“Make sure everyone wins”: Nick Kellet from Deploy Software Solutions shares his experience with students

Nick Kellett is the Founder and CEO of Deploy Software Solutions - a company dedicated to helping other companies manage their software projects better. Riipen allows him to work with academic institutions and align his projects with students’ interests. Nick shares how he sets projects up for success by ensuring everyone involved wins.
August 26, 2020
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Sitting down with Nick:

Nick Kellett is the Founder and CEO of Deploy Software Solutions - a company dedicated to helping other companies manage their software projects better. Their vision is to reduce the remarkably high rate of software project failures worldwide by transforming the way companies manage them.

Nick is currently working on a climate change product. This involves a lot of technical research as well as the development of content, tools, and marketing material. Consulting services were an option but it wasn’t the best choice for him because this was a big project that required doing a lot of smaller projects. 

As a small business, it can be very expensive and risky to try new things. Riipen allows him to work with academic institutions and align his projects with students’ interests. So far, Nick has worked on 15+ projects and they vary from IT, computer science, market research, communications, and many more. He even worked on 7 projects simultaneously.

Nick’s approach to Riipen projects:

Nick is no stranger to experiential learning or working with students. He’s had previous experience working with academic institutions, especially co-op students. He finds that Riipen works best when there is a win-win-win between students, professors, and the company. It’s very important that students have an interest in the project involved. 

Start by having a high-level understanding of what needs to be done. All of his projects have different streams. The next thing that needs to be done is to align these things you want to tackle with an in-course project and pitch it to a professor. 

During project kick-off, be super clear about project goals and objectives. One of the goals has to be a good learning experience for the students. This helps students bring their interest to the table. Some students are experienced already, so they can bring their own expertise. Be open-minded and trust the students to do their best work. 

During the project, communication is key. He tries to provide students with support within 24 hours. There should be check-ins at least once every 3 weeks and it’s more efficient to line the meetings up way ahead of time. 

It’s important to be open to the types of results that you can get. Also, the results shouldn’t be time-sensitive. Due to the nature of a semester, there is usually a 3-5 month window from project start to completion. 

What were some challenges you faced?

It was tough at first to manage several projects at once. His solution was to invest in getting organized including gathering materials students ask for, create a full presentation deck, and even developing a project support site for students that contained an FAQ and templates. All of this wasn’t achieved overnight - it took him and his team a few courses to get that done. They started by asking themselves how to make their lives easier and get better results. 

How were some of your results?

Before Riipen, he could only work with and make agreements with local schools such as the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, and Algonquin College. Now, he gets to work with students all over North America and even recently worked with students in Australia. He also had a great experience working with Utah Valley University students. He got their expertise on one of his projects and even gave them funding to develop it. 

He’s already seen results from the deliverables. It was such an overwhelming challenge to look into this product, but through the Riipen projects he’s done, he’s received thousands of hours of research. To help with all the research, he even hired one of the students he worked with for a 6-month co-op term!

Nick’s tips for other companies:

  • It’s a marketplace - There is a lot of potential out there. There is a wealth of students and professors on the platform that you don’t really see anywhere else. 
  • Treat these engagements as investments into your business - You get what you put in. 
  • Timeline is key - Understand that you will get your results and deliverables a few months after the project starts. 
  • Alignment is important - Align what you’re doing from a business perspective with the students’ learning. This helps make sure everyone wins. 
"Look around and you probably have ten different things you want to explore right now but aren’t doing so just yet. You could unlock a lot of information." 

About the author:

Jan Natividad leads the Marketing team at Riipen. He considers himself a lifelong learner and an advocate for growth. His passion for storytelling extends beyond his work in marketing. Despite (almost) rubbing shoulders with Marion Cotillard at the Cannes Film Festival, he’s just a humble tech enthusiast, avid traveler (pre-pandemic), and proud dog dad.  

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