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Virtual Product People to 'deliver digital boost for businesses'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

New venture Virtual Product People, just launched by founders Conor Sligo, Fran Bellingham and Martina Saville, will develop intuitive digital products as and when businesses need.

Sligo - co-creator of remarkably successful online insurance sites LifeDirect, Quotemonster and Trade Me Insurance, and the bespoke My CRM - is embracing the gig economy to connect talented techies with businesses hungry for a digital boost.

"We want to reduce barriers to digital development and enable businesses to tackle innovative projects easily and cost-effectively," says Sligo. "There is a huge amount of untapped talent out there - often parents who want flexible work on concentrated projects. And there are businesses needing this level of skill without the overheads or recruitment costs."

A school pick up chat at a Wellington school playground reconnected Sligo with former Trade Me colleague Fran Bellingham, recent co-founder of pay-as-you-go Virtual Marketers with business partner Martina Saville. "Virtual Marketers has taken off! We’re really filling a gap as businesses can miss out on the skills of an incredibly talented, agile, part-time workforce," says Bellingham. "Our team can come in, apply our creativity, business acumen and experience to help businesses work out what they need, and deliver."

Sligo agreed the business model was ideal for product development. A few more coffee dates with the trio and Virtual Product People was born. "The best part about our work is building relationships with passionate founders and business owners, and making a real difference to them," says Saville. "Adding the product development offering alongside Virtual Marketers will create opportunities for our clients and our team - learning new concepts and extending their networks."

Virtual Product People will match businesses with the right specialists for the right stage of their digital journey. They will provide one-off or ongoing services, including product strategy and management; concept validation and rapid prototyping; user research and experience; digital design; analytics and data science; conversion rate optimisation for online sales platforms; and website and mobile app development.

"Our clients are typically organisations with under 50 employees," says Saville. "All have a need for a digital presence or product, ranging from brochure sites, to sites with a product element (like an online sign up for an offline service), to complex digital products, like tools, ecommerce sites and marketplaces."

"The sweet spot," says Sligo "will be helping companies with lean product validations. Generating an idea and building it quickly and cost-effectively so it can be tested in market. Based on experience, natural sectors will be insurance, fintech, health and eCommerce - but we'll also be a logical fit for a range of SMEs because we offer the ability to have a part-timer working on a project (which reduces the barriers to building stuff). So it could be any business which wants to use tech to scale."

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