an experienced front-end app coder, you also need a UI/UX expert, a backend database coder, a backend administrative web services coder, a project manager, and the officeboy who serves coffee and brings donuts. And if you are a big, successful company, then you’ll need two of everyone because you have an image to protect in order to win the “Employer of the Year” award. And no, you can’t just get your existing engineers to do the job. Firstly, they may not have the expertise. Secondly, who’s going to do their current job? So you have no choice but to hire and we know how that nightmare goes.

A Dollar Now is Better than Two in the Future (no matter how near)

Suppose you are the web-based incumbent that is making tons of money with your website. Melltoo shows up on the scene, a startup with 6 (at last count) team members and some VC funding. Melltoo hints at a future of unrealized potential. You sense that Melltoo could be disruptive, the keyword here being could. Would you at this point overhaul your entire business model and take your organization through a painful transition in order to respond to the little startup nobody has heard of? I think not. And your board of directors is unlikely to go for it. Which means you won’t move until Melltoo has 50 on the team and a Series B under its belt. Then the battle begins, and may the most innovative company win!