What was the scope of their involvement?
Codal is our primary and only developer at this point. We’ve used them for the entire duration of the company. They work on multiple projects for us. We’ve created a front-to-back solution revolving around Twilio. The platform uses Twilio’s APIs and their new features as they come available. We continually develop the platform around the user experience.
Codal is taking care of the UX, the UI, the coding, and management of the tech side of the platform. I manage the business aspect. It’s been a very positive business relationship with Codal and myself. I handle the day-to-day business and Codal monitors and develops the website. They have their procedures in place to make sure everything happens. We have two project managers assigned to my projects, and I’m in constant contact with them through Slack. If something comes up, I can ping one of the project managers and have a response pretty quickly.
If it’s a serious matter beyond a project manager, I can ping Keval or Matt anytime. I don’t know if Keval sleeps; he’s almost always available. If I send him a message at 10 pm, 9 times out of 10, Keval is going to be awake and responding to my message. Just having them readily available on all aspects of the business has been huge for me. Keval knows what he's doing and is very responsive to what I bring to his plate.
As a business, we went from a very small website processing a few hundred dollars a day, maybe 500–1,000 total hits on the website, to a website that’s going to process close to $3 million this year. They’ve helped us scale from that small, custom website to where we are now. We’ve gone through several iterations of the website, several upgrades to the backend platform. We’re coding in PHP. Since we started the project five years ago, there have already been 1–2 iterations or upgrades from PHP. So, scaling the website and the traffic alongside what we’re doing on the business end, we’ve never had a shutdown on the website where it goes dark because something happened on the tech end. We have checks in place to make sure that doesn’t happen.
We upgrade the platform as needed to scale with the volume. We’ve transferred a lot to AWS (Amazon Web Services), which has helped with the scalability. That transition was seamless as far as upgrading nearly the entire website. It’s a huge task. On the front end of the website, there are obviously design changes, but on the backend, there were no negative effects when making that huge transition over to other services that help scale and fill our needs as a growing business.
How did you come to work with Codal?
When I first got in contact with them, I was still in school in Madison, Wisconsin. I’d bumped into someone they knew, and he made the connection. He knew of Keval and Matt, and that was the extent of the initial connection. We scheduled a meeting pretty quickly after, and I went down to Chicago from Madison to feel them out. At that point, I had talked to 2–3 other developers before deciding to go with Codal. The main thing that separated them from the other firms was their experience in Twilio. Knowing that they’re an established company in Chicago made a big difference as well.
We had contacted a freelance guy who said he could code the entire website and do it for nearly half the cost, which was a red flag from the start. He quoted something too low, so I knew it wasn’t a realistic quote. If we had gone with him early on, we wouldn’t have a business today. We would never have been able to go from processing maybe $50,000–$100,000 a year to over $2 million with that developer. So, we obviously made the right choice going with Codal, and I’m glad we did. Their quote was very realistic.
We were also eyeing up another group that had a very similar quote to Codal. We went with Codal due to their Twilio and PHP experience. Matt and Keval are young, up-and-coming entrepreneurs, and I was able to relate to them. We were talking on the same wavelength as far as what I needed, what needed to get done, and how we were going to get this small project launched with the schedule to turn this into a much larger project.
We’ve grown the businesses side-by-side as partners. We’ve exclusively used Codal as our developer and never looked back. As they’ve scaled Codal, we’ve scaled our company side-by-side, learning as we go in some instances, but that’s sometimes the best way to do it. They’ve come a long way, as I’ve come a long way with our company.
How much have you invested with Codal?
We started out paying them $2,000 a month to initially get it launched. Right now, we are paying around $10,000 a month to Codal. We’re able to bring developers on and off projects as we need them when bugs need fixing or new features are being developed. We can add 1–2, and then take them off once that feature is finished. Their ability to fluctuate in a custom team of developers has been huge for us and helps us to save money. When we need to really push for a new feature or a fix, we’re able to bring on a few developers for a month and get that solved and then scale back a bit.
What is the status of this engagement?
The first round of development started in October of 2012 and our relationship is ongoing.