We talked to Mirko Maiorano of 20tab about working with digital products and with clients who have digital-centric business models, and this is what he had to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mirko Maiorano: Fortunately, we’re all fine. Actually, 2020 was a wonderful year for me as I became a father for the first time, and, in addition to this, I joined a very ambitious product team.
Tell us about yourself, your career, and how 20tab was born.
Mirko Maiorano: I am clearly a T-shape profile, a multipotential, to use a term coined by Emilie Wapnick in one of her TED talks. A multipotential is a person who has taken on various professional roles in his life and worked in many different fields and markets, managing to learn something from each experience. This is what makes a difference in terms of strategic and operational performance, in project and team management as well as in decision-making phases.
To keep it short, I did a thousand jobs before specializing in marketing, and I have to thank every single person and company I have worked with, and from which I have received the various teachings that have helped me shape who I am today.
My career in the digital world began at the tender age of 20, working for an IT technical assistance company and dealing with the installation and maintenance of systems for banks, public institutions, armed forces, and multinationals. Since then, my own path of growth has followed, and sometimes even anticipated, market changes. I started my first IT company at the age of 22, and it only lasted 24 months. Those months have taught me more than a thousand books on economics.
Soon after, in fact, I opened my second company called Mimai: a digital agency focusing on creativity and marketing, through which I have had great satisfaction for 16 years, together with some top-notch colleagues.
In these years, my specializations have mainly focused on online advertising and data analysis. Then came the true turning point. I discovered and studied new growth processes such as Growth Hacking, and I got really into the Lean and Agile methodologies applied to the startup world.
It was at this very moment of my journey that I felt that I was missing something to complete it. I lacked an “armed wing” to grow with and help me face the challenges of a digital market in full revolution.
Then 20tab came along! A dream come true for a professional like me who deals with startups, growth, and strategic marketing. Back then, 20tab was just a digital product development company with super senior skills, but they lacked a strategic mindset in growth marketing, and I was a growth consultant without a product team. Basically, this “marriage” was already written in the stars, and sure enough, it was made official in 2020.
Since we started working together, we have seen an incredible growth: 110 quotation requests in 12 months, a team that has grown from 10 to 18 units, expanding roles and skills in terms of product management, design, marketing, and digital communication, and a 40% increase in revenue. Yet we are only at the beginning of our journey together!
How does 20tab innovate?
Mirko Maiorano: I believe that innovation is, first of all, a matter of mindset and strategic planning. At 20tab, we deal every day with innovation: in business processes, through the development of new products, models, and procedures capable of optimizing the entire company system, and in the product for internal use, for our clients, or to be marketed.
Furthermore, we have created an innovation laboratory within the company, in which we test and validate product ideas through methodologies known as Lean Startup, Customer Development, and The Right It!
Finally, in 2020, we have set up a weekly meeting called Friday Learning as a way to cope with the rapid growth of the company. Every Friday, we give space and free time to our team members to be able to update and train themselves on what they consider most useful for their professional growth.
Training can take place individually or in knowledge sharing, through internal workshops, with the aim of achieving shared and shareable know-how within the company.
How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping with this crisis?
Mirko Maiorano: The pandemic has affected all companies, from the smallest to the largest. Fortunately, we cannot complain since our industry has been the least affected by the crisis.
We work primarily with digital products and with clients who have digital-centric business models. This has allowed us to keep our company safe and to be able to grow faster.
As a matter of fact, the digital evolution of the economy and commercial relations that we are still witnessing has highlighted our strengths as a product team even more, in support of entrepreneurs, institutions, and big corporates that in this period have invested in digital.
Are there any difficult decisions you had to take? And what are the lessons learned?
Mirko Maiorano: We didn’t have to make difficult decisions; rather, we had to deal with some unusual demand. Indeed, we have grown by 7 units only in 2020, and even now, we still have open positions in the company, and we are looking for new figures to be included.
This surge of new clients that we had to manage has confirmed and validated a work that had already been started in the company: redesigning the development processes towards a methodology that allows us to work on multiple projects without having to slow down activities or exponentially increase the number of employees.
After months of hard work, today we are on the market as Product Team as a Service. An approach that allows our clients to be accompanied in the development of a product through a low-risk learning curve and thus reducing the waste of resources.
How do you manage stress and anxiety in this time of health emergency? How do you see yourself and 20tab in the future?
Mirko Maiorano: We do many team activities; we have a scrum master that takes care of keeping all of us aligned on our goals, and through retrospectives, meetings and brainstorming, we can find out the points to improve in order to preserve a positive and constructive work environment.
And I’d like to add that we have always worked in smart working. The team is currently located in three regions and in more than seven different cities.
We certainly miss a lot being able to see each other and be together, even for just one day. But let’s hope these rough times will pass soon and we can return to a more normal social life.
Who are your competitors, and how do you plan to get ahead of the competition?
Mirko Maiorano: When you are consulting at very high levels, your only real competitor is laziness. Not continuing to learn new things, not improving your preparation, and not growing professionally can truly be some major threats.
Other than that, our competitors are companies similar to us, which share our approach and that, precisely for these reasons, we also consider potential partners.
Often, in fact, it has happened to be in competition with a given company for a client but, in the meantime, to work together on another project.
The digital product development market is very vast and is expanding year after year. Its peculiarity being it proves to be well segmented on the basis of the type of demand. Over the years, we have positioned ourselves in a very specific niche of this market: the development of complex digital solutions and products capable of growing in the market.
In fact, unlike many software houses, our team also includes strategic marketing, digital communication, design, data analysis, and product management figures.
This is our uniqueness: being able to accompany and support the projects of our clients from the day of their conception until the growth in the market.
Your final thoughts?
Mirko Maiorano: Covid-19 has brought all of us back to appreciate those social dynamics that had become customary automatisms.
From an economic point of view, instead, it has made us understand that, as managers and entrepreneurs, we have an additional responsibility from now on: to be prepared for the unpredictable, avoiding in every possible way to postpone or neglect the innovation processes that we must implement, in order to guarantee a future for our company, whether it be a multinational with billions of dollars in revenue or a small local store.