Press Release5 min read

Don’t Hesitate in Reversing Decisions for the Sake of Success

How ProtoPie was developed and a belief turned into reality

Fredo Tan
Fredo Tan, Head of GrowthAugust 14, 2017
Tony Kim ProtoPie CEO

The original article was written in Korean by Juhee Lee from Asia Times and translated under her permission.

“ProtoPie aims to solve the big communication problem all designers deal with”

This is what Tony Kim said, the CEO of Studio XID, Inc., located in the Gangnam area in Seoul, known as the Silicon Valley of Korea.

This year, Studio XID released an interaction prototyping tool for designers, named ProtoPie. ProtoPie enables designers to explain interactive design ideas and animations intuitively and easily. For example, it is rather tricky to explain interactions with drawings or static screen designs. However, by using ProtoPie, designers can build highly interactive prototypes easily that resemble real apps without any help from engineers. In short, Photoshop is a static graphic tool, but ProtoPie is a tool for designing complex interactions and animations easily.

ProtoPie studio
ProtoPie empowers designers to build realistic prototypes without any code and test their designs prior to implementation.

Kim emphasized that digital product designers always suffer from lack of time and resources while they want to work on other design ideas they have in mind. “Designers are supposed to come up with great designs in a rather limited period of time. Due to this, they often don’t have enough time to spend on interactions, that are crucial in one’s experience with a product. Consequently, project roll back or failure occur frequently because of poorly thought-out interactions and insufficient communication between designers and engineers.”

Then, he explained that the idea of ProtoPie started when he worked at Google and Naver (largest internet company in Korea) as an interaction designer. “I worked at Google until 2014. At that time, Google had about 200 designers all over the world. The pool of designers was pretty small considering the broad spectrum of products Google offered. In most cases, designers had to deal with multiple projects simultaneously. Ergo, they didn’t have time for prototyping. The issue here is not whether designers can write code to build prototypes. However, it’s the time restriction designers have for each project that plays a role here. I wish I had a tool such as ProtoPie to streamline my work process when I was still at Google.”

After a long period consisting of heavy beta testing with big tech companies such as Alibaba, the commercial launch took place in January 2017. Within a short period of time, ProtoPie has been adopted by designers in more than 30 countries working for major companies including Google, Yahoo!, LINE, Nintendo, Kakao and Allianz.

Tony Kim co-founded Studio XID in December 2014 and initiated the development of ProtoPie 3 months later, in March 2017.

“Scotty Kim, CTO, was a lead engineer and my colleague when I was dispatched to Naver China. I believed that he could implement my idea since he and I spent much time working together. He knew exactly the problems I encountered as a designer. John Song, CSO, was a principal engineer at startup incubator FuturePlay and decided to help building a demo version of ProtoPie during the incubator program I joined. When I finished this incubator program, I convinced him to join the team. Finally, we were with three and we co-founded Studio XID together.”

Tony demonstarting Google maps like app on his phone
Kim demonstrated how to prototype a Google Maps-like app and deployed it right away on his phone showcasing the support for e.g. multi-touch gestures.

Kim highlighted that for startups hiring good teammates (NOT employees) is the most important thing. “When we hire an engineer, we always suggest to work together for a small project. It’s a period during which we mutually test the waters. This way, we and the candidate can see whether there is a fit. Some candidates don’t have the skills we seek even though they have great achievements on their CVs and vice versa. Currently, we have a very skilled team of engineers. If I would sum up the years of professional experience of our engineers, the total number of years surpasses 100 years.”

Tony picthing at rising expo 2016 Japan
Kim pitched in front of VCs at Rising Expo 2016 in Tokyo, Japan.

The company philosophy is that everything amongst team members should be transparent, except for salary. Bad news is always shared within the team without any filtering. Moreover, each team member has an equal vote when it comes to informed decision making, meaning that Studio XID maintains a decentralized decision making process. Once the decision has been made, the team moves in the same direction.

“In order to being on the same page, we argue like crazy. Since we work with 2-month sprints, we have bimonthly marathon meetings defining specifications for future versions of ProtoPie that could take up the entire day and night. We don’t encourage abuse, but we can discuss aggressively and passionately, hahaha.”

Finally, Kim closes off by stating that the team doesn’t hesitate in reversing decisions for the sake of success. “We reverse a decision if we found a good reason to do so. I believe that’s part of the nature of startups.”

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