Actionable data on indoor air quality

Bespoke software to support hardware innovation

"We didn’t expect to have important strategic conversations when working with a tech company – The Tech Dept unique in that regard"

Ali Munro, co-founder Flutterlab

The problem

Flutterlab had an innovative hardware solution, built alongside a team at Imperial College London. But they lacked the software infrastructure to tie the data together.

Without the software, there was no way of syncing the hardware and the data – and no way for users to easily view or analyse the data.

Before speaking with us, they were looking to use cheap off-the-shelf software, but had concerns that this might constrain them.

So, before jumping into building a solution, we ran a Tech Bootcamp Workshop with the founders, Nick and Ali Munro.

During the workshop we learned that beautiful crafted technology matters to them – think Dyson. They wanted to craft a high quality, British built, engineering product that would attract quality clients who care about the wellness of their building users.

Off-the-shelf software doesn’t signal craft and design.

They needed something bespoke.

Bespoke means being in control of every aspect of the product. It means owning the IP making them more attractive to investors. Bespoke does exactly what they want it to and gives them commercial benefits off-the-shelf tools never could.

“The Tech Bootcamp Workshop was like ‘business therapy’. The North Star and Mission & Vision statement part of the workshop was incredible. The Tech Dept helped us gather our thoughts and see the business objectively. We didn’t expect to have important strategic conversations when working with a tech company – they’re unique in that regard”  - Ali Munro, co-founder Flutterlab

The vision

We knew their vision – to create a beautiful crafted product.

Next, we needed to create a technical solution to match their vision. 

It had to have the highest standards of design quality. And present technical information in a human way.

They knew they had gaps in their team but they didn’t know what – during the workshop we were able to help them find out exactly what to do. That included hiring a hardware expert. 

We created a technical specification - essential for all complex software projects - before starting the build.

“When talking with the initial hardware manufacturers, they said “it’ll be close to impossible to do this”. Tech people bullshit about the topic endlessly. What you need is the facts. What was good about The Tech Dept is they said it’s doable, deliverable and commercial – that was a reassuring conversation that had no shred of bullshit. The evidence of that is borne out by the results. What the other guys where talking about, I just don’t know.” - Nick Munro, co-founder Flutterlab

The outcome

We built V1 of the product using an iterative approach and focused on the real core audience, rather than being all things for everyone.

This allowed us to make the V1 a working product they can deliver to clients and show off to investors.

The software does two things:

1) It’s an Internet of Things and data management solution to allows the software seamless connection with the hardware.

We work closely with their in-house hardware team to set the highest standards of security.

2) And a user interface which allows people to login, see air quality metrics across their building, and see data comparisons.

They recently launched a pilot scheme with Imperial College London in 30 locations across the university.

And they can pitch a live demo in the room with clients: They take a device, with an ipad to show the dashboard, spray a scent and see the air quality metrics change in real time.

We also created all the infrastructure docs to back up for the IT team.

"Most tech people patronise you, when all you want is the facts. In contrast, The Tech Dept are very straight speaking and know what they’re talking about – they don’t feel the need to bullshit to justify their costs. Lots of people in tech create a veil of mystery to justify costs – when business owners don’t understand the tech.” - Nick Munro, co-founder Flutterlab

Next steps

- Rolling out, install and maintenance process to install hundreds of devices.

- Gathering feedback on UI and dashboard to make changes over time. Test, measure, learn process using The Tech Bootcamp.

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