What was the scope of their involvement?
DecemberLabs went through the effort of assessing my ideas for the company in light of our technical capabilities. We discussed the mobile app for iOS and Android, the portal (which provides access to healthcare providers and health plans), and the IVR [interactive voice response] interface that allows people to dial in and complete all the functions they’d otherwise be doing via the app.
Because we are working in the healthcare space, we have a highly regulated environment as far as security and compliance. A part of our challenge was having to work with the latest technologies, and building from the ground up. Both our portal and mobile product are based on React. We didn’t want to develop independent iOS and Android applications, but there aren’t many talented React developers out there, and even fewer are able to understand our business direction.
We used Twilio for the IVR part and Ruby on Rails for the backend, as well as Laravel PHP. We use a secure health vendor called Aptible for some of our compliance needs, and DecemberLabs has been working closely with them. Their team also supplies test support and has caught a ton of issues.
In terms of the information flow between different organizations, the integrations in healthcare are rather archaic. This is another part of DecemberLabs’ involvement. At any point in time, we’ve worked with 5–6 people from their team.
How did you come to work with DecemberLabs?
I had an existing team in Philadelphia that consisted of 4 full-time people and a bunch of part-timers. They were good technologists, but something was lacking. I tried to make that model work for way too long, and it became clear that I needed a better business acumen in my delivery team.
I was referred to them by a former MBA classmate. He had worked with DecemberLabs successfully in 2016 and introduced us. I explained the problem to them and tried to understand the nature of the company, but I also looked at a white-glove studio in Philadelphia, which was more of a traditional end-to-end service provider. They asked good questions but were more about technical delivery. DecemberLabs appealed to me because their interests reflected what I wanted to accomplish with my business. Focusing on development is good, but lacking a business context for providing the right guidance is problematic.
Also, given my situation, I needed a partner who could be as flexible as I needed. I had to transition everything quickly from a team that had been working on this project day-in and day-out for a year. I wanted a partner who could take that brain dump, formulate a plan, and allow me to recover from it. Since my team at the time said that the work would take 8 months to complete, I was astounded that DecemberLabs put together a plan in 2 months.
I had to work hard as well, but I didn’t mind. What was lacking before was precisely my role in the process and how I could improve our efficiency. DecemberLabs included me in that plan. I will start looking for full-time equivalents at some point to replace some of these roles, but I now have a partner who I can continue with for perpetuity. They’ve shown flexibility, desire, and passion in understanding in achieving my goals.
How much have you invested with DecemberLabs?
The cost has crossed the $200,000 mark with our growing and ongoing collaboration.
What is the status of this engagement?
We began the collaboration with DecemberLabs in December 2016. The actual development started in February 2017. The project is ongoing.