Product Development


January 23, 2023

The OAK’S LAB WAY: An Introduction to Our Product Development Methodology

The OAK’S LAB WAY: An Introduction to Our Product Development Methodology

The OAK’S LAB WAY: An Introduction to Our Product Development Methodology

Andy Powell

Chief Business Officer

Over the last six years at OAK’S LAB, we’ve built 35 startups currently valued at $1.5B. From B2B SaaS to consumer marketplaces, FinTech to FoodTech, and cybersecurity to social media, we’ve built products that have helped startups across a variety of industries get to product-market fit. Our core service provides product, design, and engineering expertise to early-stage startups from pre-seed to Series A, with a focus on non-technical founders. 

Despite the success so far, I’d be lying if I said it has been an easy journey. We’ve had our share of failures and f**k-ups! But over the years, we’ve learned from these failures. In doing so, we’ve developed a set of working practices which we believe give early-stage founders a fighting chance of getting to product-market fit and building a successful business.

Over the last six months, we’ve been re-refining, re-codifying, and re-documenting our know-how to ensure that every new startup that works with OAK’S LAB is able to benefit from the battle-tested knowledge gained from building products for 35 different early-stage startups. 

The result is the OAK’S LAB WAY–our product development methodology. Over the coming months, we’ll be sharing some of this know-how with the world. In the meantime, here’s a brief introduction to how our methodology works in practice. 


Product development is both art and science. If developing a unicorn product was as easy as following a step-by-step process with documentation and guides, then Adobe would have built, not bought, Figma, Google wouldn’t have a graveyard of over 30 failed products, and 90% of startups would succeed, not fail. 

In reality, building software is an extremely difficult process, and no two startups or products are the same. Ultimately, the success of our startups will be defined by a myriad of factors. That being said, product teams need some level of structure and guidance. Our goal with the OAK’S LAB WAY is to provide a set of frameworks and standards that will give our founders the best chance of success. 

The OAK’S LAB WAY is structured around four key pillars

  • Principles
  • Roles & Responsibilities 
  • Activities
  • Tools

Principles -  Our product principles are guiding values for the OAK’S LAB WAY. They provide some context for how the standards of the OAK’S LAB WAY should be applied. These principles are: 

  • User obsession
  • Success equals outcomes, not outputs
  • Stay lean and don’t reinvent the wheel
  • Relentless focus
  • Discipline fosters innovation

Take a more in-depth look at our product principles!

Roles & Responsibilities - We have five key roles at OAK’S LAB that are deployed as a dedicated team to the startups we work with:

  • Product Manager
  • Tech Lead
  • Design Lead
  • Software Engineer
  • QA Analyst. 

All of the product development processes in the world can’t replace having a driven, quality team. Our roles and responsibilities describe the expectations we have for each person at OAK’S LAB. This includes the skills and traits we look for in each role, alongside the activities they’re responsible for in the OAK’S LAB WAY. This informs our day-to-day work, but also sets the standard for our recruitment team when bringing in top-level talent. 

Activities - Our activities form the largest part of the OAK’S LAB WAY. They provide our team and startup partner founders with a set of standards, tips, examples from past projects, and templates for how to conduct the most high-impact activities that go into building an early-stage product. Within each activity, there may also be techniques that help us reach the goal of that activity. For example, prioritization is an activity in the OAK’S LAB WAY, but depending on the situation, we may utilize different techniques, such as MoSCoW, RICE, or Kano.

At OAK’S LAB we operate a dual-track agile product development methodology, meaning we run discovery and delivery activities simultaneously. This means each two-week sprint we will deliver software through engineering, releasing and testing new features. At the same time, we will discover new features to be delivered in upcoming sprints through testing our hypotheses with customers, prioritizing the roadmap, designing the user experience, and refining these features into epics, user stories, and development tasks. 

Our activities are split into four core categories:

  • Project Setup - The way in which we set up a new project for success. This includes establishing our virtual office environment and creating a foundation schedule to align on the key discovery activities we’ll be undertaking.
  • Discovery - Our standards for the discovery track. This includes everything from setting clear business and product goals to usability testing our wireframes and writing specifications and tickets for the engineering team. Typically, we begin our collaboration with a startup running 2-4 discovery sprints for a period we call the “Foundation Phase”.
  • Delivery - How we deliver quality software. This includes activities such as our standards for code quality, our testing strategy, and the way in which we track our engineering velocity and progress against the roadmap. 
  • Project Collaboration - To support the activities above, quality collaboration between all startup stakeholders and our team is vital. These activities cover everything from our regular schedule of meetings and ceremonies to the way in which we document our work and report on our progress.

Tools - Our tools contain recommendations and standards for technologies and software that empower and accelerate our team’s collaboration and efficiency. This also includes our recommended technology stack for web applications, mobile apps, and marketing websites. 

For Startups

We created the OAK’S LAB WAY and our product principles to focus on building for startups. This means we have to operate in a lean, fast, and efficient way, driven towards business goals. We know that founders have limited time and resources to build an awesome product that their users love and get to product-market-fit. Working with a founder at this early stage is an immense responsibility. Every decision our team makes should have this in mind. 

Ultimately, no product is perfect, and no product is finished! Equally, the OAK’S LAB WAY is neither perfect nor finished. As we build more products and tackle new challenges, we will challenge our existing assumptions and build and iterate upon our know-how. 

I’m excited to share some of this know-how over the coming months on product strategy, discovery, design, engineering, and delivery. Watch this space for more articles on the OAK'S LAB WAY and how we utilize it to build world-class startups.

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