Datarockets CEO, Pavel, talked about datarockets’ business model, minimum budgets for startups, and the fixed price, fixed time, flexible scope approach.
Datarockets founders, Pavel and Dmitry, worked for leading outsourcing companies in the industry before they started their own company. They observed the ecosystems that lacked transparency, were indifferent towards the success of clients’ projects, and there was a certain unwillingness to invest in the personal growth of the engineering teams. This compelled them to build a place for like-minded people where they can integrate with clients as a single team, based on a transparent development process.
To further understand datarockets’ vision, GoodFirms has interviewed datarockets CEO, Pavel, as part of their interview series. The following information is an extract from that conversation.
Please introduce your company and give a brief about your role within the company
Datarockets is an experienced team of product developers with offices in Toronto, Canada, and Minsk, Belarus.
We know how to build successful web & mobile applications and do our best to share that experience with our clients. I believe we have a very special approach when building relationships with our customers, which results in productive partnerships that last for years.
At Datarockets, we use Holacracy to distribute roles between people, so my roles are constantly evolving. In short, I have the pleasure to:
- Define the future of the company by researching new business opportunities
- Give product strategy advice to our customers
- Try to share our knowledge writing articles about startups and product development
How is your business model beneficial from a value addition perspective to the clients compared to other companies’ models?
Our business model is called “Dedicated Team”. We don’t outsource and prefer to rely on our own resources.
Working as dedicated teams means a close integration into our clients’ businesses and their teams. This way, we create a productive environment where we grow together with our customers.
Apart from actual coding, we bring our ideas to the table. Writing high-quality code is what we do by default, but there are many good engineers out there, and we go the extra mile to stand out. We contribute to our projects by sharing our culture, bringing our processes, and providing our ideas on how to make things faster/better.
Our major strength is transparency and simplicity. Datarockets’ clients don’t worry about the technical part of their products anymore – we handle that. We set up clear work and communication processes, so our clients can see what we discuss, how we make decisions, and what issues we experience in real-time. Our team lets our customers focus on what really matters to them: overall product strategy, finances, and marketing.
We try to automate as much routine work as possible. Our engineers don’t really enjoy the work that can be done by robots/scripts, and that always turns out to be very beneficial for our customers.
What industries do you generally cater to? Are your customers repetitive?
We don’t stick to a specific industry. Our team consists of people who are fond of complex architectures, like to resolve complex problems and create something really useful. We never stop learning. The best way to use all this knowledge and learn more is to take different kinds of projects.
For the last 6 years, we have been building products for the following industries:
- Ride Sharing
- Social Media
- Social Network
- Real Estate
- Human Resources
Almost all of our clients come back to us with new projects and refer their business partners/friends to us.
Mention the objectives or the parameters critical in determining the time frame of developing software and applications
To provide an accurate estimate, we need to know as much as possible. Usually, before we give an estimate, we try to determine:
- Functional business requirements. What kind of features we need to build and how they help the users.
- Technical business requirements. For example, if we need Internet Explorer browser support, it can add some extra work.
- Product strategy. Before taking on a project, we need to believe in the idea behind it as well as its strategy. We need to know why exactly we build a certain feature to share our insights and suggest improvements.
- Marketing strategy. Nowadays, marketing matters even more than development, and we need to ensure that our prospective clients are aware of that. We need to know their marketing strategy to suggest our own ideas and share relevant experience.
- Budget. Depending on the budget, we can offer alternative technology stack or suggest our vision on the scope of work/priorities.
- Legacy Code. If a project is not from scratch, we need to perform an initial code review to assess its current state and provide estimates based on what has been done already.
Our estimation process is collaborative and transparent. Our prospective clients see how much time we plan to spend on each feature/change and free to share their questions/concerns during the process.
What kind of payment structure do you follow to bill your clients?
We bill for our time only. When a project needs to be done in a certain budget and time, we usually apply the FFF approach (Fixed Price, Fixed Time, Flexible Scope). What we do in this case:
- Break down the scope of work into User Stories and sort them based on their priorities.
- Work on the User Stories iteratively based on their priority.
- Release new functionality as soon as it’s ready, sometimes we make multiple releases per week.
This way, at any time, we have a working version of the product. When we get closer to the deadline, we can stop and skip some minor features, but deliver the most crucial functionality under the budget.
We don’t like fixing the overall project/milestone cost for the following reasons:
- Providing estimates on fixed price projects development teams have to lie. If they provide positive estimates – their companies inevitably lose money. If negative – they kind of lie to their clients.
- After a fixed price project is signed, the client has no flexibility as the scope of work is fixed for that price. Requesting even a minor feature turns into the bureaucracy hell when project managers need to re-assess the scope of work, get updated estimates from the team, and re-sign the budget agreement. We strongly believe that it’s a waste of everyone’s time.
- There is not enough freedom for teams working on fixed price projects. Engineers don’t have time to suggest their ideas, improve processes, and automate routine work. Such atmosphere embraces poor productivity, low-quality code, and reluctant attitude to the project in general.
Datarockets’ product vision, transparency with clients, and strong development culture have resulted in a high place amongst the top software development companies in Canada and top app developers in Toronto.
In the full interview, Pavel also mentioned key parameters needed for selecting the right framework for developing software and applications. Also, he answered the most popular client’s question about the minimum budget required for developing a project.
To understand the whole vision of Datarockets, please read the full interview in the Datarockets profile on GoodFirms.
The blog post with Pavel Demeshchik interview is taken from the Datarockets blog.
Yulia Garanok, Pavel Demeshchik