There are a lot of good things when you are running a small company like Scrumpy. For example you can keep in touch with all your active users. Dan from Donut is one of those lovely users who I have been in contact every now and then. When I asked him for an interview, it didn't take him long to say yes, so I'm very proud to feature him as the first guest in our new interview series.
Dan, you are responsible for Product and Design at donut. Could you tell us more about donut and your role there?
Absolutely. Donut is an app allowing people to start building their digital wealth (i.e. crypto assets) in a super easy and fun way. We are building a set of features that allow our users to invest in a way that suits them; this could be rounding up their card payments, investing a set amount every week, setting a trigger based on their spending habits or even based on your lifestyle (e.g. Strava activity). Essentially we are a micro investing platform for cryptocurrencies. We’ve actually just launched our website donut.io.
It’s been a crazy 12 months. I joined the founders Neel & Jordan approximately a year ago to look after everything product related at the company. We raised our Seed round in January this year, have a killer team of 6 busy building in Kreuzberg and are about to launch our Beta app to users in the US. I spend most of my time talking to users, refining our ambitious product roadmap and working with our team of amazing developers and designers.
Talking to users is so important and I think the agile manifesto is the perfect foundation to incorporate user feedback. You are working agile, how is that going?
Yeah it’s going well. I haven’t worked in any other way previously to be honest. In our case it makes perfect sense as there is no blueprint for what we’re building and thus we have to design and build as we go.
We also like to incorporate customer feedback as soon as possible and tend to follow Khan Academy’s mantra ‘Shipping beats perfection’ - so working agile is great for that as I can rearrange the sprint when required and ship frequently to learn quickly.
You are still building the MVP, so there is no user base asking for features. ‘Shipping beats perfection’ is the perfect mantra, but how do you decide on what to build next?
We’ve been speaking to our prospective users from Day 1. In the early days, when we were just 4 people and worked out of Factory Berlin, I would spend most of my time speaking with customers to understand their main frustrations with investment products, go away and design a prototype and then iterate on the back of more feedback. You’ll be surprised how many people are happy to chat and test a prototype when offered a free vegan donut from Brammibals.
Today, alongside Liam our Lead Product Designer, we do a lot of in person usability & exploratory testing with prospective users in Berlin & Los Angeles. We’re also very lucky to have an active group of testers who help us out in what we call the ‘Donut Test Kitchen’ which is integrated as part of our waitlist sign-up flow. Over 650 people have signed up to help us test features and prototypes! This also allows us an opportunity to ask what problems people are facing and what features they are most interested in. I’m looking forward to be able to marry this qualitative insight with user data once the app is in the wild.
This customer focus is really entrenched in everything we do at Donut such as our Values & Transparency Promises.
Brammbials Donuts are the best, I can totally relate.
How is your current workflow with Scrumpy? Do you use Kanban boards or do you work with Sprints?
We work in two week sprints (Mon - Fri) and use Scrumpy to manage our issues. We love using the tool and makes tracking the progress of the sprint super simple. At the moment we have a simple workflow: Todo > Doing (with a Work In Progress limit of 3) > Review > Testing > Done. We have multiple projects too including the ‘Icebox’ for ideas which we want to return to but are currently not prioritised on the roadmap. This is to ensure everyone in the team can contribute ideas and has a safe place to do so. We also maintain a physical board for full transparency in the office.
I like the idea of setting a limit for stories being in Work In Progress.
We recently added templates for stories, they are still a beta feature. Did you had the chance to test them already? How are your stories structured?
Ahh this was a feature that I requested! It works well, it stops me from having to have a template ticket that I have to copy and paste all day.
We keep iterating on the structure of our stories but as a general rule the story must include the following:
- User Story
- Acceptance Criteria
- Testing Considerations
- Design documentation (Figma links, Origami Prototypes, Notion write-up)
Each story is also tagged with the epic they contribute to and any third party dependencies it may have.
You are a team of six right now, aren't you? How is the current vibe? It’s always a pretty intense time before launch, isn’t it?
Yeah we’re still a small team but are moving pretty quickly. We’re super excited by the response to the website launch and are really excited by what we’re building. I think the key to this is making sure we over communicate, are super transparent, continuously share feedback, prioritise quality and break down stories to small chunks to maintain momentum. But overall the vibe is great. It also helps to have a copious supply of Donuts & Club Mate to fuel the team!
Thanks for all your insights! One last question: I’m on the waitlist, do you have a launch date already?
Great to hear!
We will be launching our Beta in the US this summer before a wider public launch in the winter. We also have a European release in our sights but can’t share too much on that at the moment. Feel free to swing by the office any time if you want to have a go with a trial account!
I'll do that for sure. Thanks, Dan!
Dan is doing amazing things and it’s great to see what he and his team is building. If you are doing great things too or want to talk about your work, don't hesitate to send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. ✌️