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The 5 Habits That Can Accelerate Product Development Cycles

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Rachel Kline | July 11, 2023

“Rachel Kline from Authority Magazine interviews Helcim CEO Nic Beique, a technical founder with over fifteen years of payments experience. ”
4 min read
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    All new products start with an idea and then continue through the stages of development. What are the 5 habits that can accelerate product development cycles? In this interview series, we are talking to product managers, founders, and thought leaders who can share stories and insights from their experiences about how to accelerate product development cycles. As part of this series, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Nic Beique.

    Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before diving in, our readers would love to learn more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

    Growing up, my two favorite things to do on computers were model 3D objects and program code. One of my first attempts at starting a business in high school was a website that lets you buy auto parts, but instead of a standard e-commerce website, you saw your car in 3D and could drag and drop parts to it. The business didn’t work, but it was one of those pivotal moments where I fell in love with the idea of blending design and commerce together.

    Do you have any mentors or experiences that have particularly influenced your approach to product development and user experience?

    One of my favorite books is The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky (now an executive at Adobe). So I would consider Scott to be a very “unofficial” mentor. Not only is it a fantastic book for new entrepreneurs, but there is a whole section that dives deep into building great product experiences. It is now a must-read for all of our product team members at Helcim.

    Find small ways to delight your users. Look for opportunities to add little unexpected features or interactions. These can be as small as incorporating a little animation or visual or offering personalized touches that make the user feel more connected to your product. These small delights can go a long way in fostering loyalty.

    It has been said that our mistakes can sometimes be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

    I think the best moments are when someone is able to just cut through all the ambiguity and noise. I remember the team and I were way too deep into which icons we should use in a mobile app to initialize a checkout. In trying to end the endless stalemate, we asked someone in our accounting department who was walking by which one of the icons they liked the most. She just looked at us like we were crazy and said, “None of these icons make sense — why can’t the button say the word checkout?” We just looked at each other and realized how far down the rabbit hole we had gone.

    What do you feel has been your ‘career-defining’ moment? We’d love to hear the lead-up, what happened, and the impact it had on your life.

    A number of years ago, we were approached by a large Fortune 500 company to work on a project for them. We only had 15 employees and really had no business trying to service a business that large. But we gave the proposal our best shot and to our surprise, we won the contract! That relationship ended up opening so many more doors in the business and banking world that would have been closed to us otherwise. The big lesson there is that no matter how audacious, never assume that there isn’t a possibility that you will get a yes.

    Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

    I think there are two types of startup founders; those who get lucky and hit their product-market fit right away, and the rest of us that have to go through the grueling ups and downs of learning how to build a product people love. It took me many iterations throughout my entrepreneur journey before finally learning how to put the right pieces together for our merchants — but ultimately, those false starts and failures instilled a great deal of confidence in me regarding why our current service resonates with our customers so well. In that regard alone, the journey has been worthwhile.

    How do you stay on top of market trends and developments in the product management space?

    I definitely have a lot of newsletters coming to my inbox (sometimes a bit too much), but I have a big appetite for always learning how others are approaching product development. I recently discovered Lenny’s Podcast, which is now a big go-to.

    What role does cross-functional collaboration play in accelerating product development cycles, and how do you foster effective collaboration across different teams and departments?

    You need to have a “one product team” mentality when it comes to your product organization. There are a lot of functions that contribute to building software products, including software development, product managers, product designers, product marketers, DevOps, data and so on. But there needs to just be “one team”, and that is the product team. For example, if this group is in charge of developing a calendar app, they need to see themselves first as the “calendar app” team and second as a developer or a designer. So I believe it goes beyond simply having good cross-functional collaboration. If the team doesn’t see themselves as a single product team, it will never work effectively.

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