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50 Fastest Growing Companies of the Year 2021

Tiago Franco, Founder and CEO of Imaginary Cloud, Speaks to The Silicon Review: ‘We believe technology should improve people's lives and, for that reason, we are committed to delivering outstanding and top-quality digital products’

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“Imaginary Cloud innovates by changing how digital products are built: we put users in the center of the product/solution following the best industry practices.”

Imaginary Cloud is a software development and UX/UI Design company that helped several organizations design, build, launch, and scale 200+ web & mobile applications in the last 10 years. The company offers its services to some global leaders like Nokia, BNP Paribas, and Thermofisher.

Imaginary Cloud was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in London, UK.

Tiago Franco: Interview Excerpt

Q. Explain your services in brief.

Imaginary Cloud is a Software Development and UX/UI Design expert company that has already helped build, launch, and scale more than 200 web and mobile applications. With 11 years of experience, we have had the opportunity to develop projects for the most diverse industries, ranging from Healthcare to Tourism, Fintech, etc. Our agile approach has contributed to the business profitability of companies like ElsaSpeak, Thermo-Fisher, Nokia, and BNP Paribas.

We believe technology should improve people's lives and, for that reason, we are committed to delivering outstanding and top-quality digital products. Currently, our offering consists of UX Audit, Mobile and Web App Development, UX/UI Design, and Staff Augmentation services.

Q. How does Imaginary Cloud innovate?

Imaginary Cloud innovates by changing how digital products are built: we put users in the center of the product/solution, following the best industry practices. Plus, we are well aware that technology and the users' needs are in continuous change. The only way to face those changes is to ensure we have the ability and resources to adapt quickly and provide innovative solutions.

Traditionally, solutions were developed according to a set of inputs and outputs that would fulfill specific requirements without considering whom they were destined. Following a user-centric approach, we can identify what users really want right from the start and how the product will address their needs. This way, we ensure that the project's features and goals are met, contributing to effortless user adoption.

Q. Specialized services come with an expensive price tag. How do you maintain your affordability and profitability?

Maintaining affordability and profitability is only possible with operational processes, efficiency, and pristine business. We're in constant improvement, which allowed us to mature our way of working over the years. We're competitive without sacrificing the projects' quality. Delivering in the most cost-effective and timely manner is a priority, and we can affirm we are successfully generating higher income for our clients.

Q. With the ease of using any software, there often comes the cost of losing some vital customization features. How flexible is your service for customization?

Any good process must be tailored and adapted to each client's specific needs. We kept this best practice in mind when designing our three software processes: the Agile Development Process, the Product Design Process, and the UX Audit Process, each targeting a specific phase of the product life cycle. These methodologies allow us to think in the long term while executing in the short term. In other words, they allow us to ideate, plan, and execute based on valuable market research findings that can add extra value to improving a product's performance. This way, it's possible to identify users' needs, deliver new features within short time frames and respond/adapt quickly to change.

As a matter of fact, we have written the "Product Design Process" book, a manual on designing and building cutting-edge digital products. Several Management Universities have already adopted our Product Design Process as part of their official academic program for Product Design or Business Innovation subjects.

Q. How do you source quality professionals, and how does the team stay updated about new industry/market demands?

At Imaginary Cloud, we're always looking for the best professionals with the most particular characteristics to join our team. We hire highly skilled individuals with a strong tech background who are passionate about creating innovative products and enjoy seeking ways to grow their talents. Since we aim to become one of the world's best tech companies to work for, we deeply care about addressing our people's needs during their journey with us. Listening to their thoughts makes us aware of eventual negative situations we want to avoid, like burnout.

Additionally, we foster a "stay up to date" culture, sharing the latest industry trends and market best practices with each other to discuss the topics. This way, we ensure our team can provide the most suitable solutions for any project at hand. Plus, it also motivates the way everyone works and contributes with fresh ideas.

Q. What is the impact of a UX Audit, and what are its benefits for customers?

Running a UX Audit could positively impact both clients and their customers. It will unlock priceless insights, increasing customer satisfaction, engagement rate, and conversion retention. Consequently, the benefits of executing a UX Audit can lead to a sustainable competitive advantage and higher revenue. In other words, a UX Audit will aim to provide the end-user with a smooth and easy user experience. The more positive the experience is, the more satisfied users will be, increasing their likelihood to return, being more engaged, converting more, and even recommending it to other users. These are all benefits that inherently impact and contribute to the business's success too.

Q. Have you already conducted a UX Audit for a client? What were the results?

Yes, we have already conducted a UX Audit for several clients. As an example, we can talk about Learninghubz. To present a bit of context, they are a learning platform focused on organizations to deliver business and technical skills. They reached out and shared the following three goals they wished to accomplish:

To increase the number of active users (p/month)

To increase the number of videos watched (p/month)

To improve the average visualization time per active user

We put our process into practice and immediately performed in-depth research, followed by a detailed evaluation which allowed us to identify precious insights and point out actionable recommendations.  Last but not least, the third step - the Execution - was a success, due to the outstanding work done in the previous steps. Three months after the improvements, Learninghubz had a 20 percent increase in active users/registered users, a 15 percent increase in learning time, and registered +50 percent mobile usage. They had great feedback from their overall users as well as their primary stakeholders.

Q. Do you have any new services ready to be launched?

We just launched our new UX Audit service to join our current offer. This new service aims to boost a seamless user experience by pinpointing critical areas and identifying digital products' usability issues. By the end of this year, we plan to launch some new processes in the Data Science and Artificial Intelligence fields. As digital products are becoming more and more complex every day, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence can be used to address many pains, and these services are being designed to deal with complex problems.

Q. What does the future hold for your company and its customers? Are exciting things on the way?

For the near future, we have three main strategic goals. The first one is to keep growing in markets where we already have a significant stance: USA, UK, Central Europe, and the Middle East. As the second goal, we will bet on expanding and developing new markets, which will enhance our portfolio. Finally, we will introduce a new Data Science service and launch a new Masterclass program where industry experts will deep dive into the tech world's most relevant topics and bring them to our community.

The Leader Upfront

Tiago Franco, Founder, serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Imaginary Cloud. He is a Software Engineer, started his career on complex and quality-centric software projects (software for CERN, satellites for ESA, etc.). Developing software with quality in mind is something that the startup world or the big companies' innovation departments often lack. To bridge this gap, Imaginary Cloud was created in 2010 and, since then, the company has helped more than 200 companies worldwide. Tiago is also the co-author of the Product Design Process book, our manual for digital product design that is currently used in many worldwide universities' academic programs.

"Our new UX Audit service aims to boost a seamless user experience by pinpointing critical areas and identifying digital products' usability issues."