In a digital age where mobile apps have become an integral part of our lives, the journey of those who create them is often fascinating and inspiring. In our Fractional Focus series, we explore the stories of extraordinary professionals like Luc Success, a top engineer who has made significant waves in the technology world. His journey from working at Spotify to building a viral mobile app sheds light on the attributes of a great engineer and technology leader. In this interview, we delve into Luc's specialties, his most successful project, the mistakes he's learned from, and the valuable advice he offers for those venturing into the world of fractional functions.
Fractional Focus with Luc Success
What is your specialty and how did you gain mastery over it?
My specialty is prototyping and developing a minimum viable product (MVP) for a product. I enjoy diving into coding to create quick solutions for testing purposes. Once the idea is validated, I can take that prototype and transform it into a scalable solution without having to start from scratch.
I devote a significant amount of time to reading various tech resources, including tech blogs, technical papers, and Hacker News. This helps me stay informed about the latest developments in the industry, spanning AI, Web3, and crypto. I do this whether I'm actively working on projects in these industries or simply to stay up-to-date with the latest technology trends.
In terms of technical knowledge, I'm interested in building proof of concepts, experimenting with new technologies, and continually expanding my understanding of the latest frameworks and libraries.
What was the most successful thing you personally built or have worked on?
The most successful project I've personally developed is my app, Drizzy Keyboard. This achievement stands out because I was working at Spotify at the time, and I leveraged the knowledge I had gained while working on "Discover Weekly" during my day job at Spotify to create something entirely new, especially for iOS. At the outset, we had no clear idea about its prospects or whether it would even function. It was a true experiment, but I applied my knowledge to build the app and learned how to avoid overloading it with features, keeping it simple. We decided to release it rather than continually refining it, and upon launch, we learned how to market the app by reaching out to various journalists. This approach proved highly successful, resulting in an article being written about it, and we gained 500,000 users within just two weeks. Shipping that app was a valuable learning experience for me about the importance of early and fast product delivery.
What was a mistake you have made along the way?
A significant lesson I've learned in the realm of building products that truly resonate with people is the importance of market validation before embarking on a year-long development journey based on assumptions about potential usage. This is in contrast to the Drizzy Keyboard story where we shipped the app early. In a different scenario, once we had some funding, we dedicated months to building a product without conducting early market validation, which led us to pivot later. It's worth noting that the original concept might have succeeded, but due to the absence of meaningful customer conversations and data, we couldn't make well-informed decisions. The key mistake here is building things without engaging with customers, often driven solely by excitement about the technology. Always start by talking to your customers, then proceed with building.
In the context of your field of expertise, if you are a startup CTO, your role differs significantly from that of a CTO in a large corporation. Besides being a core contributor who actively codes, you must also identify opportunities for the business within evolving technology trends. Equally important is guiding the CEO and other business team members regarding the technical feasibility of their ideas. To achieve this, it's crucial not to shy away from offering constructive feedback and expressing your professional insights. Particularly in the early stages, when the team is defining the product roadmap and deciding on priorities, your input is invaluable.
Another aspect of your skill set is effective communication. This entails conveying complex technical concepts in a manner that anyone, even a five-year-old, could comprehend. In my earlier career, I struggled with this skill and left people frustrated because I couldn't explain why investing more in scaling the database was necessary.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to build out a product while working fractionally?
The primary advice I would offer to someone in a technical role, whether they're an engineer or a tech lead at a company looking to transition into a fractional setup, is to take the initiative. Seek out a project or area you're genuinely passionate about and create a small application to test your ideas.
For instance, if you have a strong interest in video games and a passion for AI, consider developing an app designed to recommend game ideas to users or assist game creators with their concept development. This endeavor will equip you with the skills required to thrive in the early stages of a startup, and it will also teach you the essential skill of product shipping.
Tactical Takeaways from Luc’s Insights
Prioritize Early Validation: Luc's experience with the Drizzy Keyboard underscores the importance of early validation. Before diving into lengthy development, engage with potential users, and gather their feedback. This approach can save you from investing significant resources in ideas that may not resonate with your target audience.
Stay Informed and Curious: Luc's dedication to staying informed about the latest tech trends is a valuable trait. Aspiring engineers and tech leaders should make continuous learning a habit. Regularly consume tech resources, engage with industry communities, and explore emerging technologies to stay ahead in the field.
Start Small and Iterate: Luc's approach to building MVPs emphasizes simplicity and speed. When launching a new project, start small, and focus on core features. Rapid iterations based on user feedback enable you to refine your product and enhance its chances of success.
Seek Customer Conversations: Don't build in isolation. Luc's advice to engage in meaningful customer conversations cannot be overstated. Understanding your users' pain points and needs should be the foundation of your product development journey.
Effective Communication Matters: The ability to communicate complex technical concepts in a simple and understandable manner is a crucial skill, as highlighted by Luc's own journey. Work on your communication skills to bridge the gap between tech and non-tech team members effectively.
Initiative is Key: Luc's transition into fractional work began with initiative. To thrive in a fractional role, seek opportunities to work on projects you're passionate about. Building small applications or prototypes can equip you with the skills and mindset needed for fractional functions.
In the world of technology, where innovation is constant, professionals like Luc Succes stand out as beacons of expertise and insight. His journey from Spotify engineer to a successful app founder offers invaluable lessons for those venturing into the tech landscape. From the significance of early validation to the power of initiative and the importance of effective communication, Luc's experiences underscore the core principles that drive success in the digital age.
As Luc demonstrates, the fractional function of a CTO or engineer is not just about technical skills; it's about creativity, adaptability, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Whether you're a startup looking to transform an idea into reality or a business in need of tech guidance, Luc's tactical takeaways provide a roadmap for success. Embrace early validation, prioritize learning, and take the initiative to bring your tech dreams to life. In collaboration with Go Fractional, professionals like Luc are ready to help you navigate the ever-evolving tech landscape, ensuring your projects thrive and succeed in a competitive digital world.
If you’re looking for a fractional CTO or staff-level engineer to build 0-1, rebuild an existing codebase, or launch a new feature in contemporary tech stack, please reach out to us at Go Fractional to book an introduction with Luc.