What was the scope of their involvement?
Mars has a lot of requirements for technical projects, so there were a number of suppliers used on this project. One supplier helped us make sure the projects were secure and safe, another supplier built the web app, and a third supplier was responsible for hosting the overall code. It was a big challenge for us to coordinate all of them.
We’ve been creating this technical task for about 3 months. It’s been a nerve-wracking process because this is a new and challenging project for Mars, and we had to invent a whole process for it. There were 3 parts to the project: After we completed the technical task, we started producing it, designing it, and creating prototypes for it. It took us about a month or two to discuss all of the screens, buttons, and functionality because the app had to fit the technical and design requirements as well as Mars’ strict brand guidelines. The next step was creating our first alpha version, which took about a month.
The app is called Grow Together. It included a calendar as well as a part called Catopedia, which is an encyclopedia for new cat owners. The app helps new cat owners get all of the information they need to complete different tasks and know more about how to feed their kitten and look after it. Grow Together was originally made more than 2 years ago with another supplier. It worked at that time, but it was not the best app in the world because it had a lot of bugs and didn't work well. The big test for KODE was to reinvent it, to make it look stylish, to make it work better, and to get more users using the app, because a lot of users that download the app, sometimes they just use it for an hour and then forget about it. We needed to create an app that actually works, and KODE did a good job.
How did you come to work with KODE?
The project we did with KODE started long before we ever discussed it with them. Every time we create a project for Mars, we first have to complete a lot of internal steps. We create the idea, and then discuss it with the creative director and their marketing guys because the project must fit into the overall marketing plans. When we were able to describe how the idea would be presented, we took the idea to our marketing team, which liked it. Then we started searching for a partner that would help us produce it.
Every time we start producing something for Mars, we have to begin the complicated process of finding a partner that will fit Mars’ financial and process requirements. The potential partner has to be big and experienced, and their work must fit within Mars’ budget. We also need the names of at least 3 suppliers, and those suppliers will be evaluated based on their portfolios, experience, managing and design skills, and so on. For this project, one of the suppliers was KODE, who provided the best technical solution. Mars was happy with it. After Mars selected KODE, we started designing an overall process.
How much have you invested with KODE?
There was a huge overall budget for all of the work we did together, not just the app, and I think that is about $100,000.
What is the status of this engagement?
I think we began working together in November 2016. We are currently in the middle of our second version of the Grow Together app, and we’re continuing to develop it.