Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
We had such a good experience and found Cluj to be such a good place to do business; we actually opened up our own office out there. Not only did we open up our own office, we opened it in the same building as Halcyon and they’re our neighbors now. We built our own team of 20 out there. They’re a really great team.
For us, not only did we prove what we wanted to do from a product point of view with Halcyon, but we’re a successful company in that we’ve raised funding and we have customers all over the world. We have huge, huge banks and everything using us. Not only did Halcyon help us do that, but we realized they helped us understand how good a place Cluj was and how exciting a place it is to be.
We were picked up by Apple as a featured app. We got into the top 10 of the U.K. business apps and top 20 in the U.S. business apps in the App Store when we launched. That’s a pretty good recommendation for Halcyon—that Apple liked it so much they picked it up.
How did Halcyon Mobile perform from a project management standpoint?
We worked with them to the point where we were almost one company because we were working so closely with them. I was out there every other week and had a great time working with them. We ended up going out partying with them, became really good friends, and we’re still good friends now.
They’ve got really good project managers. The nice thing was that there wasn’t much burden on us to actually manage the deliverable. They had that handled. We had a dedicated project manager who also doubled as a product manager as well. If we weren’t on-site with them, we were still communicating daily. We maybe had a twice weekly formal call to go through things. Then, in some of the more intensive phases, we might join their standup meetings with the sprints. The nice thing about working with a group like that is that, because they know their trade and they’ve done this before, they can do all this stuff with very little intervention from you. You can be very strategic and leave them to their own devices once you’ve set the direction, and they’ll come back to you with good stuff. In the cases where it’s helpful, you can get very involved right down into the detail, and they’re pretty comfortable with all of that. You do have that flexibility with them.
What did you find most impressive about Halcyon Mobile?
We’re a difficult customer to deal with because we had a lot of ideas and a lot of things that we were still trying to figure out as they were building. Only by building something can you actually see if it’s any good and see what customers think of it, and then from there you get more data, and you iterate and adapt and grow. In order to be able to do that, you need an engineering team and you need a product team that is committed to quality and building something that’s really impressive, robust, stable, and appealing to customers.
That’s something that really impressed me about Halcyon: their ability to build something so robust and stable that Apple picked it up, while staying flexible with a team like ours that is still figuring things out. That’s a tricky thing to pull off. I’ve done that before. That’s a really hard thing to do as an engineer when you try to build something and people keep moving the goalpost. These guys are really good at that. The product they built, considering the amount of iterations, changes, new developments, thoughts, and feedback that went into it, they were really quick to implement stuff. They ended up building something which was still sturdy, and robust and strong and really well put together.
Are there any areas Halcyon Mobile could improve?
There were times when we wanted to do more with them and they just didn’t have the staff because they’re just so in demand. They’re growing and they should continue to keep growing. That was the one issue that we ran into. The tricky thing of working with a team like Halcyon for 2 years is that you can come to rely on them very much.
One thing I should say is that when we first installed our own team out there, they did a really good job of helping us transition the project from their team to our team. They even worked with our first key hires to help them get their head around the product.
I know some potential customers who may be reading this don’t often think about the exit strategy. Halcyon has helped you put an app together, now what? These guys were really good at helping us figure out how to transition from their team to our own team, and that went really smoothly.
What tips or recommendations could you share that might increase the likelihood of success with Halcyon Mobile?
I would say be really honest with them and take them into your confidence. Be really honest where you think your idea isn’t very good and where you think your idea is very good, because they need to know that in order to help you build a better product. Just be transparent. That involves a certain level of trust and, from our experience, the more honest and the more transparent we were, and the more we articulated our thoughts and our nervousness, they were there to help us figure out how to get through that.
Don’t just treat them as some guys who are going to execute some wireframes that you’re going to send them. You can if you want to, but if you want to get the best out of them and really utilize them for all their worth, that involves much more than just them building what you want. They can do so much more.