Please introduce your company and give a brief about your role within the company?
Here at Chop Dawg, we’ve built 300+ next-generation apps — from mobile and web apps to blockchain and A.I. technologies for startups, Fortune 500s, growing businesses, and non-profits around the globe. We work alongside each of our clients to “Make It App’n”, guiding them through the process of bringing their idea from conception to a launch-ready app. As CEO, it’s my job to ensure our team has the resources needed to help our clients thrive, and that we are always improving our services by identifying long-term opportunities to grow Chop Dawg, inside and out.
What was the idea behind starting this organization?
When I founded Chop Dawg back in 2009 at the height of the last recession, I had the burning notion that small, local businesses needed a website to compete. So, I started designing websites. It was an idea that came to me suddenly in the basement of my childhood friend’s home (I was sixteen). But at the time, it was a novel idea and quite newsworthy, so I got some media attention and in just a few short years, Chop Dawg grew to a full-scale web design agency. But it was right around 2012, as the app store grew exponentially in popularity, that we decided to pivot from building just websites to building apps.
The idea for Chop Dawg has always been to meet the current technical needs of non-technical businesses. Non-technical businesses struggle to find, hire, train, and maintain designers and developers and so we want to be the partner that can provide everything at a fraction of the cost of hiring technical talent in-house.
Over the years, we’ve needed to adapt our business to meet those needs. The current demand is mobile apps, but that won’t be the demand tomorrow. Our mission is to address the technical needs of businesses that need our expertise the most. So I’m already studying how we can adapt our business as we head into the next decade to meet the emerging needs of the businesses and entrepreneurs we serve.
What are your company’s business model–in house team or third party vendors/ outsourcing?
Our app development model has always been 100% in-house. While I’m not against outsourcing (and we may even partner up with companies in the future) this needs to be done with care.
Whenever you bring a partner on board to handle an aspect of your services, you need to make sure that they are operating at your standard of quality. Having an in-house team has made quality control effortless for us, and allowed our mutual desire for building the best quality apps to be our growing mission. Having an in-house design and development team here at Chop Dawg has also enabled our team to evolve and grow together over time, as many team members stick around for the long-term.
How is your business model beneficial from a value addition perspective to the clients compared to other companies' models?
Our unofficial motto is to “think partner, not agency”. We don’t want our clients to feel like they are working with an outside agency, but are truly working with a technical partner that has their backs.
Communication is the single most important factor here. If we were to outsource different operations, it would start to break down that feeling of 1:1 communication that our clients have with us now.
Compared to other agencies, our clients have told us that when working with us, they feel like they are the number one focus. And while we are working with a lot of clients at once, the key is to make sure that clients always feel like they are your #1 and (even more importantly) for the results to consistently show that, too.
What industries do you generally cater to? Are your customers repetitive? If yes, what ratio of clients has been repetitive to you?
Our core company mission is enabling those with a vision to take it from an idea, to a functional product of the highest quality; changing the way we interact with the world. We’ve never pigeonholed ourselves to any one industry, so we’ve been able to learn about and have our own unique technological impact across many different ones. Our process is extremely collaborative, as we rely on our client’s feedback and unique expertise, combined with our technical savvy to “Make It App’n!” So over the last ten years, working with companies across many industries creating apps, we’ve picked up a thing or two and have been able to pass on this knowledge and know-how to our clients as we go along! About half of our clients continue working with us even long after their app is launched.
Mention the objectives or the parameters critical in determining the time frame of developing a mobile app.
We carefully scope clients’ projects from start-to-finish by defining all of the design and development requirements before any contract is signed. Every single deliverable is discussed between our Director of Account Relationships, a hand-picked Project Manager, our designers, and our developers. We ask our prospective clients to provide the most amount of detail that they With that, our team uses our extensive experience building apps, which shapes their estimates on how much time each deliverable will take to complete.
We will determine that amount of extra time that might be needed just in case we run into issues like bugs. That is incorporated into the timeframe. A lot of applications have elements that are transferable to other applications. So the key is to have a repository of all the key functions our programmers have ever built so that we can understand how long it takes to build out specific functions, and how long it’ll take to implement any given project we are taking on.
How much effort in terms of time goes into developing the front end and back end of a mobile app?
This largely depends on the size and scope of the app in question. While every app is different and comes with its own unique set of needs and features, we can estimate based on our experience the average app will take 2-3 months to design and 4-5 months to program. But so many factors can have an impact on project timeline, so we always try to prepare our clients and team to expect the unexpected.
As a team, we are always working to get things done faster without sacrificing quality. One of the keys to maintaining quality is having the frontend and backend team on the same page. There needs to be a great amount of thought, effort, and collaboration put into both sides of your app to ensure a cohesive product.
What are the key parameters to be considered before selecting the right platform for a mobile application?
How scalable does the app need to be and can the platform accomodate all of the functions that the client wants? I’m going to go into this in greater detail during our interview, but I believe that scalability is the single most important factor in determining what platform to go with. Think about where you want your application to be tomorrow, not just today.
Which platform do you suggest your clients to begin with when they approach you with an idea (Android or iOS) and why?
Now, we can come up with beautiful, scale-able apps for clients that can do so much more for so much less money, which really brings down the cost of entry for businesses and non-technical entrepreneurs with a great app idea. The best part? Some of the most popular apps in the world today are built using React Native. So rest assured, your app is in good company.
Android or iOS, Native or Hybrid — which platform is best to use to build your app? What are your recommendations?
It’s most important to build an app that is scalable for what you’re trying to accomplish a year from now, and ten years from now. That said, we recommend hybrid apps built using React Native for this exact reason in terms of cost, but it’s up to each client to research what’s the best platform for their app. While currently the most popular delivery method for apps is via smartphones, with 5G on the way, this will not be the case in just a few short years. Think about this: we can build an app that can be designed for VR (React 360), web, mobile, cars, and TV all using one codebase. That is why we are so bullish about building React Native apps for many of our clients today.
We are always researching what the next solution is going to be, too. It may not be that React Native is the most scalable solution even a year from now. But for now, it’s the most scalable.
What are the key factors that you consider before deciding the cost of a mobile application?
Everyone needs to be on the same page when it comes to the project scope, down to every single granular detail and function that will need to be on the application. There is a reason why our clients have pointed out that we provide some of the most in-depth proposals in our industry.
When prospective clients come to us, they mostly know what they want. But they don’t necessarily know what needs to go into making certain things happen and the technical specifics. So we first have them write out what we call a Book Of Genesis. Think of this as writing your app in plain-English rather than in code. We want our prospective clients to really think about every single granular detail that they want.
Our Director of Account Relationships then reviews this Book Of Genesis, and brings it over to our designers, developers, and project managers. That way they can all communicate with each other and determine the hours required, and therefore the cost for each individual project that comes our way.
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 are fixed cost and we split payments by the month, which corresponds with various milestones. If there are any delays on our side, we will not charge clients for that. We don’t want to be hourly because we don’t want clients to pay for our time, but for our results. That being said, when we think of our fixed cost, we are thinking about the features in the scope. So what we will tell prospective clients is the potential cost if they were to add or eliminate features.
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?
The average cost of an app ranges between $50k-$75K, with an MVP starting at $25K. For potential clients that don’t have that kind of money to spend up-front, we always recommend going for a non-functional prototype (NFP). NFPs are more of an entry-level service, where we stop at the product flows but also make them interactive. Think of this like an app without a brain. This way, clients can demonstrate their apps if they need to raise money or get proof of concept. These NFPs typically cost $10K-$20K to create and once clients are ready to move forward with programming, the design is already done. This saves on future programming costs because the design has been built with programming in mind already!
What is the price range (min and max) of the projects that you catered to in 2018?
In 2018, we built apps that were between $25K and $250K. In 2019, we built apps that were between $35K and $300K.
Which business model do you suggest to your clients enabling them to generate revenue from mobile applications? Why?
Think about how your business would generate revenue if you DIDN’T have a mobile application. Besides for all of the traditional ways of monetizing your app, from subscriptions to microtransactions, the healthiest businesses that I see making apps are those that use them to augment their business.
The business can exist without an app, but an app helps them scale their operations, delight their customers, and bring in new ones. For businesses that rely on their apps as their sole source of income, though, I would say that the most promising models are subscriptions and B2B sales. What I mean by B2B is that you create an app that is a software as a service (SaaS) for other businesses.
Kindly share your feedback on how GoodFirms has been doing so far in increasing your visibility among potential clients.
So far GoodFirms has given us good exposure and traffic to our site.