Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
The product has never been rejected from the App Store on any submissions. That first time you submit a product, it can be scary. There are these horror stories of companies having products stuck in limbo. It’s amazing that we always ship a product every 2 weeks. They’re very good at allowing me to iterate fast.
From my perspective, the most beneficial thing for me, as the co-founder of the company, is that I rarely get to spend enough time on the product as I’d like to since I have to go fundraising for a week or work on a new partnership. Before, I had internal hires that could replace me during those early months where you can be pulled in many different directions. I knew that I could go away for a week and that the product would continue humming along and they’d execute what I wanted. In the event that my absence would have made a material difference for the product, they would find a way to get in touch with me and make sure that the right thing was delivered.
Crema is great at pushing me to do the right thing for my company as opposed to the right thing for them. That React example showcases this: they originally had 2 resources on the project to build 2 different apps that did the same thing. Because they’re such a small agency, when React Native came out and started to gain traction, they were able to champion that the firm should use it, get approval from the owners of the company that it’s now framework-based supported, and then pitch a project to me that allowed me to reduce my monthly spend and ship a product that can be built faster.
They’re uniquely small enough that if they see something beneficial pop-up, they’ll recommend it, as long as it’s right for me and regardless of their long-term billable hours. In a startup, cash is king.
It’s a trust thing. Working with contractors can be stressful, especially some of my other products. When I make a requirements document, it’s literally built exactly how I write it. Crema, however, does a pretty good job of knowing when I’ve mistyped a requirement, knowing when to push back, and knowing when to ask me a question to make sure that what they’re building reflects what I want.
How did Crema perform from a project management standpoint?
There’s a specific resource on my team who’s our project manager, and he’s incredible. I wish I could poach him, but it’s quite clear that I can’t.
They hit every deadline. We’re Agile, so there aren’t hard builds that we’re trying to release. I know when people are going to deliver during a week, and I’m made aware during every sprint if we’re going to hit it. If they’re under risk, I’ll get a yellow light. I always know what’s going to be shipped. If for any reason the product that’s about to be shipped isn’t exactly what I think it is, they’ll let me know up front and give a solid reason why (usually because I added scope).
What did you find most impressive about Crema?
They have a strong product team, as opposed to just developers. Often, a company is quite strong in development, branding, user flow, or UX, but they’ve been a delightful mix of all that. It’s a product team for hire as opposed to a development team or UX team for hire. Having everyone who built the product, especially in those early days, are all around the table at the same time is significantly better than trying to piecemeal a team together between a branding firm and a development shop offshore. That’s been the main difference. I’ve never had a full product team for any product I’ve worked on before.
Are there any areas Crema could improve?
When I first started, Crema’s QA wasn’t as solid as I was used to. I actually gave them that area of improvement, and they hired a new resource. They listened to my feedback and improved.
The only thing that would be beneficial is spending more time on internal tools before a product goes live, but that would have pushed back my delay. They could emphasize internal tools for the company more, understanding that we’ll have users within our organization who should have tools before the product goes live.
I really don’t have anything negative to say or big areas of improvement for them. They send me forms every month to see if there was anything they could do better. They’ve fixed everything I pointed out.