Please introduce your company and give a brief about your role within the company?
Creole Studios is a software design & development studio that focuses on building bespoke software systems on mobile, web, and cloud platforms. We work with clients across the globe, be it start-ups, SMEs, or large corporations. We built apps and systems based on what they need and how their business functions.
My role at the company includes overseeing the high-ticket, top priority projects, and coordinating with those clients. Along with that, I lead the business analysis and design teams to set a precedence on our creative and engineering levels. Lastly, I implement the company’s growth strategy and annual plan by working with the department heads of technical departments, talent acquisition team & accounting department.
What was the idea behind starting this organization?
The idea behind the company was simple: Build software that makes a difference. However small or big the difference might be, it needs to make an impact. There are several software services companies out there today doing the same type of work that we do. But most of them would do any project that is offered to them. They want to ship the product and not care much about its end value for the customer that’s paying money for it. We set up our studio to build products that ensure that the customer gets the worth of the money that he spent on our services.
What are your company’s business model–in house team or third party vendors/ outsourcing?
We’re an in house design & development team. All our processes from conceptualization, design, development, testing, & deployment are done within our studio by our team members. We do collaborate with third-party vendors as and when a project requires us to do so. But mostly the production is carried out within our offices.
How is your business model beneficial from a value addition perspective to the clients compared to other companies' models?
Most companies in our domain follow either a fixed cost model and an hourly billed model. In a fixed cost model, companies quote a lump sum price for the entire project, and when the project is stretched, they are in a loss, and hence, they lose interest in the project, which deteriorates the quality of work. In hourly billed projects, teams get extra comfortable and take the client for granted. They even bill the client for the time they take for resolving the bugs, which isn’t appropriate. Why should the client pay for the mistakes that you made?
Our business model ensures that neither of these scenarios occurs on our end. If we take a fixed cost project, we work out a payment installment structure based on deliverables. Thus, the client releases the payment only when they get some deliverable from our end. This way we ensure that they don’t end up paying more, and it also keeps us motivated to deliver on time to ensure that our cash flow doesn’t get choked up due to our internal delays. For hourly projects, we never bill the clients for our bugs. Our timesheets mention the billable and non-billable hours separately, so all our clients are well aware of the time we spent building their system and the time it took us to resolve all the bugs. All those hours that we on rectifying issues is our internal burn. That’d motivate us to keep our processes efficient so that the burn rate as low as possible.
What industries do you generally cater to? Are your customers repetitive? If yes, what ratio of clients has been repetitive to you?
We’ve worked with businesses from several different industries. Some of our premium clients belong to Real Estate, E-Commerce, FMCG, Personal Coaching, Food & Beverages, Healthcare, Lifestyle & Entertainment, Humanitarian Organizations, etc. Several of our clients from these domains continue to work with us after their first project. Our client repeat rate ranges from 60% - 70%.
Mention the objectives or the parameters critical in determining the time frame of developing a mobile app.
The most critical parameters in determining the time frame of developing a mobile app include a thorough understanding of requirements of stakeholders, bulletproof wireframing, efficient & programmer-friendly UI designs, and finally well-experienced programming teams with excellent logical understanding skills. If all these parameters are checked off, then determining the timeline of developing a mobile app can be done accurately.
How much effort in terms of time goes into developing the front end and back end of a mobile app?
Developing the front-end of the app is as effort intensive as developing the logic of the app. When we talk about front-end, there’s design. There’s prototyping the UX; data is caching locally in the app’s sandbox. Most companies don’t spend so much effort on building the front-end of the app. They integrate the designs given to them by the designers and then straightaway jump into back-end coding. That’s not the right way to deal with the development of the mobile app. If the front-end of the app is developed with proper attention, then it goes miles in offering a remarkable user experience.
Building the back-end of the app is comparatively easy. Yes, it certainly gets complicated, as one has to deal with code and scripts. But it's binary, either you have abn outcome or you don’t. There are no grey areas in that. Hence there are higher chances for more efforts being spent on the front-end side of the app than to the back-end development. As for the exact time needed in both areas, it usually depends on the type of app one develops. If the features are many and complicated, then it takes months; otherwise, if the app is simple and small then it can also be done within weeks.
What are the key parameters to be considered before selecting the right platform for a mobile application?
Following are the key parameters to be considered before selecting the right platform for a mobile application:
• Target audience and its demographics.
• Which platform of the smartphone are they using? Is there one platform being used significantly more than the other?
• Technical feasibility of features. Some features cannot be implemented on the iOS platform considering its closed development environment, while in Android, that’s not the case.
• The budget of the project. Initially, if the budget is less, only one platform can be focused, and later on, the app can be launched on other platforms after gaining some initial traction.
• Competitive analysis. If there’s a direct competitor, then their strategy should be studied before deciding on which mobile platform would be right 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?
As mentioned in the last answer, multiple factors are responsible for determining which platform would be best for the client’s project. This cannot be a personal suggestion based on our preferences. It has to be an objective decision after studying the factors in front of us. But in most cases, it’s better to cover both platforms so that the app gets a maximum outreach from the day it is launched.
Android or iOS, Native or Hybrid — which platform is best to use to build your app? What are your recommendations?
What are the key factors that you consider before deciding the cost of a mobile application?
Following are the factors that significantly impact the cost of building a mobile app:
• List of features
• UI & UX requirements
• Future scalability plans
• Types of functionalities (proven/feasible/research-based)
• Fresh development, or Re-developing from existing code-base
• Single team production, or multi-team with remote/onsite requirements
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 follow two types of payment structures: a Fixed cost model in which we give a lumpsum quote for the entire project’s production, but the payment is distributed across multiple milestones, each associated with some specific deliverables. But if the project is big and involves complicated features, then we also offer an hourly-billed model to our clients, where we maintain detailed timesheets for all the work that we do every day, on each task, and we send these timesheets to our clients at the end of the week. Later on, the billing is done at the end of the month based on the total number of hours that we billed in our weekly timesheets.
Do you take in projects which meet your essential budget requirement? If yes, what is the minimum requirement? If no, on what minimum budget you have worked for?
We have a minimum threshold of $5000. We don’t participate in any assignments below that amount. But having said that, we don’t take in all the projects that have a ticket-size bigger than that. We evaluate each project individually, and then based on various factors, we decide on whether should we take the project or give it a pass.
What is the price range (min and max) of the projects that you catered to in 2018?
Oh, that range is quite significant. We’ve taken projects ranging from $7,000 to $50,000. In 2019 these numbers got even further away from each other. The size of the project isn’t the factor that we’re aiming for. The project has to have some substance, some value, and we should be able to contribute our skills to it. Otherwise, there’s no point in pursuing projects that don’t match our skills and talents.
Which business model do you suggest to your clients, enabling them to generate revenue from mobile applications? Why?
A subscriptions based model, or an intelligently thought-through Freemium model. These are the two most impactful revenue-generating business models in today’s times. Apps like Netflix, Spotify, New York Times, etc have shown the real power of the subscription model. If you’ve got a good source of content that you can distribute, then regardless of the size of your audience, an ongoing subscription would bring in a large chunk of revenue compared to a one-time fee. If you don’t have a constant content, but you do have some irresistibly good features, then it’s best to wrap them up in a good Freemium model where the users can try the primary product for free, then once they get hooked onto it, they wouldn’t think for a second before buying your premium offerings. Candy Crush, Fortnite, Snapchat, Youtube, etc. have mastered this strategy.