Please introduce your company and give a brief about your role within the company?
I’m a Co-founder and CEO at Uptech a design and development product studio based in Kyiv, Ukraine. We’re a team of 50+ engineers helping companies all over the world bring their bold ideas to life. Our focus is to handle all product lifecycle, from the market and user research, generating and validating prototypes applying the best design thinking methods, design, development, release, and support.
What was the idea behind starting this organization?
While working in other companies, my Co-founder Dima Kovalenko and I felt that the way organizations are run is not the most optimal one. We believe that the team can achieve outstanding results if we create an environment where every team member can reach their full potential. Thus we founded Uptech, and built the work processes based on trust, freedom, and responsibility, made everything transparent inside the organization and stay committed to our mission of creating an inspiring work environment.
What are your company’s business model–in house team or third party vendors/ outsourcing?
All engineers are based in Kyiv, in a single office. We believe in the power of teams working together (even though we allow our team members to have a flexible schedule and work remotely from time to time). We don’t outsource to other vendors, the projects we handle all in-house (or if we cannot handle it in-house, we refer the client to one of our partners, who takes over the project completely).
How is your business model beneficial from a value addition perspective to the clients compared to other companies' models?
We’re a one-stop product studio for clients. We can do almost all parts of the product development in-house by our team. It’s a rare combination of culture and team expertise that is found mainly in the best tech companies such as Facebook or Google. So the clients benefit from working with us without the need to combine different expertise from different teams. We take ownership of our products, working together with clients to solve user needs and achieve business goals.
What industries do you generally cater to? Are your customers repetitive?If yes, what ratio of clients has been repetitive to you?
We don’t limit the industries we work with (we’ve done projects in over 15 industries). The most common are fintech, education, the marketplace, on-demand delivery apps, social apps.
We are blessed to have a lot of repeat customers. In fact, 80% of our new projects come from the referrals of the existing ones. This is a good metric that signifies how our clients are satisfied with our services.
Mention the objectives or the parameters critical in determining the time frame of developing a mobile app.
Our first step when any project starts is to conduct a Discovery. Without the proper Discovery, it’s just speculation about the timeframe of the project. Before that, we roughly estimate how much time/effort such a project might take (with a wide range of the low-high estimates). If the client is okay with the range, we start the Discovery, during which our team analyses the project, conducts research, builds the prototype if needed, and only after that can send the proposal. To give you some numbers, the first version of the mobile app for one platform (iOS or Android) can start in the range of $40,000 — $80,000.
How much effort in terms of time goes into developing the front end and back end of a mobile app?
It really depends from one app to another. For example, for the data-focused advertising platform Advaice that we built, the main focus and challenge were on the backend. On the other hand, for the consumer-focused location-based video chat Yaza — it’s a much more frontend-focused project.
What are the key parameters to be considered before selecting the right platform for a mobile application?
Here are a few questions that you need to answer before selecting the right platform:
• What are your business goals and the expected roadmap?
• Who is your target audience?
• What are the Jobs-to-be-Done of our target audience (or their needs)?
• How will the product solve those needs?
• How do you know that you have a Product/Market fit? If not, what minimal effort can we do to validate/invalidate it?
• How do we plan to reach that audience?
• What is the budget?
• What are the business/user/market/privacy/legal constraints we need to take into account?
• What is the desired timeline for the project?
Which platform do you suggest your clients to begin with when they approach you with an idea (Android or iOS) and why?
It depends on what is the product, in which industry you work, what are user expectations, who are the competitors, what is the budget, etc. Our clients often start with the iOS, and after a few iterations, when the Product/Market found is fit, we develop and bring the Android version up to speed with the iOS.
Android or iOS, Native or Hybrid — which platform is best to use to build your app? What are your recommendations?
It also depends on the product. For example, for the established, well-known brands, we don’t recommend to start with the cross-platform app since it might harm their reputation.
For the less-known brands that are just starting, it might be okay to start with one platform or to start with the cross-platform solution (React Native or Flutter) for the MVP. And migrate to the native solution once they get traction.
In general, we see that the user expectations increase and the quick MVP with minimal functionality is not good enough to start. Thus it’s better to launch on one platform with a good MVP, rather than on both platforms with buggy MVP.
What are the key factors that you consider before deciding the cost of a mobile application?
It depends on the type of product that we work with. Some of the most common factors are:
• The number of features in the app.
• The UX requirements of the product (how smooth/fast the app should work).
• The complexity/quality of the design.
• Offline/online support.
• Types of some specific features/technologies involved (audio/video processing, location-heavy features, video streaming, AI, VR, etc.)
• Edge cases handling.
• Screen orientation support.
• How many different types of devices do we need to support?
and many many more.
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 work according to the 2 models. The first is the Dedicated Team model when the client hires the team to work on the project and pays for the week or month of the work of that team. Such team usually include PM, designer, backend and frontend developers, QA. The benefits of this model that we can start faster and iterate on the go. It works best for long-term projects, as it requires less planning before each iteration.
The second model — Fixed-price project. It requires more planning up-front but allows the client to make sure the project would fit within the limited budget.
Usually, we start with the client with the Fixed-price project for the first MVP version and then move to the Dedicated Team model for the next releases.
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?
We focus on working only with the projects where the full project-team can be assembled. Usually, we start with projects from $40,000 for the first version.
What is the price range (min and max) of the projects that you catered to in 2018?
It depends on the project. The minimum was about $40,000; the maximum was over $500,000.
Which business model do you suggest to your clients enabling them to generate revenue from mobile applications? Why?
It is usually up to the client to define the business model. If the client has not decided yet, we brainstorm and discuss different revenue models, including subscriptions, in-app purchases, fixed costs, etc. The most sustainable in 2018-2019 proven to be the subscription model. But it depends on the product and the industry a lot. Thus I cannot give any strong recommendations without the product/industry details.
Kindly share your feedback on how GoodFirms has been doing so far in increasing your visibility among potential clients.
GoodFirms is a good platform where clients search and compare different vendors. The GoodFirms presence and client reviews on the platform helped us earn credibility from our potential clients.