Ad-Lib, an innovative startup, took on the audacious challenge of building a comprehensive application from the ground up with ambitious growth targets. They faced significant hurdles: a dearth of product design experience, no internal design or research capability, and the complexities of working with an offshore engineering team.
Enter our team. Over nearly four years, we partnered closely with Ad-Lib’s founder and Head of Product, providing essential design and research support that fueled Ad-Lib’s journey to a remarkable exit in early 2022, selling to Smartly.io for $100m.
The ambition was clear, but the path to realizing Ad-Lib’s vision had its unique challenges. The company was brimming with innovative ideas but lacked the specific expertise needed to shape these ideas into a tangible product. While they had a skilled offshore engineering team, Xenoss, based in Ukraine, the development process was largely driven by assumptions made by the Ad-Lib team.
The absence of an internal design or research capability meant that the user’s perspective, a crucial factor in product design, was not adequately incorporated into the development process. This scenario created a gap in the alignment between Ad-Lib’s vision and the product’s actual user experience.
The goal of rapidly scaling and creating a product that truly resonated with users thus seemed daunting. Ad-Lib needed an experienced partner to understand their vision, infuse user research into the development process, and build a user-focused product to meet their aggressive growth targets.
We worked intimately with Ad-Lib, assuming a fully integrated design and research partner role. The first step was to infuse a user-centered product design mindset into the organization. Working alongside the Head of Product, we illustrated the importance of a well-structured product development roadmap that integrated user research and feedback.
Next, we laid the foundation for good design practices across the company. This step included educating the team about the nuances of product design, the significance of user research, and the benefits of a user-centered approach. Simultaneously, we worked on delivering meticulously researched and battle-tested UI to the engineering team, ensuring their efforts were perfectly in sync with the product’s vision and users’ needs.
Additionally, we provided critical support in scaling Ad-Lib’s team, specifically helping them hire and expand their UX team. The enhanced team further amplified Ad-Lib’s product design capabilities, setting the stage for continuous growth and improvement.
Our collaboration with Ad-Lib resulted in iterative design and development of the application, eventually transforming their vision into a robust, user-centered digital product. We took a comprehensive, step-by-step approach to every challenge, creating a process that not only streamlined the development work but also ensured a final product that truly resonated with users.
In early 2022, Ad-Lib’s hard work paid off. The company was sold to Smartly.io for $100m, a testament to the high-quality, user-focused product they had built with our support. The sale underscored the value of Ad-Lib’s commitment to a user-centered product design mindset and the benefits of their decision to bring us on board as an integrated design and research partner.
Ad-Lib’s success story offers a compelling case for startups and scaleups: even the most ambitious growth targets can be achieved with the right approach and the right partners. We are proud to have been part of Ad-Lib’s remarkable journey, helping them navigate the complexities of product design and user research, and playing a role in their significant milestone.