Please describe the scope of their involvement in detail.
We first spoke to ArcTouch in June 2014 and had just begun feeling it out with our donor. We had to introduce ArcTouch to a very different procurement process than the private sector is used to. In the aid world, we have a very lengthy procurement process that the U.S. government requires whenever you're using U.S. government funds for a project. There's a long bureaucratic process.
Even though we knew that ArcTouch was our favorite, it took about a year for us to sign a contract with them. For the entire time, they were very patient. Sam [Leung], who is their business development [director], was happy to supply us more information whenever the donor asked for anything. It was a positive process in that way. The stages were drawn out, but once we were finally able to sign a contract, putting the app together was quite quick. We needed an app that would allow people to view AREWA24, which is our channel's name, and engage with our social media channels. We also wanted the app to support our IVR [interactive voice response] and text messaging line. ArcTouch helped us with the design process, functionality, and navigation.
They also spent some time figuring out how to transfer our YouTube playlists directly to the app so we never have to update the app ourselves manually. They made it very low maintenance on the back-end, which is great because our field staff is not very technically savvy. Training people in Northern Nigeria to be able to manage an app is actually quite difficult. They were able to take that whole issue out from us. They completely maintain and host a platform called AppGlu, which we're using to support the AREWA24 app. They have a super-easy platform through which our local team can log in and create a simple push notification to anybody who has the app. It's almost simpler than sending an email. It's great and easy to teach.
How did you come to work with ArcTouch?
Part of my job was to research app developers who've worked in the media delivery space, so I looked at who had done all the big network apps. We spoke to a bunch of them, and they were all much more than our price range. We spoke to quite a few companies, but the bottom line was that we simply couldn't afford anybody else. What ArcTouch was offering was to use their existing platform rather than creating a custom app. The platform does everything that we wanted it to do, and it would just be a subscription fee rather than a huge custom application contract that would require hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?
It was between $40,000 and $50,000 in the end.
What is the status of this engagement?
The engagement started in earnest in January or February of 2016 when we started designing it. The other thing that made this whole process a lot slower was that my colleagues and I have a pretty insane travel schedule. It was longer than it probably would have been otherwise, but the app was released on April 1, 2016.