Kurt Schmidt is focusing on business development as newly promoted president of Foundry, a Minneapolis-based digital product design and development firm.
Schmidt, with more than 20 years of industry experience, joined Foundry a year ago as director of strategy. He will continue working on strategy while interacting with clients and the software community. That interaction will come partly through his weekly podcast, “The Schmidt List,” which features local tech figures and colleagues.
Foundry’s services include custom digital product design and web and mobile app development. Co-founders Nils Hansen and Robert Nelson, who launched the company in 2015, now serve as chief executive and chief operating officer, respectively.
Schmidt has developed Foundry services in the form of fixed-cost engagements including a product design workshop.
The two-day workshop fleshes out a client’s idea, arrives at a cost estimate and may produce initial design sketches, Schmidt said. Other offerings include a service design workshop, a user interface audit and a technical audit.
“The more we’ve productized our front-of-the-house services, the better it’s been for clients to feel less afraid of custom software,” Schmidt said.
With startups making up about half of its business, Foundry plans to open a San Francisco office by spring.
Foundry has eight employees plus contractors at its WeWork Capella Tower space, Schmidt said. This year, the company hopes to add five or six employees here and a similar number in San Francisco.
Schmidt was project management director at the Nerdery for six years before joining Foundry.
Q: How is Foundry different from other firms?
A: Our team is half designers and half developers. They sit next to each other, which makes a developer’s job easier, to lean over and ask a question. … We take a product approach while a lot of other places take a project approach. Most of these software products are never done. You’re always updating and maintaining them or adding features.
Q: What’s the value of that approach?
A: The consistency. If there’s one thing that custom software needs to be great, it’s consistency, consistency of concept, design and implementation. You add all that together, you can save a ton of money.
Q: How does the Foundry leadership function now?
A: Robert is in charge of development, the processes and how we run an agile development group. Nils is in charge of the design group and how we solve business problems through design. I’m working heavily on the business side with clients to help them understand how this is going to change the way your biz works and how our software is going to change and grow your business.