It was my first start-up experience. ASK-CS was a ten-year-old company, and they were looking for a spin-off. I worked closely with a squad (of five) to create a unified communication platform. I designed almost everything regarding this service visually and worked closely with developers and the operational manager. I sometimes acted in sales and marketing. Although we found an investment, the offer wasn't finalized due to the ownership structure. I left the company after not being able to secure any founder shares.
What is ASK-Fast?
ASK-Fast is a cloud communication company offering software developers a dialog-enabled simple Web API. Developers can easily integrate automated voice and text communication solutions into their web and mobile applications using ASK-Fast API. ASK-Fast supports mainstream communication media, including VoIP, SMS, Email, Gtalk, Twitter, and Facebook. A dialog marketplace offered by ASK-Fast allows developers who are also business owners to promote their dialogs and engage a much larger user base. ASK-Fast enabled business communication solutions are currently being used in 26 countries by many clients of ASK Community Systems.
Here is an example of dialog from ASK-Fast:
This service was in use by KNRM – an organization that had a lot of volunteers. The availability of the volunteers can show variety, and volunteers can use phone, SMS, and e-mail to change their availability.
Here is another example of dialog from ASK-Fast:
An automated, dialog-driven SMS tool for asking basic close-ended questions and gathering the answers from the receivers. The tool has been tested with the design and development team in appointment arrangement and team context. Since it is a generic tool, it has been tested in different contexts to understand the possibilities of dialog-driven communication in service oriented businesses.
- Reframing the business problem with the operational manager and founder of ASK-CS
- Designing a brand identity and visual styles
- Leading user studies and prototyping
- Facilitating workshops for developing experience
- Acting as sales and marketing person
- Hiring and leading an off-shore team to develop Santral (Virtual IVR – Interactive Voice Response) and Broadcast app (Sending message with using different communication channels) for improving and debugging API
- Driving scrum and product roadmap planning
Santral – Developing a business and also checking API documentation
We want to check how developer-friendly the ASK-Fast API was. For that reason, I came up with the idea of hiring an off-shore team with a clear business case, and our operational manager approved it. I created the design and shared the API documentation with the off-shored team. We found a lot of improvement points to enhance our developer experience and reiterated the development center.
Here are some one-page promotional websites, in-app screens, and logos. I also tested these screens with the users, but as said, our priority was to collect evidence if a novice WordPress developer could use our service with self-service help and documentation.
I worked very hard and felt very much ownership to this project. It helped me to stay motivated, and I delivered more than a designer. I had different expectations when I started and I should have communicated my expectations in a clear way. In the later stages, we had more conflicts with the founders. I learned much from my peers, especially Xiaoyu. Lastly, I also learned that securing an investment could still go wrong due to the other legal entities obligations. I still remember the table tennis breaks.
Start-ups are not easy, but it matched my autonomy seeking role. Within the proper setup, I would like to try another start-up experience again.