What is Dakai?

23 Apr 2018

Welcome to the Dakai blog! Here you can find out about the way we work and the way we build. Not many companies out there can create products like us. Our company’s clearly defined goals and philosophy drive us to deliver the best product according to the client’s vision. To assure this we schedule meetings and discussions before starting a project and we make sure everything is perfect, giving them the opportunity to become one of the leaders in their industry.

What separates us from our competitors is exceptional focus.


Strategy

Many people have asked about our methods and our ability to scale so quickly. Strategy is the weapon in your hands as a founder and this will make or break your company. We pretty much hacked the agency game and tried to think more like a startup from the very beginning. Our main drive is speed and precision. We question assumptions of others and we iterate fast on products, to the extent of my knowledge, faster than any of our competitors.

Both of us (founders) were moving when we had the idea to start the business so we had to work out a strategy fast to cover our business and living costs. Instead of advertising on social media and building a brand by investing thousands of hours, we used personal connections and past work experience to get ahead. We contacted some of the largest HR agencies in Europe as a blockchain company and told them:

“Hey, we provide blockchain services. We are very happy to take over any projects that are late and build it faster and better than your current developers.”

After this we started receiving projects that assured our financial security, allowing us to scale. An interesting fact is that the website hasn’t been built until the 6th month of the company in operation. This goes against pretty much any marketing and sales book you have ever read during the internet age.

I suspect if we started the ordinary way, we would have gone bankrupt by the time we could have started receiving projects.


Why Dakai?

Dakai – 打开 – dăkāi

It means open in Chinese. I want to be transparent as soon as we start building our internal projects. I just want everyone to enjoy the information we have access to, and it’s better to maintain an open relationship with followers, clients and everyone around us. We will see how this works out but my (Laszlo) goal is to build a brand that delivers high-quality information on how to run a business, how to scale it, what roadblocks you might hit and more importantly: how to start. Our team will also publish tech-heavy articles which will cover tips and tricks about the tools and languages we use.


Clients

As a new brand, the way you treat your new customers is crucial. They hired you without prior experience with your company, based on the communication between you and them.

You are the medium between your team and the client; as such you are responsible for the quality of the work delivered and hitting the deadline.

General advice

  • Communicate as soon as possible, as clear as you can
    A slight change in schedule is not that big of a deal. However, it can become one if you inform your customer too late and they already prepared for the launch. Make sure your communication is frequent and to the point.
  • Do your due diligence
    This one is extremely important. You want to make sure that the client will not just hire you but pay you too. As a startup, you can’t afford losses and lawsuits. You need to do the research ahead of time. Almost all agencies are new in the blockchain space and I have seen many rush into knee-jerk decisions because being hired was more important than getting paid. The space is full of scammers and people who try to get every dollar out of your company.I saw this pattern emerge a few months before I started Dakai. This was one of the reasons that made me scale through personal connections and HR agencies first. Both of these greatly increase the chances that you’ll get the money you’ve worked for.
  • Work on products
    While running an agency is stable, safe and predictable, some might find it more rewarding to build their own products. At some point when your agency is self-sustaining, you can try focusing your attention on developing one of these side projects. If you see a real problem and your team is enthusiastic about solving it, you might build something exceptional.At Dakai we are creating internal projects at least half of our company time. We track time very carefully and make sure at least 50% of it goes to developing projects that don’t get paychecks for us immediately but can have a long-term effect on how things turn out.
  • Don’t be afraid to have an opinion
    It’s impossible to speak to an audience and have everyone like what you say. After acknowledging this, sharing your honest thoughts becomes much easier. Focus on constructive comments, and be open to other people’s ideas.
  • Make sure to read every contract as carefully as if your life depended on it
    ICO and blockchain-related companies love to sue. I don’t mean it like big tech companies who sue each other. Whenever there’s big money involved, many of the smaller companies will find a way to prosecute. Fortunately, we’ve never had a lawsuit before but we’ve heard of many and with a vague contract you have an increased chance of running into one.
  • Don’t hire sales, marketing and operations people
    You don’t need them! Really, you don’t. You could easily spend $100-200k a year on them. The job of marketing and sales people can be automated with some clever scripts (a blog post about this is coming soon).Hire developers instead who have a diverse skillset. For example, one of our devs is really good at writing so we often trust him with editing. Small traits and skills from hobbies, past experience, etc. from your own employees can greatly contribute to your long-term success. Don’t just interview for programming skills, interview on a personal level. You will have a deeper connection with employees, so they will be more likely to help you with passion.

Some other tips from me (Laszlo) personally:

  • CRMs are useless. You just need a well-organized document folder online. You can use Google Drive, Dropbox or anything that suits your needs. We use Notion because we love the things we can do with a simple wiki. There are also permissions and everything is under control. We even manage tasks, ideas and keep track of finances with it. Also, our customers. Pretty important.
  • Paying for project management tools is useless. Just look at the last section, you don’t need that stuff.
  • B2B ads are highly ineffective. Would you rather have a thousand visitors, most of which could be bots or misclicks over three, organically reached people out of whom two might become customers? I would opt for the latter one but this is up to you.
  • Remote first is a good idea. Our team is remote first and I never regretted it. Consider it as having a developer feeling like he is on vacation but working at the same time. A flexible schedule paired with the ability to travel more frequently increases both job satisfaction and productivity.
  • Be very precise with finances. Make sure you know where your money goes and try to cut unnecessary spending.
  • Be very precise with numbers in general. Marketing, for instance, is pretty much just a numbers game. You just test two types of emails, two messages and track how many replies / deals you closed from each. A/B test and analyze metrics regularly, so you don’t have to guess when making decisions.
  • Focus less on planning and more on doing. Lots of business owners don’t realize that they can’t reasonably make a plan for every scenario. Attempts to do usually backfire over the long term as key areas end up not getting attention. Limit your strategy discussions to 2-3 hours a week.

Always be around and make it easy for people to talk to you. It doesn’t have to be about getting more clients, their connections might be worth more than their money. By simply having people notice and be aware of you, they tend to notice opportunities involving your startup more. This is called the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.


Question and adapt

Lots of companies stop innovating once they grow big because they didn’t build the culture right from the beginning. There are so many “industry standards” out there that people will claim is the best. However, a better project management tool will barely make your team more productive. Your way of analyzing and using data will.

As an example, a large number of companies use Trello, Asana or JIRA. We were recommended more tools than I can count but no one told us about a small tool called Notion. It came out quietly on Product Hunt and we found it more useful than any of the more mainstream products (they didn’t pay us to say that.) It might not be for you but the point of this section is that you shouldn’t just throw a $9/person/month subscription on your bank account because everyone else does so – by the time you have 50 people, you would spend over $5k per year just to be able to add simple todos categorized by projects.


Find problems

The best way to come up with new ideas is to find a problem in your life and try to solve it. Then try to sell it / automate it and in the end, you will have something that saves people time, money, or both so they will buy it. We brainstorm hours each week on this topic.


Closing thoughts

You can expect us to publish more articles in the coming weeks. We will mostly write technical and startup related content as well as our take on new developments in the blockchain space. As always, feel free to reach us at info@dakai.io.