Aug. 13, 2021

150: Growing Up | Brian Kenny and MiniCorp

150: Growing Up | Brian Kenny and MiniCorp

Brian Kenny is the CEO and Founder of MiniCorp. Brian left the Lego behind at an early age and started building through code. We go deep into how Brian thinks about leading MiniCorp and what makes MiniCorp unique, how his modus operandi has evolved during his career in tech, the critical task of truly knowing your first ten customers, analogies between startups and marathons, and the importance of balance and human kindness.


MiniCorp are based in Dublin and help companies create exceptional digital products and experiences. In short, MiniCorp are your ready-to-go product team. Through years of experience, MiniCorp have created world-class digital products together with their clients. Their digital experiences have touched millions of customers and allow MiniCorp to grow concepts into top startups.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Brian Kenny on the inception point of his life in tech:

“I really enjoyed building things and started off with Lego, but it quickly evolved when I was quite young and my dad got the first computer in our house at a time when literally nobody around town had a computer at all. He took the time to bring that tool into our house, and that really started me on my journey.”

“You start to look at this virtual world where you can literally build anything and absolutely anything is possible. I always thought at that age that you have to wait until you're an adult before you can really go out there in the world and put your own stamp on it. But behind a computer keyboard, you could build anything.”

On the eye-opening moment on the possibilities when Instagram invited him to lunch in San Francisco to talk about an app (Spots) he had built:

“I didn't know what was going on at all. By the end of the meal, I was absolutely walking on a cloud, but then Facebook bought Instagram and the whole conversation about Spots got shut down.”

”Either way, I was just one person with a laptop coding away, and another person in San Francisco wanted to have a conversation with me about something that I had built.  I thought that was just exceptional.”

On his turning point before launching MiniCorp:

“I invested a lot of time in teaching myself how to code, how to design, how to essentially build everything around a digital product. Then I figured out you could spend your entire life with the mission of going to Mars, but as one person, your entire life, you're not even going to get off the ground.”

”The other side is that if you can motivate others with a clear articulate vision, if you can inspire others around you to be a part of that mission together, the probability is significantly increased.”

On the MiniCorp process for working with startups:

“First of all, we challenge the business idea and ask, ‘What is the market? What are you trying to build? How do you know that the market is there? Show me all of the work and research that you've done?’”

“We take all of that and pepper it with our own experience, do our own research and look at similar markets, similar growth trajectories, similar startups that may be in a different industry, companies that have solved subsets of this idea and have either won or failed, so that we can learn from all of those lessons as well.”

“We then come back with a well-rounded product roadmap as to what we need to build and a growth trajectory to get from zero to the first 100 customers, and then to a thousand with a solid plan on how that’s going to happen.  It’s strategy first but we’re also infatuated with growth.”

On understanding the customer before building:

“If you see a trend, if you understand the trend and you carry that knowledge forward with yourself and the product, then absolutely ‘solve for X’. But before that, get to know every nuance, every idiosyncrasy, everything to do with those first 10 customers, and then start to go out to a hundred and get to know them, then thousands or tens of thousands.”

On getting back out into the post-Covid world:

“I think we would all like to be cuddled and cozy on the couch, but getting out there, getting on the road, getting to meet people again, it's a part of my life. It's a part of how I grow this company and how I grow myself, how I progress to things that I would like to accomplish in life.”

On finishing the last 10%:

“This is what makes and breaks people, and it's not just a marathon, it's across every feat of life. It's those people that do the last 10% and don't stop until it's done - It's extremely hard, you have to push yourself, but once you accomplish it, it’s the most amazing experience when you get to the other side.”

On one of the common misconceptions of the startup world:

“People in the startup ecosystem, especially those new to startups, get this idea of hustling and burning yourself out and absolutely trying to work every hour that is given to you. It's madness.”

“It's really about working as smart as you possibly can. It's about doing really good quality work in the hours that you have, trying to make sure that you feel happy leaving the office and spending time with your family.  It’s about getting that balance, getting the actual time for your brain to distill down what happened today to make a solid plan for the next day and integrate the learnings.”

On what people may be surprised to hear about Brian Kenny:

“The thing that people probably don't see until they get to know me a little bit better is kindness.  I thoroughly believe in doing the best you possibly can for people around you, even at the detriment to myself. “

“It would be such a phenomenal world if we all looked after each other just a little bit better. And I think because I'm just surrounded in business the entire time, people think that you're just going 90, you’re just trying to get your thing done. But I will go above and beyond the call to make sure that people feel happy in their skin, that they're doing well both on the personal and business level.”

LINKS:

Follow Brian Kenny on Twitter and get in touch to learn more about MiniCorp

Episode title inspired by Growing Up by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

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Brian Kenny

CEO and Founder, MiniCorp