Can you provide a brief description of your company?
We are a software development company that tries to implement web and mobile technologies for small businesses and nonprofit businesses.
What role do you play there?
I am the owner.
What was the business challenge your company was facing that initiated the need for this platform?
I was searching for a couple of things. First, I needed something that was online, an integrated development environment that was more cloud-based, one which would not necessarily have to download software to my hard drive or anything. Then, I wanted to be able get up to speed quickly, and I wanted to have something that had a lot of components that I could plug and play and not necessarily have to deal with development from scratch. That was a lot of what I was looking for, those two main things.
How does your company implement this platform or software?
One of the ways that we have been using Shoutem thus far is to develop a solution that we have in place today, which is a solution for a college and university community. It’s a small community of about 100 schools, and we had sought out different tools that would allow me to quickly get up to speed in terms of developing and deploying the mobile technology versus trying to build something from scratch or working with third parties to help me build something from scratch. I ran across the Shoutem team and was very impressed with the feature functionality set that they had at the time.
We leveraged and built our college and university solution utilizing Shoutem’s features and functionality. Again, a lot of the feature functionality that they have fits right into what we were trying to do for this small college and university community that we were working with.
Was your company considering other platforms? Why this platform?
I looked at another company called Tiggzi (Now: Appery.io). I looked at some other companies as well. I actually did go with Tiggzi initially, but it was just going to take me a long period of time to get that development done. So I kept searching, ran across Shoutem, and did my due diligence in terms of reviewing the research and making sure it offered at least most of what I was looking for. It certainly had the plug and play. Their app-builder was just a great solution for me. It was able to be deployed relatively quickly and seamlessly, so I could get it into the marketplaces pretty easily. That, for me, was the deciding factor to go with Shoutem.
On an annual or monthly basis, how much does your company spend to utilize the platform?
There’s three packages that they offer. There’s an initial package, then there’s one that’s above there, and then I think they have the enterprise package. I have the one that’s in the middle. I started off with the initial one, and then upgraded after having more conversations about some things that I needed to change and some things that I really wanted to do.
The flexibility is still not where I would like it to be. I’m assuming that the enterprise package would cover that, but I have that middle package, which provides some flexibility but not a tremendous amount of ability to customize. I’m hoping that the new version or builder that they’re coming out with will provide a lot more of that.
Were there any software features or tools that really impressed you?
It is seamless with Shoutem to publish and just get your app out in the marketplace. To me, that was very critical. That was a very seamless process, and I love it. The ability to just drag and drop your things and modify the look and feel, putting in the content, and so on and so forth, is wonderful.
Looking back, are there any areas of the software upon which you feel could be added or improved?
There are certainly a lot more other things that I would like to see in the builder, like more screen designs or more ability to customize screen designs. They have certain templates for the screen, and it would be nice to be able to customize that a little bit, or have a different flow for the users. The other thing would be the ability to provide more personalization for your user base. Like I said, I have a small community; it’s about 107 schools. I’m trying to build it out to where all the schools are using the app, so that would get me up to about almost one million users using the app, from just a student perspective. To do that, I would love to have more personalization in my apps.
Again, I’m a big fan. I tell Shoutem all the time. I send them email after email, and I tell them how much I really enjoy the app. Of course, every once in a while we get a new feature, and I always think, ‘Oh, wow, can I get this, this, and this too?’ That’s how I am, but what they have right now is getting me to where I’m trying to go. It’s gotten me to at least 75% to 80% of where I’m trying to get to. I’m hoping that the next version of the builder gets me another 10% or 15%. I don’t know if it’s going to get me totally to 100%, but we’ll see when the next version comes out.
Have you had to interact with the platform's support team or reference their support resources?
There are always challenges with anything and everything, no matter what it is. We’re all human. With that being the case, there are some things that I would have loved to have done better. The support has been great. They get back to me in a relatively fast amount of time, but there have been some things where I would love to have had some more insight into before changes were made. One of the times I had to repackage and submit my application back out to the markets because it did not have a lot of the current updates that were needed and I didn’t realize it. That was something I was unaware of and wish that I had had more of a heads up. Then I could have planned a little bit better when working with my clients.
Outside of that, I was still able to keep my clients at bay, explain to them that these are things that are necessary and had to be done with the application to continue to be a worthwhile application for us. Those things worked out, and I was able to satisfy my clients from that perspective, but again, it would’ve been good to have had some more insight to the changes at that particular time. That was one isolated incident. Outside of that, everything has been good. The support has been really good too. I do ask a lot of questions. I do send a lot of emails. I’m sure they’ve got a folder just saved with my name on it because I do send a good bit. I work full-time in technology, and I like to be able to provide value if I can, in any way that I can.
We have 5 additional questions. For each of these, we ask you to rate the software on a 1-5 scale with 5 being the best.
What would you give the software for functionality of the features available?
4.5 - I would certainly give them a four and a half.
What would you give the software for ease of use or ease of implementation into your business?
For support, as in responsiveness of the team or helpfulness of the resources available?
4.5 - We all have room to grow, but they have been really good.
How likely are you to recommend the software to a colleague or similar business?
5 - Absolutely a five.
For overall satisfaction with the platform?
4.5 - I guess it would be that four and a half, four and three quarters.