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Unlocking Brand Design & Development with Doris Dev’s Justin Seidenfeld

Adrian Alfieri

Adrian Alfieri

Justin Seidenfeld is the Founder and CEO of Doris Dev, a full suite product development agency dedicated to helping brands build products — from ideation around design and engineering, sourcing factory partners, building a prototype, and ultimately bringing the product to market.

The front-end development agency, based in NYC, focuses on concept ideation, design, and engineering, while the back-end manufacturing team in Hong Kong leads full-scale supply chain management, fulfillment operations, and logistics.

We sat down with Justin to uncover his experiences in the product world and examine where he’s seen the most success when bringing products to market. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • How startups can bring a product from ideation to launch
  • Scaling a business to make room for more partners and ideation
  • Tactics to set foundational work for your own product

“Doris Dev can unlock value for brands because all of our team members are programmed as product people. We holistically think about building both processes and products to be unique and efficient.” 


Streamlining the Brand Building Workflow

The genesis of Doris Dev came when several team members, who previously worked at Quirky, aimed to engage brands with a product to be built. From his time at Quirky, Justin knew there was a need, particularly from DTC brands, to get support on building the product. 

The process of working with suppliers and factory partners is a daunting unknown for many organizations – one that has nuanced challenges if you haven’t been in that world. 

Brands come to Doris Dev with a concept and knowledge about how to market and sell the product. From there, Doris Dev can take care of the touchpoints needed to bring the physical product into the world – from design, engineering, sourcing, manufacturing & logistics.

Justin shares they typically like to come in pre-revenue to help support through the ideation phase (initial design) and lead development through mass production. 

The manufacturing process is set up for scale and through a transparent process that’s visible for the brand to take ownership. However, in some instances, brands engage Doris Dev to “fill in the gaps” for what's needed to bring their product to market, which can be just a part of the development & manufacturing chain. 


Doris Dev: Opportunities for Scaling Growth

When looking to scale the business and find that sweet spot between being a small, nimble organization and a 500-person agency with hundreds of clients, Justin’s goal for the business is not to scale just for the sake of growth alone. 

Instead, the Doris Dev team is focused on remaining dynamic, so they can get new product introductions, manage development, and handle any potential operational challenges. 

Their success so far has led them to work with category-leading brands like:

  • Soft Services
  • Pattern Brands
  • Fable Pets
  • Lalo 
  • Thorne 

Justin describes scaling the business structure like a muscle that's constantly being built up, while remaining toned and well-executed, to support all touchpoints. 

This balance has allowed them to continue work with incredible partners and explore building a concept born from internal ideation, and eventually spin it into a standalone company. 

Canopy, a wellness brand that sells products like humidifiers and diffusers, came from this internal ideation process, and now leverages the same Doris Dev services other brands do.


Formulating a Product Strategy

Learning about product manufacturing is no small feat. If you have an idea for a DTC product but don’t know where to start with getting it built, you are not alone. 

Many organizations, from smaller startups, to corporate clients, lack expertise when it comes to navigating how and where to create a product. That’s where Doris Dev comes in. 

Justin’s team leads the innovation process– from design, to supply setup and operational infrastructure. But they keep raw honesty at the core of their mission and aren’t afraid to say no. 

After the first conversations with potential customers, Doris Dev will advise one of two options:

  • Option A: This may not be the best use of time, energy, and capital resources.
  • Option B: Before you spend money to kick off the process, validate your concept.

They know this is an unexpected response, especially to share with a client that wants to pay to work with them. But after five years in the industry, the Doris Dev team wants to ensure there is conviction & capital to get an idea across the finish line.

For the latter, doing additional market validation research often doesn’t require an additional financial investment, and can explore ways to establish signals using existing networks or tools for validation work. 

This approach allows everyone to level set, and there's a high level of confidence (and mutual trust) that Justin’s team can execute on what’s being asked of them.

“Regarding market research and further attempts to validate a product, it could simply require that teams look at Amazon product reviews and hone in on things that people really hate about similar offerings that are already in the market.”


Staying Scrappy & Streamlining Complexity

Justin knows the team can provide founders with the most value in areas where there has been thorough research around the market and customer pain points, but there are still unknowns around how the product can be turned into a reality. 

Brands often need support to explore material and learn about the product's utility. But, Justin notes that some founders have a tendency to hone in on elements that may not be critical to getting to the next step – they get fixated on particular manufacturing parts or ask for tech connectivity for products that may be superfluous to get your product into the world. 

Instead of immediately saying “yes” to every ask and going down a road that likely leads to more complications and challenges, Doris Dev leverages its expertise & know-how to streamline the product + process where possible.

Justin self-describes their work as “showing founders how to be scrappy.” They possess the tactics and skill to bring something to fruition without overspending on upfront costs or time.


Doris Dev’s Playbook for Success

The merchants that Doris Dev partners with span early-stage startups to high-growth corporate clients across an array of categories. Despite that, when it comes down to traits for success, Justin has observed two common themes in the brands and eCom teams he works with:

Stay Nimble

Justin’s team moves quickly, by design.

It’s a strength that makes them highly sought after. It’s important for companies to be nimble and keep up with a fast pace of development work, to stay on track for production.

Stay Engaged

Clients need to be dedicated to remaining involved and engaged. 

From day one, Justin leads clients through the development process and recommends they lean into the educational aspect of learning dimensions of the engineering and supply chain setup. 

Ultimately, the goal is to hand off the supply chain to the client when they’re ready. This requires a certain level of engagement to ensure they can “take the wheel” when ready. 

The Doris Dev team knows a project won’t be successful without the effort around communication and dedication, from all parties involved in the process. 

Additionally, the client needs to be aligned with how a product may evolve through the development process, so it would result in a bad outcome for the work to be done in a non-visible environment. 

“Clients have visibility week over week into progress or any challenges. We don't like working in a black box and want to lead with transparency.”

Adrian Alfieri

Adrian Alfieri

Y Combinator
Liquid IV
Bev
Bev
Muddy Bites
MatchaBar
Remedy Organics
Facetheory
Krave Beauty
Stryx
One Blade
Doe Lashes
Barukas
Red Bay Coffee
Gooey.
Siete Foods
Sunsoil
Ugmonk.
Munkpack
Simulate
Everyday Dose
Backbone
ZBiotics
Semaine Health
Somos
Magic Mind
Uprising
Zox
Huron
XCJ
BelliWelli
Culture Pop
Bubs Naturals
Summer Water
Strong Coffee
Ritual Zero Proof
Wellnesse
Heights
Taika
Immi
Fly By Jing
Y Combinator
Liquid IV
Bev
Bev
Muddy Bites
MatchaBar
Remedy Organics
Facetheory
Krave Beauty
Stryx
One Blade
Doe Lashes
Barukas
Red Bay Coffee
Gooey.
Siete Foods
Sunsoil
Ugmonk.
Munkpack
Simulate
Everyday Dose
Backbone
ZBiotics
Semaine Health
Somos
Magic Mind
Uprising
Zox
Huron
XCJ
BelliWelli
Culture Pop
Bubs Naturals
Summer Water
Strong Coffee
Ritual Zero Proof
Wellnesse
Heights
Taika
Immi
Fly By Jing
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