Beta Launch – Takso Marketing Case Study

Beta Launch – Takso Marketing Case Study

The Cultural Development Network (CDN) is a non-profit based in Melbourne, Australia who advocate for a more prominent role for cultural expression towards nurturing a society that’s healthier, better engaged, and sustainable.

Their product Takso, a planning and evaluation tool built specifically for the cultural development landscape in Australia, was still at a very early stage in 2019 when they first approached Beta Launch. CDN had a developer onboard who was their only programmer, and he was responsible for the proof of concept. They were, however, looking to take the product from proof of concept into some sort of trial market and pilot it. Additional specialist resources were required to do this successfully.

Context – Product Need

In Australia and many other parts of the world, the cultural sector has largely been ignored from public policy. It is understood, however, that culture plays a big part in the success of different policy areas, and it is therefore essential to understand culture closely. But a pressing problem sector-wide has been the lack of objective methods for end-to-end measurement and understanding of outcomes of cultural activities, plus the narrative from the planning stage through to the selection of a cultural activity to achieve a specific outcome.

In an area that’s largely practical like culture, a technical approach is required to achieve this. And so the requirement first arose for CDN to build a framework to plan culture, measure it, and basically understand what makes the best cultural activities so, and others not so much.

Challenge

Although the proof of concept built by CDN’s in-house developer was used to test an early version among actual users or pilot sites, there was still the challenge of fully transferring the theories on culture and the framework onto a platform or product that would be used by the cultural sector.

This required a product engineering team to see through, i.e., to go from the old build (old proof of concept) to a new build while onboarding the pilot sites onto the new platform to go to the new market. But capital access was difficult and sparse, so it was challenging for CDN (as a non-profit) to spend an exorbitant amount on outsourcing their product engineering requirement and also to build in one go.

Their challenge in fulfilling this product engineering requirement was further aggravated by the worsening tech skill and talent shortage in Australia and the high costs associated with both hiring and outsourcing to fully-local product engineering teams.

Beta Launch’s Solution

By engaging Beta Launch’s ‘Product Engineering Teams’ solution, CDN was able to solve these issues and take their product to the next stage.

Beta Launch’s business setup and their approach to product engineering perfectly suited the major issues CDN was looking to overcome.

Beta Launch’s base in Colombo, Sri Lanka apart from its home in Melbourne, Australia affords them the advantage of a consistent source of high-quality product engineering and tech talent at highly cost-effective rates, helping CDN beat the ongoing tech talent war in Australia.

Beta Launch’s agile approach to product engineering and development also helped CDN overcome their issue of non-predictable capital access as a non-profit organization, building incrementally and making small progresses but using a scalable process.

Initially, Beta Launch engaged a product manager based in Australia and a programmer located in Sri Lanka, who worked closely with CDN’s in-house programmer and their Executive Officer. Since the code was already present, the main issue or first task was to transfer it onto a platform and upgrade it, so the CDN team could build on it progressively.

Of the previous pilot sites using the old proof of concept, the City of Perth and the City of Melbourne were among the first to be upgraded to the new platform, before a series of other local government authorities plus cultural organizations including Western Edge Youth Arts and Beyond Empathy.

From revamping the front-end, then the back-end, and adding features, to acquiring CDN’s first customers, Beta Launch’s product engineering resources and skills were instrumental in achieving each product milestone.

The team’s superior knowledge about what they were building along with their constant learning involving the product and its intention allowed CDN to build more purposefully and gain value beyond mere responding to requests.

This was reflected in the product built, with customers absolutely delighted with Takso because of the clarity of purpose it offered them through the ability to report the outcomes or impact of their cultural work in a clear way; the improvement of cultural activity and events productivity; and the significant reduction in time taken to get the green light on cultural projects.

While these pilot sites and potential customers could see the benefits the product held, in developing the functionality above, Beta Launch’s approach was key in CDN’s distinct product offering and how customers were serviced along the way.

Each pilot site was made aware that these functions were being built, and the Beta Launch team were accurate in delivering on-time and within budget each time; a rare feat in today’s business world, particularly in the area of product or software engineering.

Since Beta Launch built Takso in steps, CDN could confidently state to customers that they were building a particular aspect to test next week, and they always knew it would be ready. The Beta Launch approach helped CDN design and build incrementally, go to the client, test it, and come back with changes. Parallelly, costs too were reduced considerably as Beta Launch’s ‘Product Engineering Teams’ solution helped CDN build and scale on-the-go depending on the level of capital secured.

The engagement between CDN and Beta Launch transformed further in the last 14 months, with all work being conducted remotely from Sri Lanka. The cultural and attitudinal compatibility between Beta Launch’s team and clients such as CDN in Australia have contributed to the success of this model, although with obvious limitations.

Product’s Current Standing

Since mid-2019, when CDN first engaged Beta Launch’s ‘Product Engineering Teams’ solution, 15 new pilot sites have been added and additional funding has been gained.

Their plan is to move up to 25 pilot sites this year, including major companies such as the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, a major theater company, and numerous state plus national cultural institutions.

For 2022 and beyond, Takso is looking to complete a program structure, I.e. to move from facilitating only single cultural activities and the evaluation of their outcomes to multiple activities or programs. This represents further involvement for Beta Launch and their product engineering specialists, in revolutionizing the cultural space in Australia through better planning and evaluation of cultural activities and their outcomes.

Our product’s evolution was closely shaped by Beta Launch’s product engineering team, who stood out due to their mastery of agile development principles together with factors such as their integration of continuous user and pilot site feedback across the engineering process. Their extensive experience and unique Sri Lankan-Australian outlook to product engineering have helped Takso become an in-demand planning and evaluation product, with hundreds of new pilot sites keen to test the product to improve the cultural outcomes of their diverse activities.

John Smithies

Executive Officer @ Cultural Development Network