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Wolt’s founder Elias Aalto on mobile development: “It’s hard to find people who are committed to the story”

In this article, Elias Aalto, the founding member of Wolt and Qvik, gives some good advice to digital product managers. On top of that, he gives some not-so-safe, don’t-try-this-at-home kind of advice.

Building software is like building an empire, says Aalto. You need to make your product look bigger and more magnificent than it is. In this game, all magic tricks and smokey mirrors are allowed.

“You can do anything, as long as the user doesn’t see through your bluff”, Aalto says.

When talking about mobile development and building the best digital products, Aalto takes us back to the basics. In order to succeed, you need to have three things:

  1. A passionate team
  2. An audience
  3. The will to adapt to the behaviour of your audience

If you don’t have any of these, all the data in the world can’t save you. Aalto also emphasises the importance of hiring people who actually care about the product.

“You can’t teach people to be passionately interested in good user experience, and it’s hard to find people who are committed to the story,” he says.

Here are Aalto’s tips for POs and product managers. Although they worked with Wolt, they might not fit every situation or organisation. If you don’t feel like following the advice word-to-word, maybe try adopting the attitude behind them.

1. QA is not your friend, Aalto says

According to Aalto, good quality assurance can make designers and developers sloppy. If your team relies too much on the QA safety net, they won’t be precise in what they do and the outcome won’t be as good. Following this logic, Aalto encourages you to hide the QA as well as you can.

2. Don’t put the bug tickets in the ticket graveyard

If you or your team have a habit of putting the bug tickets on the notorious backlog board, stop that and start fixing the bugs.

“If there’s a bug in your product, you should feel physically ill until it’s fixed”, Aalto says.

In other words, you should care enough about your product to want it to be bug-free and the best it can be.

3. Clean up your own mess

Aalto once did an update on Wolt and accidentally logged out all the restaurants from the service. This was an epic scale oopsie that could lead to losing a significant amount of business and had the potential to cause serious harm to Wolt’s reputation.

Instead of going to bed with that in his head, Aalto did an all-nighter, hacked his own system and was able to log everyone back in without any damage done.

You may not have messed up as badly as Aalto did in this example, but this applies to smaller blunders just as well. If you make mistakes, admit it, take responsibility and fix things.

4. Forget strict deadlines

Aalto encourages you to set fake deadlines to keep things moving forward. But don’t push the team too hard. Leave them some breathing room so that they can do their best and don’t have to compromise.

5. Go native if you want to be the best

Aalto is an iOS guy and hates Flutter. His advice is to always go for the best UX and build your product on native technology.

“If you want to be the best, you should go native. And why would you not want to be the best?”

We at Qvik are currently working on new material to help you choose the right technology for your project. Meanwhile, you can check out Lassi A Liikkanen’s article Native, hybrid or cross-platform? Choosing the right app technology goes a long way towards commercial success and Christophe Riolo-Uusivaara’s article How to choose a programming language for your project? Avoid these biases.

Join Qvik’s next Digital Product meetup?

Elias Aalto was the guest speaker at Qvik’s previous meetup at the end of November. He shared his thoughts on how and why Wolt became one of the best-known digital success stories in the Nordics.

Qvik’s Digital Product meetups are knowledge-sharing and networking events for everyone who has or shares the responsibility for a service and its development. Our next event will be on January 19th with Lauri Rusanen, the product owner and team lead of Kesko’s K-Ruoka app, as the guest speaker.

Rusanen has a long history in Kesko’s digital development, and will share real-world takeaways from K-Ruoka app’s renewal – including tricks for making multiple platforms thrive while efficiently developing them side-by-side.

Sign up to the next event from this link – see you there!

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