The secret to developing technology that people love
A chat with Osi Peters, our Director of Technology – Part 2
Vistaprint Corporate is a startup within a larger company, Cimpress. We talked to our Director of Technology Osi Peters to find out what it’s like and discovered his secret to creating technology solutions that resonate with people.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a startup within a larger company?
It’s a huge advantage from a technology standpoint. One key benefit is that we can leverage a vast portfolio of innovations, including the Cimpress mass customization platform. This gives us a competitive advantage. With this platform, we can provide tremendous value to our business partners, including on-demand printing and global delivery of custom business identity, marketing, and promotional products. Our speed to market and scaling ability wouldn’t be the same if we were trying to figure out this business on our own.
A possible downside could be experienced during capital allocation. When it’s based on a present-day revenue generation model but you are in the early stages of your growth cycle, it can take some negotiating to get the right priority attention for your needs. That said, Cimpress has been good about capital allocation, so the downside is mostly mitigated.
What technology-building methodologies do you like to use and why?
There are a lot of cutting edge technology methodologies today that range from continuous deployment to agile practices. But my favorite is hypothesis-driven development. It’s a method that’s usually applied to design, but it can work with any technology or software product. It involves making observations about real people, forming assumptions, and then putting together a hypothesis for what value you can deliver to that person or persons. Then you try it out in the real world. You need to be open to the idea that your initial assumptions might be incorrect and be willing to take a different direction. It simplifies the problem of creating things people love because it reduces the problem to whether a person loves it or doesn’t love it. And there’s no more important feedback than people loving what you created for them.
Who are the technology leaders that you look up to?
It would have to be Jeff Bezos and Andy Jassy from Amazon and Amazon Web Services (AWS) respectively. People may not think of Amazon as a B2B company, but what they’ve done with the AWS products is clearly a B2B play. They grew that business from nothing to a ten billion-dollar business. Many companies leverage that platform to run their infrastructure. The product is such an impressive demonstration of the range of innovation and breadth of capabilities you can bring to bear for businesses. That’s hands down the most impressive execution of B2B I have seen to date.
What is the most recent tech gadget you’ve adopted in your personal life?
I recently bought an HTC VIVE headset. A friend who was working on content for virtual reality gave me a demonstration. I was so immersed and impressed by the experience that I decided to get my hands on it. I also got a camera drone for my birthday. And I’ve been dabbling with TensorFlow from Google, which is a machine learning technology. So, at this point, I would characterize my usage as consumer-based. I’m consuming technologies and experiencing them to get inspired by the possibilities. At some point, I hope to develop content or play in these spaces in some way.
From writing movie scripts to investing in startups, find out more about Osi Peters’ path to Vistaprint Corporate in Part 1 of this interview.