Introduce your business and what you do there.
I’m the co-founder of I’m in Diary, which is currently a mobile app. It’s based around a calendar, but it has a lot of social networking elements as well. It’s designed to make it easier to organize things with your colleagues, friends, and family. We launched the iOS version in February, and now we’re building out Android and Web versions.
OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE
What challenge were you trying to address with Shakuro?
My background is actually in investment backing, so I didn’t have much technology background when my co-founder and I started. We were looking for an agency that could build it for us, but also support us as we went along. We wanted an agency that offered more than one particular service or one particular language. So, I think Shakuro has that benefit.
What was the scope of their involvement?
They helped us out a lot on the design side for starters. They built out our frontend iOS app, as well as a backend behind it. The frontend is Objective-C and the backend is Ruby on Rails. They also built a CMS for us. On their end, I had a full-time iOS developer, a part-time backend developer, a part-time project manager, and a tester who got involved whenever needed.
“A great advantage of Shakuro is that, for the last year and a half, they’ve always had the same people on our project, which is a huge advantage. ”
I think there are a lot of agencies out there that circulate between the team or have more than one person involved, and things get a bit messy that way. I think it’s much better to have more of a dedicated team, and that’s why we’ve stayed with them throughout this period.
How did you come to work with Shakuro?
We looked around at companies in the UK, Dubai, and India. My partner had done business with Shakuro before, but I don’t know the exact story. From what I remember, I think he basically came across the CEO online somehow. We thought they were the best possible choice. We took into account their professionalism, quality, and cost. That’s why we went ahead with them, and they’ve been very helpful for us.
How much have you invested with Shakuro?
We’ve invested somewhere between $54,000 and $58,000. When I first started, I had no idea what I was doing and made a few mistakes. I think a lot of things they built for me weren’t right, not because of them, but because of what we wanted in the product. So, there were a lot of iterations as we changed things quite a lot. Obviously, creating it from scratch would probably cost a lot less.
What is the status of this engagement?
We first touched based about two years ago, but the bulk of the development really started in the last year and three months. So, we’re talking early 2016 as when things got a lot busier. The bulk of the work was done between January of 2016 and February of 2017. The iOS app was launched in February. We’re now raising money, and we’re going to be updating the app quite a lot. So, it’s ongoing work.
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
After the February launch, we actually got featured by Apple on ‘New Apps We Love’, which was great. Their feedback was that the design and quality of the app were at quite a high standard for a new player. That was really good for us as a company, but also shows the work that Shakuro came up with in the end.
I think it’s a bit early for us to talk about sales and marketing, just because we haven’t done any yet as a company. We’ve been waiting for the Android to be out and changing the product, so I think that’s a bit of an unfair metric. I think the best one is the Apple feature. I’ve met a lot of people who have made loads of apps, but very few of them have been featured, or at least not at our size. To get that, the idea obviously needs to be great, but the execution needs to be good as well. I think they deserve a bit of credit in that space.
We’ve had really good feedback on design. That’s been the main focus for us. We don’t have a lot of the features that bigger companies have, so the design is an important part of why people are using the app. In terms of the code, I ran it past an experienced developer who I trust, and he said the documentation they set up on the backend is really easy to use. The Android developer commented that the backend docs were quite easy to follow, which is quite important as well and something that a lot of people get wrong.
How did Shakuro perform from a project management standpoint?
I think having a project manager was really great. I got very involved, but I just got more involved than I had to. I think they’re quite capable, which is great. I trust them. A lot of the time, I’m hearing suggestions from them, and they have more tech experience than I do. We use JIRA, which is fantastic from my perspective. It’s really easy to communicate with everyone and make sure everything’s efficient. I do trust them to do their thing when I need to. I’d say they generally met the deadlines. In the app world, meeting deadlines is very difficult, and we didn’t meet every single deadline. I can say that they really worked hard to make sure they did everything that was in their hands to do.
What did you find most impressive about Shakuro?
I have been speaking to other agencies and considered hiring in-house developers as well. I think what really stands out to me is that they’re very professional. The project manager we have has just been excellent, and his communication has been great. He’s very responsive, which I think is one of the most important things. He replies to emails and calls, and he’s online when we need him to be. They always keep me up to date on holidays or if people are away. It feels as if they’re part of the company, really.
“They’re just super-professional, and I always know what’s going on there.”
Are there any areas Shakuro could improve?
I think it comes back to the timing. When you’re building new technology, sometimes it’s hard to estimate how long that’s going to take. Sometimes you just find out as you go along. At times, I think they need to manage that process a little better and manage their client’s expectations. I’ve given this feedback to them, and they are learning from that and they’ve been better recently. It’s something you just continue to learn as you’re building things.
We’ve had really good feedback from our users. We haven’t had as many bugs as we expected. We got featured by Apple, and they commented on the design and quality.
It’s a difficult thing to do, and they’ve gotten a lot better at it recently. They’ve improved a lot, and I appreciate that.
It’s very reasonable compared to the global standard.
We’re already running more work through them, and we’re already recommended them to a few other people.