Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or impact of the engagement?
The site is live, there are stories published on it, but it's not strictly open for business yet, so to speak.
The site is very easy to use. The few people who have engaged with it found it to be very straightforward. One of the main goals was to make the process as easy as possible because my target audience is not necessarily the most computer-literate group. They're used to using typical sites like Twitter and Facebook, which make the process easy, so I wasn't looking to target tech-savvy, mid-20s people but rather people in their mid-30s and 40s, who have varying degrees of technological sophistication. Pieoneers has made the process very simple, enabling users to post something with only two clicks.
How did Pieoneers perform from a project management standpoint?
For the most part, Google Docs and email were sufficient for our needs. Pieoneers also used Basecamp, which I'd never used before. I was somewhat surprised at how easy it was to use.
What did you find most impressive about Pieoneers?
Firstly, when I first started going down this road, I had a streak of paranoia, which I subsequently learned is common among inexperienced entrepreneurs; we don't want to tell anyone our ideas because we're scared of it being stolen. When I first met with Pieoneers, instead of looking at me like I was crazy, they agreed to sign an NDA and do whatever was necessary to make me comfortable with having a discussion. When Pieoneers' principal heard my idea, she found it to be a viable business. This wasn't what I was asking, but it was surprising to see how selective she was in terms of the projects being undertaken. They're passionate about what they do and don't want to take on projects that won't turn into anything. It was an initial verification of my idea, and I found it interesting.
I also found Pieoneers' CEO to be straightforward. It's not always common to find people in the consulting world who can tell it to you straight, but Pieoneers did. It may have been tough to hear at times, but I appreciated it. I was asked about what success and failure would look like so that I would not keep pursuing something that wasn’t going to work. For me, it meant gaining 5,000 daily users for a single geographic area over six months.
Olena is also pretty smart. She's well-read and had different discussions with me about what successful entrepreneurs do and how the iPhone had been taken over by engineers more recently. She's a smart, engaging person who knows more than just development. She can consider things from multiple angles and can tell people what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear.
Are there any areas Pieoneers could improve?
I don't know if I have enough [technical] sophistication to identify improvement areas. I had a great experience working with Pieoneers, and nothing's coming to mind.
Pieoneers helped me, a person who knew nothing about programming, navigate this project in a way that made me trust what they were doing. They delivered what I asked for and did a good job. They were persistent in a good way, helping me take the product to the finish line.
At one point, someone from outside Moscow logged into my Facebook account, which made me a bit paranoid. Pieoneers has a team in Russia, and they needed access to my Facebook account. That was just a surprise, not a negative aspect.
I find Pieoneers to be expensive, but I'm not sure how their prices compare to the market. I'm happy with the site, and I would do it again in a heartbeat, but it's challenging to use Pieoneers for small, incremental changes. The price is the price, though.