In part one of this two-part Fireside Chat, Andrew Tull, partner at Tailwind Business Ventures, sits down with Will Furrer, Q2’s chief strategy officer to talk about a major challenge in the digital banking universe: the industry-wide backlog for delivering innovation. Amid today’s rapidly transforming digital expectations, many banks and credit unions are throwing their hands up when it comes to keeping pace.
To address this, Tailwind has joined forces with Q2 to offer a new solution for this decades-long challenge. Let’s take a look.
|Andrew Tull||Will Furrer|
|Partner, Tailwind||Chief Strategy Officer, Q2|
Will Furrer (WF): Thanks for taking the time to chat with me today, Andrew. I want to first get some background on Tailwind. How did you start the business? And how did you end up in financial services?
Andrew Tull (AT): Absolutely. I’m one of four partners here at Tailwind Business Ventures who came together several years ago with the intent of providing a different way of doing custom software development. A lot of people like to throw individuals at a project, whether from a staff augmentation perspective or through the approach of “more bodies makes more work,” but we don’t always think that’s the best way to do things.
The mantra behind Tailwind isn’t “Software as a Service,” but “Software as a Relationship.” In other words, the relationship between a particular individual and a company to achieve mutual goals is paramount. With the Innovation Studio, we’ve successfully implemented this with what’s now a roster of about 30 to 35 different projects for a whole host of customers across the country and internationally.
We have about 225 people at Tailwind, with 90% of our team comprised of senior level development such as business analysts, UX specialists, core developers, and delivery personnel—all dedicated to furthering this cause.
WF: Tailwind’s story is an important one to tell when it comes to an industry-wide pain-point—slow innovation delivery. What stood out to you about Q2 for this initiative?
AT: Three words come to mind—strategic, opportunity, and partnership.
Our work with Q2 is strategic because every customer wants to deliver unique functionality, and we want to help them bring it to life. However, there’s a huge backlog issue in play. In today’s climate, most small/mid-sized FIs must figure out how to replicate their in-person experience to a fully digital relationship—and do so quickly. This may involve integrating to single sign-on, making navigational changes, or adding new chat capabilities to be more user-friendly. Q2’s Innovation Studio is a fundamental mechanism in this because it provides a list of functionality points for any custom development need. We want other partners—whether it be fintech partners, development partners, or even customers—to integrate that functionality into their own technologies in the same way.
The word ‘opportunity’ stands out because there’s a wide spectrum of integrations that need to happen for our customers—some simple, some complex—but there isn’t anything that can’t be integrated into the Innovation Studio. We want to make them all possible, both quickly and efficiently.
Lastly, ‘partnership’ stands out because with the Innovation Studio, we’re not just thinking of the first project; we’re thinking down the line to proactively help our customers and look at additional opportunities going forward. This allows us to build on our relationships more
If a customer needs something before year’s end, the Innovation Studio program has made it possible for us to start moving on a project right away and meet that goal—often in a matter of weeks versus months and under budget. strategically. Our favorite phrase is, “how can we help?” At the end of the day, the Innovation Studio is helping us better help them.
WF: What kind of feedback are you receiving on the Innovation Studio? And how is it different from other custom integration projects you’re working on?
AT: I can say from an internal perspective that the level of detail and documentation that has been provided from the Q2 team, as well as the willingness to support and shortcut around questions we have has been exceptional. The presentation of the Innovation Studio, as well as the follow-through and support from the Q2 team has been really great.
WF: What has this meant for your business and the relationships you’re forging? How confident does this make you feel about the forecast of a highly saturated market?
AT: At this point, we have somewhere between 8 to 10 folks primarily dedicated to Q2-related work on our team, and we’re looking to double this size over the next three to six months for projects we’ve gained through those relationships. It’s a very strategic partnership for us and represents the fact that fintech is in the top three verticals we’re spending time on. We’re running with it.
WF: What do you anticipate that market to look like in the next few years for Tailwind?
AT: The partner team at Tailwind has decided to invest heavily in Q2, including backend processes and systems like ongoing knowledge transfer and people placement. We see a substantive and regular upward growth with the Q2 team going forward, and not just within the next year, but beyond.
WF: Can you talk a little more about the specific problems you’re solving? And what these projects look like?
AT: A specific problem-set we’re working on currently is quick turnaround for single sign-on integration. For one customer, this was backlogged with the Q2 team and slated for about six to seven months, which didn’t meet their business requirements. Q2 knew this timing was an issue and brought it to us.
The facilitated introduction from Q2 throughout this process has cut our lead time down from roughly eight weeks to just two weeks.
By the time we got the discovery process ironed out, we had a master services agreement in place and were ready to start work in about a week or two. This was a relatively simple project but the customer needed it in a month. Overall, we were able to deliver on it quickly and efficiently, meet their deadline, and save them a pretty penny—which also allowed us to ramp up about four other projects for them that otherwise wouldn’t have been considered.
Three words come to mind — partnership, strategic, opportunity
If a customer needs something before year’s end, the Innovation Studio program has made it possible for us to start moving on a project right away and meet that goal—often in a matter of weeks versus months and under budget.
WF: What has this done for your relationship development and pipeline?
AT: Ultimately, people like to work with those they know and trust. Customers that have successfully completed two or three projects with us are now talking to their peers about it and spreading the word, which is a quicker, more credible way to form relationships. The facilitated introduction from Q2 throughout this process has cut our lead time down from roughly eight weeks to just two weeks.
Tailwind is one of several certified development partners in Q2’s Innovation Studio program. If you’re a custom development group interested in learning more, you can visit our developer site at https://www.q2developer.com or contact us at https://www.Q2developer.com/contact.
Next, we’ll explore a customer’s perspective. Stay tuned for our upcoming chat where Will Furrer speaks with Zach Eychaner, senior VP of remote services and technology at 4Front Credit Union, a Q2 customer using the Innovation Studio and partnering with Tailwind to deliver leading-edge, custom banking services.