What was the scope of their involvement?
We didn’t agree on a scope and never signed any contracts. Part of our MVP involves machine learning and artificial intelligence. After a successful discovery phase with the first company, they referred us to Smartum Pro, who has successfully completed extremely complex projects. They have senior level computer vision and machine learning resources on staff.
I didn’t want to do a new discovery phase, but I reluctantly agreed to it. It included redesigning the UI/UX and creating a features document, architecture, and flow for the app. At one point, they didn’t understand part of the design for the dashboard. I’d sent an explanation via email nine days prior. They acknowledged they’d been looking at the wrong sketch file. I was happy to pay for these services but wanted them to prorate the MVP development cost, a stage we never reached.
They sent us the minimum features and user story questions I asked for. My COO flew in for our first scheduled scrum meeting. The questions they’d prepared didn’t make sense to us. I asked them to revise the set of user story questions twice, and they sent back two improved versions within the two 48-hour deadlines I set. I interpreted this as theft. I refused to sign the contract they requested.
What is the team dynamic?
I was in direct contact with three people including a project manager, computer vision resource, and a forward-facing business developer. I truly believe they have excellent developers like the original vendor told me they do.
How did you come to work with Smartum Pro?
We found the first vendor during our initial searched for teams in Ukraine. After completing a successful discovery phase, that team referred us to Smartum Pro who had the computer vision skills they lacked internally, like natural-language processing (NLP), optical character recognition (OCR).
How much have you invested in them?
We spent $2,600 on their services. I asked them to fully refund the $3,000 discovery phase fee I’d reluctantly agreed to pay. They sent me a word document contract to sign while I was abroad finalizing an investment. I’d raised another $250,000 in startup capital at that point. I thought the contract should be an encrypted form instead.
They sent me a DocuSign version of the contract and the second set of revised questions. I still wasn’t satisfied with the quality so I refused to sign it. After requesting my business registration in Singapore, they refunded me $400. Their most recent email explained the charges for currency exchange, bank commission and three days of work.
What is the status of this engagement?
We worked with them for two weeks in May 2018.