Web Development with a Twist

With over a decade of experience in web development using agile methodologies, our team philosophy is focused on delivering what the customer needs through an iterative approach of short feedback cycles.

Bear & Giraffe acts as the technical partner or technical arm of startups or small businesses that are working on a great idea but do not have a technical founder to help build their product. We know the startup world well with a few startups under our belt, 

 
$10,000+
 
$100 - $149 / hr
 
2 - 9
 Founded
2015
Show all +
Austin, TX
headquarters
  • Austin, TX 78701
    United States

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Our clients range from a single entrepreneur to early stage startups who are lookinng to developer an MVP to showcase to investors.

Some of our clients include OpenSource Connections, Nest Mortgage, Tenavox, A2Z kitchens and joinery, Magnolia Montessori for All School, and Meriwether Godsey.

Reviews

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Web Development for Ethical E-commerce Site

"Youssef’s been great and we’ll continue to work with him for a long time."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Feb. 2018 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Bear & Giraffe redeveloped a non-functional e-commerce website on Ruby on Rails. The team codes the backend and provides input on the UX design.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Austin, Texas
Sydney Sherman
CEO, Faire Inc.
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The site’s complex features are now functional. Bear & Giraffe has guided the development process and provides valuable suggestions for various aspects of the scope. The team’s clear communication about progress and deadlines makes them a great partner for long-term relationships.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the founder and CEO of Faire Inc., an ethical e-commerce website. We sell ethically-produced and fair trade products in the marketplace.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Bear & Giraffe?

We had a Shopify website that ended up a complete disaster because our previous designer botched our specifications. We couldn’t edit easily and the applications didn’t function properly. Consequently, we couldn’t operate a Shopify site normally because the backed did funky things such as only selling small and random stuff. We needed Bear & Giraffe to fix both the backend and frontend.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They did quick fixes to make the site function at a minimum level. The team then rebuilt our site from scratch on Ruby on Rails. The team still works with us on design and backend specifications.

What is the team composition?

Youssef (Fractional CTO, Bear & Giraffe) is my main point of contact. While I’ve spoken to other members of his team, most communication goes through him.

How did you come to work with Bear & Giraffe?

One of our friends was a developer and tried to fix the Shopify site’s issues. However, he knew the problems were beyond his capabilities and immediately looked for someone to take over in a more full-time development role. He found Youssef, who happened to be involved in the same organization as me. Youssef came highly recommended. I checked his references and past experience, and spoke to people within our mutual organization.

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve spent a little more than $50,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in February 2018 and the partnership is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Youssef isn’t a perfectionist, but he’s pretty close to one. He thinks through each part of the website. Although he focuses on development, he has also helped make decisions about the UX design. We’re now happy with the product. Any website will have some problems, especially a complicated one like ours. There are only minor adjustments I would want to make. The most important components function as expected, as well as the site’s less-important aspects.

When we started with Youssef, we realized that what we thought we needed versus what we actually needed were different things. The fixes took six months, about double the time we expected. However, Youssef communicated effectively during that long process. He looked at our website and said we more knowledgeable about the problem than we assumed. He also guided us to the launch—giving us notes along the way—when we had to rush development. He’s also had opinions about features and other UX designers we considered onboarding. His advice on those issues has gone above and beyond.

Now, we’re so happy with the experience that I would love to increase Youssef’s hours next year. He’s incredible for our marketplace. We haven’t come across anything that Youssef can’t handle. He’s such a blessing because managing teams of people that don’t work together can be disastrous. Youssef’s been great and we’ll continue to work with him for a long time.

How did Bear & Giraffe perform from a project management standpoint?

Youssef tailors his approach to each client’s preference. He communicates with other clients more frequently, but I told him that I didn’t need constant interaction as long as he was getting the work done. I trust him because he came with strong references and we’ve spent time together outside of work. Although I limited communication to when Youssef needs my help, we have been talking multiple times per day for the last two weeks.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Youssef is personable and a pleasure to work with. I haven’t worked with anyone as great as him. In light of our previous vendor experience, even if there was someone who was faster or a more advanced communicator, but a less enjoyable partner, I would still prefer Youssef. I can problem solve with him, as well as communicate any thoughts, issues, or challenges. That’s been huge for me.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I noticed that last-minute issues came up on occasion with developers and designers that we had worked with; these problems sometimes threw a wrench in my day. When Youssef ran into such obstacles as we approach deadline, I realize that’s the nature of web development, not his necessarily his workflow. Youssef’s positive communication makes these unexpected problems easier to deal with while running a business day-to-day.

Any advice for potential customers?

Our company is only eight months’ old and running this new international brand has been chaotic. Although I declined frequent and detailed, I could have should have requested them and been more involved in the beginning. Given our number of questions and rush to the September 1 deadline, this approach was not the best method. However, I felt that I didn’t need to be involved because I knew Youssef would get the job done.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    We didn’t hit our original deadline, but that was more our fault than theirs.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Web App Dev for Search Relevancy Tool

“They really understand what’s required to build a fast product in today’s marketplace.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Mar. 2015 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Bear & Giraffe migrated a web-based application to a full-stack SaaS product, which they currently maintain. The app now has a clean interface, payment collection functionalities, and helpful documentation.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Charlottesville, Virginia
Eric Pugh
Principal, OpenSource Connections
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The app has dropped the time of building irrelevancy judgment lists by 50% and has gained 3 enterprise customers as well as about 40–60 professional subscriptions. Bear & Giraffe approached the project from both a product and engineering perspective, and have remained supportive throughout.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the founder and CEO of OpenSource Connections. We’re a professional services firm focused on helping our customers build better matching algorithms, whether it’s people looking for jobs, the right doctor, or even real estate.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Bear & Giraffe?

As part of our core services offerings around building better matching solutions, we needed a tool to gather feedback from our users to define what a good search looks like. The technical term is either a 'judgment list', or a 'golden record.'

We contacted Bear & Giraffe to do the migration from an internal tool to a full-stack product.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

The tool, called Quepid, is used as a tool that we, as search subject matter experts, use to talk to our customers’ business owners. We use this tool to translate the voice of the customer into measurable requirements that we can then use to build a better matching solution against.

Quepid is a web-based application which we built for in-house use. However, we received feedback from customers that they wanted to use it directly and were willing to pay for it as a software-as-a-service product. In order to make it a true SaaS product, though, we needed to be able to collect credit card information, write helpful documentation, and clean up the user interface. All of these things would move it to a modern platform.

Concurrently, they also did some work with us on the softer side of things, such as aiding in the creation of help documentation. They also created some intro or how-to videos. We’ve discussed having them do more regarding the UX design, but we haven’t pushed it much. They seemed to have broadened their offerings to have more UX and product-focused services, and not just strictly technical, but we haven’t taken advantage of this yet.

What is the team dynamic?

We’ve primarily worked with Youssef [Founder, Bear & Giraffe] for the last 3–4 years. We are transitioning to one of his developers as our key maintenance person. We did a big burst of development and then have been primarily in maintenance mode from the perspective of what the search engine does.

How did you come to work with Bear & Giraffe?

Youssef worked for me 8 years ago, and I put a lot of energy into making him a better software developer. Predominantly, the core of why we engaged with them again was because of their extensive development expertise. Youssef has built a number of startups and done other SaaS products in the past.

We also engaged with them due to Youssef’s deep knowledge in our type of business, and what exactly it entails. When he became available, I automatically knew he was who I wanted to work with.

How much have you invested in them?

We’ve spent between $50,000—$199,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with them in March 2015, and the relationship is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

We can safely say that Quepid today has dropped the time to building irrelevancy judgment lists by 50%. We have had 3 enterprise customers join the platform, and about 40–60 professional subscriptions. Quepid has new customers onboarding every month because they moved us to a SaaS product. The app has gone from being a profit-cost center to being a profit center.

How did Bear & Giraffe perform from a project management standpoint?

They have been great and were everything I could ask for in a firm.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They really understand what’s required to build a fast product in today’s marketplace. They understand both the product perspective and the engineering perspective, and also understand the technical debt along with what is involved in building something that lasts.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I don’t think so. They are wonderful for what they are.

Do you have any advice for potential clients of Bear & Giraffe?

My only advice for people looking to hire for similar services is that really good communication is key. It lets you address the inevitable challenges that come up in any relationship. It’s important to remember that it’s impossible to answer all of your unknowns ahead of time. Communication is how we remedy this issue.

5.0
Overall Score They are a partner, Quepid’s success is really tied to their success. I’ve even asked them if it makes sense for them to take an equity commission.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    We went into it knowing it was an Agile project, and there have been no issues.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    For the money we’ve spent, we feel like we’ve received what we wanted.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    The quality of the product speaks for itself, and their level of support has been fantastic with our customers.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I’ve recommended them to a number of different people.

Dev for Start-up Mortgage Management App

"If someone is going to build something out in Rails, you want [Bear & Giraffe] to do it."
 

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Sep. 2016 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Bear & Giraffe developed a web application with mobile optimization using Ruby on Rails. The app supports a software design program and is in its early funding stages.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Austin, Texas
Beto Juarez III
Founder, Nest Mortgage
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Bear & Giraffe exceeded expectations and delivered a high-quality product with clean code. The team has extensive experience in developing and testing in the Ruby on Rails platform. They are proactive, responsive, and engaged and understood the client’s entrepreneurial needs.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

Nest Mortgage is a very small mortgage startup company. We are generally a small group of two or three people. I’m the founder.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Bear & Giraffe?

We needed development help. If I think there's a piece of software missing in the world, I go around and talk to people who might be using this software. Then I go and design and think about what the software looks like.

When it comes to the actual code, I wanted a professional like Bear & Giraffe to take over the code, but also to understand the business capabilities and how it’s going to evolve into the future. That’s what Bear & Giraffe really excels in, as opposed to going to a freelancer, which is something I’ve done in the past. Bear & Giraffe really exceeded far beyond that option.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They developed our web application with mobile optimization using Ruby on Rails. We finished our major project. We initially wanted to sell a piece of software to mortgage lenders. It turns out, it’s really hard to sell to them. So we’re actually getting our regulation and approval for being a mortgage lender ourselves in the state of Texas. We’re going to use that piece of software internally and work at it from there.

I would like to get a few more customers and funding so I can pay Youssef [Founder, Bear & Giraffe] some more money. There’s no formal engagement, but we discuss what needs to be built in the future and how we can make sure to get enough customers to keep iterating on what we started.

What is the team dynamic?

We usually had two folks. The primary one was Youssef, the founder.

How did you come to work with Bear & Giraffe?

I had already gone the freelancer route with someone who was less experienced. It was a bit of a tough go. I was looking to see if I was going to let that contractor go and find someone else. I knew I wanted to develop on Ruby on Rails as a platform. I started looking and asking around in Austin.

I found myself at the Rails meetup group and saw Youssef [Founder, Bear & Giraffe] not only being a natural leader within the group, but also presenting on some highly technical issues that he’s encountered in his learnings. It showed me he is very active and very experienced on Rails as a platform. We had a couple of conversations from there and he gave me some really good confidence that he and his team would build a very quality product for me.

How much have you invested with them?

About $8,000-$12,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in September 2016 and the work is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

We built out a product that we thought people might want to pay for and no one seemed willing to pay for it. We’re going to go ahead and use the product ourselves. It doesn’t take away from the quality that Youssef [Founder, Bear & Giraffe] built out.

Quite honestly, if you wrote a book on how to develop in Rails, you’d write an entirely new book on how to test in Rails. That’s what Youssef [Founder, Bear & Giraffe] has done that gives me the confidence that we have a really solid code base and a testing suite to go forward; such that, we have active monitoring.

We have active, automated test development. We have those things in place that are going to allow Youssef [Founder, Bear & Giraffe] or any future developer to come in, read really clean code, and run established test suites so that we can be true, nimble organization into the future. That’s the real quality that Youssef [Founder, Bear & Giraffe] brought to the table.

How did Bear & Giraffe perform from a project management standpoint?

We had a weekly standing meeting and then more interactions beyond that. Youssef [Founder, Bear & Giraffe] was very good about always being available and responding. If I send him a Slack message and he’s not immediately available, he’ll always get back to me within the hour. That was very nice. He has a high attention to detail. He’s one of the most professional people. He’s proactive, responsive, and has the experience under his belt of how to be a really good service provider. I give nothing but top marks there.

What did you find most impressive about them?

If someone is going to build something out in Rails and you’re going to build it in Austin, you want Youssef [Founder, Bear & Giraffe] to do it. It’s a quality sense. He’s not gouging on prices either. I know a few people who have put in time at Dell for a few years and then they think they can charge you $300 an hour. Maybe you can with some enterprise clients, but clearly, I’m not enterprise.

He understood that I was a guy with a vision and not that deep of a pocketbook. It was great to see him work and understand the entrepreneurial journey himself. He’s extremely good at Rails.

Are there any areas they could improve?

It’s been nothing but a positive experience with Youssef [Founder, Bear & Giraffe] and even in terms of critical feedback; it’s very, very minimal.

Do you have advice for people looking to hire a client in this field?

Don’t go with the first person you meet who knows that technology stack. I decided I was going to go with Rails for a few reasons, but the primary reason was that there’s a big community out there. So if I needed to change developers, other people know Rails well.

The flipside of that is there are a lot of people out there who have some experience with Rails. Maybe they’ve built their own app and they’ve gone to a boot camp, but that doesn’t mean they’ve built enterprise-ready applications with all the testing and the cleanness of code that needs to go in there so that someone can truly go in afterward.

If there’s spaghetti code and nothing is being tested and everything breaks every time you make a new release, then you’ve wasted a whole bunch of time and money. That’s why I started going to the meetup groups and started asking around who the best is. Service providers compete on the quality of their code, not necessarily their price or even their experience per se.

A good developer with a good product manager is going to be able to attack any industry that they want. Look for that quality. If someone looks at that golden triangle of quality, cost, and time, they have to decide what they want to sacrifice. Probably don’t ever sacrifice quality. Always make sure that one is there.

5.0
Overall Score He’s super smart and a contributor. He’s not just a taker. He does great stuff.
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    Luckily Youssef [Founder, Bear & Giraffe] is getting busy and his business is growing, but sometimes it might take awhile to get him started on something because he has to finish up with other clients.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I’ve already recommended him to other folks in Austin. He’s the best Rails developer in town. If someone is going to build on that platform, they need to go with him.

Web & App Dev for Commercial Real Estate Company

"Youssef [Founder, Bear & Giraffe] is another member of the team."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Mar. 2017 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Bear & Giraffe helped develop an app and admin platform that aggregates real estate information and displays it in a database. The project mainly involved Ruby on Rails, React.js, and Python.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Austin, Texas
Co-Founder, Commercial Real Estate Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The app performed well and included all the desired functionalities. Bear & Giraffe built almost every element of the app and continued to brainstorm improvements and new features. Their dependable deliveries, quick turnarounds, and constant communication made them an exceptional partner.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am a co-founder of a commercial real estate startup centered on small-business tenants. The concept takes equal parts from Glassdoor, HomeAdvisor and a bit of Zillow. We provide map-based search, along with fully-rated, recommended and machine-learning-ranked buildings within the market.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Bear & Giraffe?

We have roughly 30,000 buildings and multiple apps within our app, including one which takes information from the real world, and puts it into the virtual one. We have an app which associates pictures with the information in our database, at the backend administration level. There’s also an administration app which moderates and verifies reviews.

There’s a lot of manual work, and, on the frontend, the production side, we have a site being run with a Ruby on Rails backend and React.js on the front. It holds roughly 3,500 buildings in our local city, but is scalable to many more cities. We literally launched last night, so we’re a bit worn out. The site’s been working well so far, and ties in with our 180-factor algorithm, associating with buildings.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Bear & Giraffe’s background is primarily Ruby on Rails, so most of our site was built using it. We have implemented React.js since then, and have used Python for some of the algorithmic elements. We have an internal team for design and haven’t engaged Bear & Giraffe for the service. They handled the development and engineering.

What is the team dynamic?

Youssef, their founder, is our principal engineer and is really the only one we’ve worked with from the group. I’m not sure how many people are working for him at the moment. He’s a hard worker and very direct. We’ve engaged with him every day, so he’s almost like a full-fledged team member to us. He’s ingrained in what we do and how we do it, to the point of integrating him into our team buildings and cultural events. Youssef runs the show, and he’s pretty good.

How did you come to work with Bear & Giraffe?

It was through a Ruby meetup in Austin. Youssef runs the local organization and had run into one of our co-founders and CTO. Based on his background and experience, we thought he would be a good fit. Over time, that proved to be true.

How much have you invested with them?

The total cost has been in the six-figure range.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with Bear & Giraffe six months ago in March 2017, and really went fulltime in May. The engagement is ongoing, and we expect to keep them on for many more months.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Our users can do all the things we wanted them to do. Bear & Giraffe helped us launch a beta version in June, after which we spent a month and a half refactoring everything, from some of our previous, junior-engineer work.

We just pressed the button on the new site last night. It’s live and functional—users can sign up, see buildings in different markets, and match real-time needs with real-time wants. It’s a sort of dating site, from that standpoint. Once a tenant tells us what they need, we can match them with the building which offers it.

We will do the same thing with furniture and other items, for any pre- or post-lease spenders. This functionality isn’t fully fleshed out, but it will be, by the end of the year. The real-estate-driven functionalities are done, and Bear & Giraffe has done a really good job with them.

For the current site, 90% of the coding is Youssef’s work. It’s an excellent pat on the back for him—I wouldn’t say that he singlehandedly built it, but he came close.

How did Bear & Giraffe perform from a project management standpoint?

Youssef is another member of the team. He’s on Slack with us every day, and I have an exceptional understanding of what he’s up to. We have two-week sprints, demos, and retros. Youssef has gained some skills from us as well; we’ve trained him up on overpreparation and overcommunication, and he’s made some great strides from the start of the project. We certainly have a better understanding of how he likes to do things. We hit our stride three months ago.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Ultimately, being able to depend on the person doing the work is important. I’ve been to many dev shops, and think that Youssef provides a lot of value for the money.

I’ve been quoted for what I considered to be simple things, like a tool for creating leases, effectively a 14-15-slide HTML component which operates like a survey. We compare the answers with the information in our database and create a PDF report along with an account. Not an easy task, but not particularly difficult. This was a two-week project with Youssef, but it would have taken four to six weeks if I took it to another dev shop.

Are there any areas they could improve?

The only things he has to gain are general business skills. Youssef needs to become better at managing people below him. It’s common in the engineering world, but there can be a rub between developers. One will want it done one way, and one, the other. Being able to consistently mentor and have people grow under him will be a long-term positive. Youssef has gotten a lot better at this since we’ve had him.

Do you have any advice for people looking to hire someone in the development field?

I would make the developer as big a part of the team as possible. Even when hiring a dev shop, it will still be a liability. We should be looking for long-term partners to act as principal engineers for the team. Ultimately, a business isn’t sustainable if the principal engineer is replaced with someone else.

It depends on the company, but, a long-term online one needs in-house engineers, or at least close by. We’re not Youssef’s only client, but he makes us feel that way.

4.5
Overall Score We’ve had to make some cultural changes on our end, to ensure a good fit. Team management skills could be improved in the long-term, but Youssef is good overall.
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    Some of the delays were on our end. There’s only one of Youssef, and I wish there were two. There are only so many hours in a week, and there are always things to engineer.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Very good value for the money.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    The proof is in our site.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    He’s a good person, which is number one for us, and he does good work.