Please introduce your company and give a brief about your role within the company?
Headquartered in Ukraine, Steelkiwi is a US full-stack software agency, offering mobile and web development services. I co-founded Steelkiwi with Anton Baterikov in 2011, positioning Steelkiwi as a Python/Django web development company. We formed a mobile app department in 2012 and things really took off. Now, Steelkiwi has 4 major departments: web development, mobile development, quality assurance (QA), and graphic design department.
While Anton is responsible for all technical aspects, I manage non-technical teams such as sales, marketing, and HR departments. My job is to manage and improve the company’s internal processes, analyze clients’ feedback, and make sure our infrastructure is convenient for clients and employees alike.
What was the idea behind starting this organization?
We wanted to offer an alternative to PHP and chose Python/Django as the foundation for our web development services. Being different from PHP development companies, allowed us to offer something new to our customers. We wanted to deliver high-quality products in a time-efficient way so going with python made a lot of sense. One more good thing for us is that today when data analysis and machine learning becomes an essential part of all big products, Python stack gives us all the power we need.
The industry has changed a lot and we therefore no longer focus only on the technology side of our solutions. Instead, we try to deliver meaningful value to our customers by using our technical experience as well as market expertise. At present, we’re building on our expertise in healthcare and restaurant technologies.
What are your company’s business model–in house team or third party vendors/outsourcing?
We have an in-house team and we run projects from two offices located in Odessa and Vinnitsa. Making a leap into the future, we plan on opening one more office in Kiev.
How is your business model beneficial from a value addition perspective to the clients compared to other companies' models?
Our primary focus is valuable and qualitative products that meet our client's business goals, make a positive impact on their business and give the possibility to predict ROI.
We achieve it through excellent communication, reliable technology, and project management. We follow the consultative approach while proposing a solution, not just code written. Therefore, along with classic engagement models such as project-based work and outstaffing, we offer the product development approach. Such type of cooperation means the Steelkiwi team is involved in the marketing and business sides of the future product, taking into account common goals (shared among our client’s team and the Steelkiwi team) and KPIs.
What industries do you generally cater to? Are your customers repetitive? If yes, what ratio of clients has been repetitive to you?
Some industries we cater to include healthcare (multichannel patient communication, clinical pathway management, schedule management, and online doctor apps), the restaurant industry (table booking, self-ordering kiosks, food delivery, pre-ordering, and loyalty apps). Also, we have experience in developing employment-oriented software, education platforms, location-based solutions, travel apps, and entertainment apps.
In terms of categories, we have expertise in building on-demand services, social networking apps, content and media focused solutions, and online marketplaces to connect businesses with clients.
Speaking of return customers, we do have them. When a client returns to us, they usually want to add new features or build a brand new product. The ratio fluctuates year after year because you can never predict whether a return customer may need something again.
Mention the objectives or the parameters critical in determining the timeframe of developing a mobile app. The feature set?
Generally, clients touch base with us to develop a mobile app from the ground up. Other than that, our clients want to improve their existing product or finish it in the case when they aren’t satisfied with their current software service provider.
Considering the above two scenarios, the timeframe always varies.
First of all, we prioritize features for the product from most to least important. Based on this, we decide on the stages of development. This allows us to release a product which comprises the most crucial functionality to the market ASAP.
To sum up, the timeframe depends on the project’s complexity, its features, and whether or not there’s the legacy code. Additionally, we try to evaluate the risks related to third-party integrations like connecting to uncommon payment gateways or tax services.
How much effort in terms of time goes into developing the frontend and backend of a mobile app?
Truth be told, there’s no solid answer to how much time it can take to build a mobile app. Every project is unique and requirements are usually different. A client may want an app with only a few basic features or they may want to include a GPS functionality or real-time data synchronization that require a complex backend infrastructure. The time will much depend on the type of an app the client is building and it’s business logic. Speaking about native app development, I’d say that it may take up 400 to 700 hours to build an iOS app and 500 to 800 hours to build an Android app. But again it’s just a rough estimate.
What are the key parameters to be considered before selecting the right platform for a mobile application?
Of course, choosing the right platform is essential. First of all, you should interview your potential users and find out how they’re going to interact with your app. To do so, you need to describe your startup idea to your target users. You can also ask them how and when they interact with similar existing apps. This will help you create the UX/UI design that’s logical and interactive.
Once you’re done with your target audience, you need to define your target location. This will help you determine which devices dominate the market. The ultimate goal of the app and whether it’s free or not drives the choice of the platform. For instance, iOS users tend to pay for apps they use whereas Android users are likely to download free apps. Finally, you need to make sure your objectives align with your budget frame.
What’s more, if you plan on integrating your app with third-party devices, you should study which platform offers better accuracy and ease of integration. You could always go with cross-platform development if you want to kill two birds with one shot. But everything really comes down to your users and the money you’re ready to spend.
Which platform do you suggest your clients to begin with when they approach you with an idea (Android or iOS) and why?
Usually, our clients have a specific platform in mind. In case when they’re not sure and seek our advice, we analyze the market they want to launch before suggesting the best option. However, if we see that the client can have a larger market share, by going with both platforms, we suggest they build for iOS and Android both. If a client wants to target both iOS and Android users, but the budget or time is an issue for them, we offer cross-platform development with Flutter.
Android or iOS, Native or Hybrid — which platform is best to use to build your app? What are your recommendations?
You must be clear about your objectives and functionality you want to power your app with, that’s number one. Then, you should also bear in mind that Android has a larger market share, compared to iOS. iOS dominates in the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and Western Europe, whereas Android is popular in Central and South America, Africa, China, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and some other countries. So you should definitely take into account the demographics.
If time is not an issue and you’re not pressured to launch ASAP, go for native app development. Native applications perform well, offer excellent security, and UX. If you want to launch faster, you could go with hybrid app development. With hybrid apps, you get the source code with a native wrapper which allows you to capture web and mobile users alike. However, hybrid apps limit users in terms of functionality available on the web. So you need to think about whether you’re ready to sacrifice some features which are not essential for your user journey when accessing your app via a mobile device.
What are the key factors that you consider before deciding the cost of a mobile application?
In most cases, we rely on the number of features and the complexity of design to determine the cost of a mobile application. Additionally, we try to delineate the risks in regard to development which tend to influence the mobile app cost.
What kind of payment structure do you follow to bill your clients? Is it Pay per Feature, Fixed Cost, Pay per Milestone (could be in phases, months, versions etc.)
We usually keep to the three models. The first one is the “time and material” model. After receiving a request from the client, we start finding out the details (if there is no option to extract the scope of work). We write down detailed functional and technical requirements and assign developers to a project. We charge clients a set price per hour of work.
The sister model of the “time and material” is when we fix a team, let’s say 5 people, and charge a set price for their full-time workload.
The third “fixed price” model is built upon estimation. To define the total development cost, we write project requirements and create UX/UI design, which helps us figure out the number of hours needed to implement all features. According to this estimation, we tell our clients how much the development will cost. Any requests or improvements estimated by the team and approved by the client will require an additional charge.
In our billing, we try to be as transparent as possible, providing regular reports to our clients.
Do you take in projects which meet your basic budget requirement? If yes, what is the minimum requirement? If no, on what minimum budget you have worked for?
It’s hard to say in numbers what the minimum budget is. We analyze the functionality our client wants to include and offer different ways of implementation. Products vary, and so do their minimum budgets. The main point here is this: the minimum budget should cover expenses on a high-quality product comprising a set of features that meet the needs of the target audience.
What is the price range (min and max) of the projects that you catered to in 2019?
In 2019, the projects we worked on were worth $25,000 and above. Some projects were really big and the price range went up to more than $150,000.
Which business model do you suggest to your clients enabling them to generate revenue from mobile applications? Why?
Everything depends on the app business model and market, which the app is targeting. We always analyze competitors and offer relevant recommendations. It can be a subscription-based model, revenue through advertising, or it can be a paid app.
It’s essential to understand why users are going to use our product and the value our solution delivers. Once we’ve analyzed users’ pains and gains, we offer monetization model that best suits our client’s app.
Kindly share your feedback on how GoodFirms has been doing so far in increasing your visibility among potential clients.
Since the time our company is featured on GoodFirms, we’ve had 900 people visit our website. Out of these 900 visitors, we’ve had 70 leads.