CUSTOM MOBILE PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

Utility specializes in crafting custom mobile applications and web software with innovative partners, from startup ventures to Fortune 500 brands. We're made up of digital product strategists, user experience designers and top-tier software engineers.

 
$50,000+
 
$150 - $199 / hr
 
10 - 49
 Founded
2013
Show all +
New York, NY
headquarters
  • Utility
    (HQ) 260 Madison Ave
    New York, NY 10016
    United States
    (212) 328-1167
other locations
  • Utility
    600 Congress Ave
    Austin, TX 78701
    United States
    (646) 885-6515
  • Utility
    One Market, Spear Tower
    San Francisco, CA 94105
    United States
    (646) 885-6515
  • Utility
    10100 Santa Monica Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90067
    United States
    (646) 885-6515
  • Utility
    1170 Peachtree St NE
    Atlanta, GA 30309
    United States
    (646) 885-6515
  • Utility
    20 F Street NW
    Washington, DC 20001
    United States
    (646) 885-6515
  • Utility
    801 Brickell Ave
    Miami, FL 33131
    United States
    (646) 885-6515
  • Utility
    101 Arch Street
    Boston, MA 02110
    United States
    (646) 885-6515
  • Utility
    1601 Market Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19103
    United States
    (646) 885-6515

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Brands: Airbnb, Samsung, Verizon, DirecTV, Target, Mount Sinai

Startup Ventures: TOOR, Winq, UrLife, SirenMD, dearduck, JobTreks, Cirrus Fitness

Mobile Games: Stride Gum (Mondelez), AVP Pro Beach Volleyball, Wiz Khalifa, Lil Wayne, DirecTV's Flick a Kick (Augmented Reality)

Reviews

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Mobile App Dev for Established Youth Sports Brand

"They over-deliver and don’t nickel-and-dime you."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Mar. - Aug. 2013
Project summary: 

Utility led mobile iOS app development, including UX, UI, backend services, and CMS buildouts. They also designed and developed a website for the app as well as provided strategic digital counsel.

The Reviewer
 
Startup
 
New York, New York
CMO, Fivestar Training
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Utility exceeded all expectations, and the app had good standing when it was live. The team was organized, communicative, and brought the app to life in a creative and accessible way. Utility was trustworthy, reliable, and despite occasional challenges, their deliverables were perfect in the end.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

At the time of this project, I was the CMO of Fivestar Training. This was a funded mobile tech startup that had acquired the license to the famous Five Star Basketball brand. We leveraged that brand to produce new youth sports applications that incorporated pro-level instruction across soccer, lacrosse, and other sports to allow regular families to work with their children at home in a systematic way. One of my charges was to help hire the product team to carry out this vision.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Utility?

We wanted to produce a cutting edge mobile application that served up premium sports instructional content and training programs to the masses.

We needed a mobile app partner who could build out our entire product. Fivestar was not founded by technical people, but rather by people from finance, investment banking, marketing, and media. We also had high profile celebrity athletes on board like Wayne Rooney and Alex Morgan (both global soccer stars), among others, so we needed a partner that was used to playing at high levels of sensitivity and spotlight.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Utility provided everything from UX and UI design services to mobile technology services, backend technology services (including server setup), CMS [content management system] web platform development, website design and development, and strategic digital counsel.

They basically handled an end-to-end buildout of a slick mobile app, iOS only, that worked in all environments. The user was able to sign up, unlock and pay for professionally-led training programs, complete drills and tasks, track progress, receive feedback, and even engage in a side-by-side contest with some of the celebrity athletes we had on board. There were also robust sets of tutorials and guides to help users through the experience. Utility also designed and developed our marketing site, which went through several iterations and updates.

While Utility did most the thinking and executing, we did work alongside them at times to help steer our vision. They were definitely creative, especially in terms of mobile-based solutions that we would never have come up with on our own.

What is the team dynamic?

We know there was a branding designer, a UX/UI designer, at least two iOS developers, a senior web services engineer, and a few key project managers who were managing delivery with us.

How did you come to work with Utility?

I knew one of the founders; he was a former colleague from agencies we’d worked at together in the past. I knew he had teamed up with a partner (when forming Utility) who was overseeing digital and mobile initiatives over at Major League Baseball, so that was the main reason we reached out.

Around five other vendors were under consideration. Some were way too expensive, and others were too much like consultants. We needed a full service mobile agency, but one that was boutique enough to make us feel like we were really important. We also needed to go with someone we trusted, and Utility folks convinced us of this early on, not just from the personal connection, but from the meetings we had before we signed the contract and from their body of work.

How much have you invested with them?

It was originally contracted at 250K, but I think it ended up going over a bit because of other, smaller assignments we added along the way.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in March 2013 and finished up at the end of August 2013.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

I can’t share data, but the celebrity fan bases were very positive about the app, and we got tons of great comments and write-ups about it. We got great reviews in the App Store as well. The app has since been taken down for updates, but when it was live, we had a very good standing.

I’ve worked with tons of digital vendors personally, and Utility stacks up with the best. And I’m not just saying that because I know these guys. I cannot risk my reputation when recommending or hiring firms, but I’ve only had positive experiences with them, and the Fivestar project was no different, honestly.

How did Utility perform from a project management standpoint?

Their supervision comes from the top-down, and because they aren’t too big like some other agencies, they have leadership roles ironed into each project. They’re super organized too, with project management and with meetings.

I don’t remember all the project management tools we used, but I’m pretty sure we used Basecamp a lot, as well as Google Docs and some others. We met in person often and did a lot of phone calls on demand as needed.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They over-deliver and don’t nickel-and-dime you. They make products that actually work.

Are there any areas they could improve?

The only area that we could consider an “underestimation” was the video streaming functionality, and getting that to work in all environments seamlessly, without hiccups. That is the nature, though, with anything video-related.

We didn’t have any issues once live, and Utility ended up getting it nailed down perfectly, but it did take time to really get it right and we weren’t aware in the beginning how much work they really needed to put into that. All in all, though, they got it to where it needed to be without us even needing to prod or push.

Advice for potential customers?

It’s very hard to hit timelines, so leave extra room for the unknown. Always assume you will need extra time for testing, refining, and polishing. Utility is as good as they come, but even still, we needed some more time before we were totally comfortable launching this in front of millions of users.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

E-Learning Dev for Major Hospital System

"Utility does stand out as more professional, capable, and forward-thinking than some [other vendors] we’ve dealt with."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Nov. 2016 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Utility leads all digital efforts, including a responsive site redesign and the development of a robust e-learning platform for engaging families through animated video. They also manage the backend and server.

The Reviewer
 
10,001+ Employees
 
New York, New York
Operations Manager, Mount Sinai Hospital (Parenting Center)
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The website Utility rebuilt garnered positive feedback and the e-learning portal, still in progress, is on track with dozens of custom features. The team was fast-moving, communicative, and creative throughout the projects. Utility proved extremely organized, accommodating, and easy to work with.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the operations manager at The Mount Sinai Hospital Parenting Center [MSPC]. We are a 2-year-old startup housed in the Mount Sinai Hospital Department of Pediatrics but are entirely funded by donors, including the Bezos Family Foundation. I have spearheaded all the digital initiatives around our group since the beginning, and I continue to oversee all digital e-learning projects related to our efforts.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Avex Designs?

We decided early on that digital was going to be a very big part of what we do here at the MSPC. We wanted to first create a fresh look for our brand new website, but we also had plans to develop a robust e-learning software portal that brought to life all of our learnings, teachings, and engagement with families.

We are made up of physicians, Ph.D.s, social workers, and other practitioners, most of which do not know much about digital at all. We knew what we wanted to achieve, but we needed a partner to help bring to life all of our plans in an online and mobile way.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

The first part of the project was to design and develop a new, responsive web portal for our entire organization, and the second part was to create an entire interactive e-learning portal with tons of animated video content, as well as “course programming” software development. Utility also manages our server and backend.

They designed and developed an awesome website for the MSPC, one that has been recognized internally as a really great step forward in carrying out the Mount Sinai brand within a new division. The website is optimized for mobile, and has a deep collection of editorial content, video content, and other helpful resources for families and practitioners. They also are in the process of completing the massive e-learning platform that has more than 75+ minutes of animated educational video instruction for new doctors, as well as the entire tech platform needed to facilitate these learning cycles within the course.

There are a lot of features included in this platform, including account profiles, course selection, lesson interaction, a custom media player, progress tracking, content unlocking, quizzes and tests, and also an entire backend portal to allow our organization, as well as other partner institutions, to administer the course to their own residents and doctors.

Utility has become an ongoing regular resource for our group, not just a project vendor. Utility works on our web and e-learning portal on an ongoing basis and they are contracted by us to be our everyday digital arm.

Utility was as creative as we’ve needed them to be, as we’re not digital/tech savvy folks. We’ve been very prepared and able to offer our guidance on goals, objectives, and content, but in terms of functional user experience, layouts, graphic design, etc., Utility has steered all of that from the beginning. There were intense brand guidelines required, and Utility actually did a really good job of creatively integrating our mother brand into the new products we’re developing.

What is the team dynamic?

It started off smaller, but there are probably half a dozen people on the project now, as we enter the bigger parts of the project. We didn’t have any hand in who was assigned to the account, but we’ve also never had any issues with the staff running things on their end. That said, we have direct access to the leadership at Utility and have been assured that if we ever had any issues with anyone, or any of the processes, we could voice that and it could be discussed. Thankfully, this has never needed to come up.

How did you come to work with Avex Designs?

A strong recommendation came from a very close friend. Other suppliers were under consideration. My brother has a big position at a media company, and he was able to recommend some web/mobile partners for us. I also found some options online by searching around. But there really was no comparison in the attention we got from Utility early on in the process, and I also had a high level of trust in the connection I had to the founder already. So, for us, it was an easy decision.

They were not the cheapest option at all (although not the most expensive either), but they struck us as the most capable of handling the wide range of digital work we were going to need over time.

How much have you invested with them?

To date, over $360,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started the engagement in November 2016 and it is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

The success of the already-launched portion of the project was not going to be based on any specific metrics, so there’s nothing concrete to gauge success in terms of numbers. That said, we have anecdotal feedback within Mount Sinai that Utility’s work is very impressive, effective, and worthy of continuing into much bigger assignments. So that says something.

On the other hand, the new [e-learning] platform that will be launching soon is going to be very metrics-heavy, and we will have more data about how users interact, engage, succeed, fail, etc. It won’t be all due to Utility’s work, since a lot of this platform was devised in a truly collaborative way, but we’ll know more then.

I have not used a lot of digital vendors, although I have friends and family that have, and I’m told that my positive experiences are fairly unique and that we’ve gotten lucky in choosing who we decided to link arms with. We have definitely hired other creative/print/video type of vendors, though, and Utility does stand out as more professional, capable, and forward-thinking than some others we’ve dealt with.

How did Avex Designs perform from a project management standpoint?

Utility is very organized and we know their leadership team, so we know it’s also supervised well. We aren’t the most organized team, and we are doing such a large project for the first time, so a lot of patience and coordination has been required. Yet, nothing has ever felt disorganized or off-track. So I’d say we have it pretty good in that area. We also have had a very available and responsive lead producer on the project since the beginning, so that kind of continuity has really been great.

We use Trello (new to us) and it’s made life so much easier. We of course also use email, lots of phone calls, etc. We get together in person when needed. Lots of Google Docs and sheets for project tracking too.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Being flexible, patient, and accommodating would stand out as the top quality that has made this relationship work so well. Their work is solid; the design, tech, animation work is all really top quality. But the part that stands out is how easy they have been to work with, especially on such a big and complicated project with so many stakeholders.

Are there any areas they could improve?

The scope of the project grew beyond what we thought it was originally, although to be fair, that’s very much due to the fact that there were lots of uncertainties early on. Sometimes, Utility likes saying “yes” to a lot of the extra things we request, so perhaps they could be a little stronger on pushing back. But again, that’s always a two-way street and we recognize that.

Advice for potential customers?

Be ready to move fast, give the projects lots of attention, and communicate regularly with the vendor. Utility is really great about making this easy on us, but it’s still a lot of work and one just needs to be prepared to be collaborative in an ongoing way.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Mobile-First Web Dev & Design for Staffing Firm

"Things went really smoothly even though we moved really fast."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Apr. - July 2017
Project summary: 

Utility salvaged a site redesign after a previous vendor was unsatisfactory. They took over development and design, major bug fixing, and also helped internal teams with digital strategy and the re-launch.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
New York, New York
Account Executive, Clarity Staffing
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Utility’s work garnered positive feedback and likely contributed to increased monthly leads. They were proactive and creative in both strategy and execution, and the team was flexible and reliable in cost and project management. They were thorough, accommodating, and they overall saved the project.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

Clarity (claritystaffing.com) is a recruiting firm in New York City. We handle staffing for a variety of clients. I am an account executive, but I am also the marketing manager overseeing things like our website.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Utility?

We needed someone urgently to take over our website design and development, as our previous developer was not delivering and we couldn’t wait any longer. The goal of our website is to promote our company’s services, our methods, our successes, and our leadership. We needed to not only finish the redesign and rebuild we were working on, but we had a lot more we wanted to accomplish and it was all on hold. We needed a fresh set of eyes and hands to take over.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Utility took over all things digital—mostly website work. We needed to clean up the previous developer’s work, tons of it, and develop the new things we wanted that we simply had not gotten to yet.

They first fixed dozens of bugs and other issues across our entire site—everything from issues between browsers, mobile compatibility, and broken functionalities all over. Then, they helped us implement many more dozens of features and functionalities (and redesigns) that our previous developer never got to. They helped with graphic design, UX, UI, backend and frontend development, QA, testing, and release management. The project they inherited required a lot of code refactoring and improvements before they could stabilize the product and help us prepare it for a public re-launch.

They were definitely creative and proactive. We are not digital people, so we needed them to help us there. We had ideas and we helped steer the direction of how we fixed things up, but we needed Utility to advise and help us understand what the possibilities were for each solution we wanted.

What is the team dynamic?

We didn’t really have a hand in the process, but that’s not our specialty. We had a few project managers as well as developers and designers working on the project throughout.

How did you come to work with Utility?

We knew one of the heads at Utility really well, so it was one of the first calls we made. Not many other suppliers were under consideration. We didn’t know what to do, and we knew Utility typically takes on larger projects, but they saw the potential in working with us and growing with us. We needed to fix our issues fast and we didn’t think others could do it.

How much have you invested with them?

It’s been more than $70,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

Utility took over our project in April 2017 and we finished up in July 2017.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Well, our previous developer failed and Utility completely cleaned up their mess. I don’t think there are specific metrics I can provide, but our team is very happy and our owners are getting good feedback from people they show. That said, we did end up getting more leads over the past few months, so maybe it is working!

How did Utility perform from a project management standpoint?

Things went really smoothly even though we moved really fast. They were totally in control and organized. We know the founders; it was definitely supervised well.

We used Trello for tracking all deliverables, approvals, features, etc. We didn’t need Skype or Slack as much, but we definitely used phone and text and email all the time.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They're extremely thorough, which, for non-digital people, makes it nice since we don’t know what we don’t know. They also decided to be really flexible with us on pricing, knowing the situation we were in, knowing there was more budget being carved out for future rounds.

Advice for potential customers?

Have someone digitally-minded manage the agency that is running the tech.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Live Streaming Platform Design & Dev for New TV Network

"We felt like we had someone on our side, versus having an 'outsourced web designer.'"

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Nov 2014 - May 2015
Project summary: 

Utility led design, development, and implementation of a robust web portal and CMS. Their work included responsive development, UX, UI, live video streaming architecture, and advanced search filtering.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
New York, New York
Director, Wall Street Week (SkyBridge Capital)
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Utility was an incredibly responsive team. Their deliverables were of the highest quality and their team was personable and dedicated. They had an impressive attention to detail, were willing to train internal teams on use of the CMS, and they consistently managed all aspects of the project well.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

SkyBridge Capital is a global alternative investment firm that bought the rights to Wall Street Week, a once-popular weekly financial TV show that we wanted to resurrect with our CEO as the host. I was the managing director of media content, so I was in charge of the entire website design and development of the Wall Street Week web portal.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Utility?

We needed to make a robust web portal to server as the digital outlet for all things Wall Street Week. We needed to have live-streaming, tons of content, blogs, and other news and information circulating through the site in a dynamic way. We also needed a team on top of it in real time every day and every week since it was an ongoing live show.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Utility designed and built out a totally new, custom web portal for the revived Wall Street Week show with host Anthony Scaramucci (former CEO of SkyBridge Capital), which ran weekly before getting sold to FOX.

Ultimately, Utility was in charge of all things digital. They were the lead design and development team for the entire web portal, including backend, frontend, UI, UX, the live video streaming service architecture, and the CMS [content management system] to control all the content on the web portal. They built out our entire mobile version of the portal, so it could operate across all devices and screen sizes. They also trained us on how to manage content and they made changes and edits to the site as needed.

The robust web portal they built us was our digital extension of the brand and the TV show. It had tons of regularly posted content, video streaming, archived videos, advanced filtering, blogging, mobile compatibility, social media feeds, and other features.

They did almost all of the thinking in terms of how the website was designed and built, as we are not necessarily digital mavens. We did provide our goals and tell them what we needed to get out of the site, and collaborated during the rounds of UX designs, but they took it all from there and steered the strategies around how to implement and execute everything digitally. This included things we never would have thought about, especially mobile considerations and optimizations.

What is the team dynamic?

The team assigned to us was probably about 5 people or so. There was a project manager who was our dedicated point of contact, and we also had a technical product manager who was in charge of day-to-day operations on the technical side of things. There were also some web engineers and designers assigned to our project that seemed to always be working. I think they also had some testing people who were in charge of quality control.

How did you come to work with Utility?

We learned of them from our head producer’s colleague Leslie Gittess, who had introduced us to them as a personal referral. We had talked to our current providers who do digital work, and we also talked to a few other web design studios (all of which do good work), but we ultimately landed on Utility since they seemed to stand out as the team which really understood our topic matter, as well as live streaming, especially in a mobile world.

They had such a good reputation, but they also made a point to come into our offices multiple times early on to strategize and discuss the assignment and how it might take shape. I remember also liking their previous work on web and live-streaming products, so it was a natural fit.

We had some other vendors we could have used, but we wanted a fresh take, and also, we were on a time crunch and Utility seemed to be able to get going the fastest. They also seemed the most interested.

How much have you invested with them?

Around $100,000

What is the status of this engagement?

We started the engagement in November 2014 and completed the project in April or May of 2015.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

The live streams (and the website) were viewed by hundreds of thousands of viewers over many months, and we got almost all positive reviews on our digital execution. The property Wall Street Week also ended up getting acquired by FOX, so ultimately it was a big success.

From what I’ve seen, they are more attentive and on top of things in real-time than most agencies we have used in the past. They produced really quality work, but their strongest quality is being responsive and communicative, and responding to issues quickly when they arise.

We also really like their design and development skills. We felt it was higher quality and less buggy on the first try than most agencies we’ve worked with. I was really impressed.

How did Utility perform from a project management standpoint?

The supervision was good; we had a real-time project manager behind the scenes and with us who owned all parts of the project. One of Utility’s founders was always around too; who joined various strategy meetings and was around to talk to our CEO when needed as well. We felt our project was very well taken care of, and was in good hands.

We used in-person meetings for a lot of the bigger discussions, as we found it really helpful to see eye to eye on how things were going to roll out. For everything else, daily processing of the project, we worked with the regular mix of communication tools (email, phone, etc). Utility liked to use a lot of project management tools but we weren’t as used to them, so they helped us by using Google Docs and that sort of thing. I think, on their end, they used Trello and JIRA for most project management.

What did you find most impressive about them?

We were really impressed with their attention to detail early on, as well as their ability to act less like a hired agency and more like a partner.

They were really helpful in educating us about digital and technology along the way, and I think that’s probably unique. They were patient with us, but very aggressive with making sure we hit timelines. We felt like we had someone on our side, versus having an “outsourced web designer.”

Are there any areas they could improve?

They didn’t ever really mess up or anything, and they were really likeable, so it’s hard to come up with suggestions to improve. I think digital projects are complicated, and Utility fought through a lot of hurdles to get to the finish line.

The only thing we could have known up front was that video streaming costs were going to be a little more substantial than we thought (using a third-party service provider). But that’s not exactly their fault, it’s just something we didn’t know a lot about when the project started.

Advice for potential customers?

I’m sure every project is really different, so it’s hard to say. But one thing we could have done better was define all content and strategic vision a little more. Being as prepared as possible before engaging with an agency will make the process as smooth as possible. We weren’t all on exactly the same page internally, and that caused a slightly slower start.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Registration & Booking Portal Dev for Marketing Agency

“They’re very hands-on, and make the client feel like they’re really invested in their business.”

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
4.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Oct. 2016 - Feb. 2017
Project summary: 

Utility rapidly designed and developed a robust event registration portal and booking portal, both of which are mobile-compatible and have integrated on-site functionalities.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
New York, New York
Senior Account Director, Agency
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Utility delivered clean and easy-to-use technology amidst a fast-approaching deadline due to their flexibility and creativity. Both portals were successful and garnered positive feedback. They proved themselves as a solid partner with devotion, potent project management, and an ideal collaboration.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

We’re an experiential marketing company based in New York City. I’m the senior account director, and our office is in Los Angeles.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Utility?

We needed some work done for our online marketplace and hospitality business. We needed a digital provider for the project we were embarking on, so Utility did the online experience and platform for the large-scale conference which brought users together in one place.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We wanted to develop a clean, simple, online portal to drive people to the information that they needed. The more complicated challenge was putting forth the speaker series schedule where users could go in and see the content over multiple days, select certain sessions, then receive confirmation emails and instructions on how to check in. Utility was instrumental in helping us work through this challenge.

We briefed them on our vision for the program and development for the online portal, then started the initial build. There were a lot of changes during development due to trying to pull the speaker symposium together with all the stakeholders, speakers, content, bios, headshots, travel, etc. It was hard to have all that information completely prepared and ready to launch on-site at an early stage.

After the initial portal build, they started revising what we thought we originally needed in order to approach the situation a bit differently. Basically, phase two was more of a follow-up redevelopment. We then planned on moving onto information gathering and working towards the actual launch date.

We also needed to provide a scheduling tool for the 8 meeting rooms in the booth, which added an additional phase to the separate scope and acted as a landing page. Utility built the online meeting schedule tool for our clients to use for meetings, cancellations, additions to the calendar, and other functionalities. They created a seamless on-site process.

The registration portal had a reporting site, so it was important for us to see who was registered for what. It was a robust site due to its flexibility and ability to allow us to make changes, launch communications, and have an easily-viewable and manipulatable check-in sheet for the on-site process.

The portals were also optimized for mobile. The entire schedule acted like a Google Calendar, so users could go in and select the room they wanted for particular time slots, then it would be shaded out. There was also a series of drop-down menus for users to input their information, and a series of automated email notifications that provided a clean and user-friendly process.

The entire project was a collaborative effort, but Utility provided insight and creative thinking. They balanced the project with a budget and what they thought was reasonable. They may have had some experience already built that they could leverage, but for the most part, we worked through it together. We had a tight timeline, and it was a big project, so it wasn’t the easiest thing to accomplish. It was our first time handling this type of thing, so we had to really work with Utility to figure everything out.

What is the team dynamic?

We had one dedicated project manager who we worked with on the frontlines with oversight from their leadership, David [Co-Founder, Utility]. I’m not sure how many people they had on staff or what resources they kept on-call, but I believe they had to pull in some additional resources in order to execute quickly.

David provided the resources who worked on the project, so we spoke with him frequently. We had a couple of in-person meetings where he and Derek, our project manager, came to the office. David was visible and invested in the project, details, and edits with Derek, but he also worked with Derek on the project holistically and oversaw things.

After the initial build, and once we mapped out the details for the redevelopment, they had to onboard a few additional people.

How did you come to work with Utility?

They had worked on a similar account, so we knew of them from our internal practices. Aside from them being an existing client of ours, there was an existing relationship with one of their executives from a previous agency.

We’ve worked with some good companies in the past, but we like Utility because of their small size. They’re very hands-on, and make the client feel like they’re really invested in their business.

How much have you invested with them?

We spent $100,000 on the project.

What is the status of this engagement?

We engaged with them in October 2016, and the event took place in February 2017. They weren’t working constantly during that period, but there were intervals of heavy production.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

We were happy with the way things looked and how they functioned. They developed a clean and sleek portal, and also took our brand guidelines and delivered accordingly. The functionality worked well, but since our forward-facing portal wasn’t broadly distributed, we didn’t have any external feedback. We’re very happy with their work, and the feedback was very good. It exceeded some of the work we’ve received in the past.

How did Utility perform from a project management standpoint?

They performed well, and were always on top of things. There were times when we required resources around the clock, and they pushed themselves to be able to do that. They did their best to keep us on track with deadlines and dependencies. We worked together in terms of project management.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Their ability to jump in and get the job done right under a tight deadline with many moving variables is impressive. They were flexible, which is something we require of any agency. Things change and information comes in late, so we oftentimes have to work very hard to execute accurately and quickly. Utility did a good job of staying by our side throughout the entire process.

Are there any areas they could improve?

They could maybe benefit from paying more attention to details in some aspects. For example, we would have to proof and catch some things, but this may have been a product of rapid development. That’s a minor criticism.

4.0
Overall Score It was a good experience. It was a challenging project, but they were a good partner.
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They stayed on schedule. They delivered what we needed them to for the most part.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They’re willing to work with companies on existing budgets. I thought they provided a fair value for what they billed.
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They were a solid agency, and they did a good job.
  • 4.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    Depending on what the project was, I would be very willing to recommend them to a colleague.

AR Interactive Game Dev for Large Sporting Event

"Their ability to get the project done by any means is commendable."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Nov. 2014 - Feb. 2015
Project summary: 

Utility created wireframes and rapidly developed an iOS and Android application with built-in augmented reality components and integrated branding.

The Reviewer
 
11- 50 Employees
 
El Segundo, California
Senior Director, Agency
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Utility delivered a solution that users praised for its immersive experience and functionality despite working with a tight deadline and a cost-conscious approach. Their adaptability and steadfast dedication are exemplary, and they always kept the client’s best interest in mind.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

We’re an entertainment marketing agency, and we service many different CPG [consumer package goods] across the board from multiple different companies. I’ve been here for 6–7 years, and I manage the experimental division of our business.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Utility?

We knew they were knowledgeable in the space. We were looking for a turnkey solution because we were facing a tight deadline and wanted to provide an additional engagement piece for consumers during a large sporting event weekend for one of our clients.

Many of the assets already existed, but the process of being able to refine them and ensure our client was happy was of the utmost importance. We reached out to the client and discussed some sort of field goal challenge, then worked with Utility to create the AR [augmented reality] solution.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

The app was for iOS and Android, and development was a 2–3 month process. We didn’t have the time and resources to make sure it got approved on the App Store, which was the biggest challenge. We were able to execute and still have an effective engagement tool that we could leverage on-site through our experiential activation.

Utility provided all the wireframes, and we assisted them with how the brand would be incorporated. With our activations, we try to find organic times that resonate with the event function and also the brand. They took something that could be a cookie-cutter app or game and made the experience a lot more immersive.

Users could download the app, but since the AR mechanism was in our space, they had to be within our footprint in order to use it. Consumers could download it on their phone, but we had it set up as an activation on an iPad so they could do the field goal challenge through AR.

There were two teams and a challenge within the game, and it also had both single-player and multiplayer functions. The client’s branding was really incorporated throughout the entire app, including on the welcome screens and when the user kicked the ball. Utility was able to organically tie the client into the football field. There’s also a big megatron in the back that we’re able to plug in with the client’s assets. Consumers use a mobile phone which leverages a camera and triggers an image, ultimately providing an immersive experience.

The creative balance was no problem. Our client had a lot of trust in us since they’d been with us for 6 years. We were pretty clear about what we needed to achieve.

Utility was not asked to help with marketing.

What is the team dynamic?

There were 2–3 resources from their team working on the project. Our main point of contact was David Cohen [Co-Founder, Utility], and we spoke 2–3 times a week due to our tight deadline. The size of the team remained consistent.

How did you come to work with Utility?

We have mutual friends of the agency, and we’ve also worked with them in the past. We’re an experimental agency, and they’re more of a software-dev agency, so we’ve brought each other business.

We might have reached out to other companies, but because of our cost and turnaround, Utility made the most sense. For them, it wasn’t so much about making money than it was creating a case study. We have a good relationship with them.

What is the status of this engagement?

We were working on this project for the large sporting event in 2015, so we started in November or December of 2014. The project was completed a couple days before the event.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

The client was thrilled. We had a handful of consumers go through our space, and they really enjoyed the technology. A couple notable celebrities played the game, and they also thought it was really cool.

Unfortunately, our contact at the company is no longer present. It’s less about how we can do more AR and more about thinking about new technologies, leveraging them, and tying them into our events.

From a process, overall budget, and solution standpoint, I believe it was a good case study.

How did Utility perform from a project management standpoint?

They were great. They delivered on a tight timeline and budget, and we managed to get the game loaded and working. Everyone was happy.

We communicated via email and phone.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Their ability to get the project done by any means is commendable.

Are there any areas they could improve?

No. They’re a good group.

5.0
Overall Score They are a versatile and nimble dev agency that is looking for partners to grow with.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They rapidly executed the project while keeping the budget in mind.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They weren’t looking to make a bunch of money, but rather how they could use this project as a case study.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They turned something around on a very tight timeline in a cost-effective way.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I would absolutely refer them to anyone in the dev world.

Frontend & Backend Swift Development for Agency

“It seemed like the entire team was behind me.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Mid 2014 - Early 2015
Project summary: 

Utility used Swift, Zeppelin, and Sketch to develop the front and backend of a marketing application. They also developed a CMS and contributed to overall marketing strategies.

The Reviewer
 
11- 50 Employees
 
New York, New York
Remy Sylvan
Former Senior User Experience Designer & Product Owner, Impact Republic
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The app was downloaded 3 million times within 8 months due in part to Utility’s polished UI design, which they executed a week ahead of schedule. All-around dedication to the project and the ability to dissect requirements nurtured success. Adaptability and communication are also prominent assets.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I was the former senior user experience designer and product owner of Impact Republic, located in New York, New York.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Utility?

I was a client at the time for an agency that was managing the artist Usher. We had a couple of digital products that needed to be made, so we contacted Utility. Their main objective was to develop the application for the upcoming tour.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

The application was used for marketing. We had a partnership with Target where we were hosting content, and we also sold merchandise where users could get exclusive content while Usher was in town. There are special messages and notifications for fans, and he also sold certain exclusive and limited merchandise. At the time, he was releasing videos and music, so we could also host all of this content on the app as well. We needed a front and backend built, which is where Utility came in.

The development cycle was pretty seamless. At the time, Utility was privy to a lot of new technology that made the process easier, so our experience with them was much more efficient than what we’d experienced with other dev shops. Zeppelin was a huge addition to the project at that time, and Sketch was just coming out. Utility was using Sketch when no other vendor really was. The product was built in Swift, and they also developed a custom CMS.  

They helped with strategy on a very loose basis. When you’re in the midst of building things, strategic advice is needed overall. They gave marketing advice as the conversation came up, but it was a service that they mainly provided.

What is the team dynamic?

I know that they worked directly with our designers on the UI.

How did you come to work with Utility?

We had a couple of digital products that needed to be made, so we contacted Utility.

What is the status of this engagement?

We’re no longer working with them.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Since Usher was involved, this caused more downloads. The app got about 3 million worldwide downloads over the course of the 8 months he was on tour. The age range of those users were anywhere from 19–33. The most active users were in the U.S., but the app was also available across Europe, including London, Belgium, Paris, and anywhere else he stopped on tour. We required users to get special tickets or items per city, and we released constantly while we were in town.

In terms of the development style, I did a lot of the product requirements myself. I’ve worked with a lot of dev shops, but Utility is my favorite because they’re able to dissect requirements and put them into actual tasks to make a great product in a timely manner. Their adaptability left a huge impression.

We had a timeline of a month strictly for UI/UX frontend development, and they were able to get it done within 3 weeks, which included rounds of revisions with me.

How did Utility perform from a project management standpoint?

We didn’t have any issues. We were having problems on our side because we were on tour and there was so much going on. David [Co-Founder, Utility] was very communicative, and made sure to call if he had any questions. They’re one of the most communicative teams I’ve dealt with. Apart from David, I could also contact the designer if I had any questions. If I had a development question, I could also contact the development project manager on staff and talk to them.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Project management in 2014 was extremely difficult to manage. The handoff with assets and making sure that designers and developers collaborated and communicated effectively was difficult back then. Utility’s use of Sketch and Zeppelin made the entire process virtually painless, and I still use that process they introduced to us with my new builds. Their designers also managed to create a slick UI in a timely fashion.

I like that they involve their team members and allow them the independence to tackle projects on their own. It seemed like the entire team was behind me.

Are there any areas they could improve?

When I was working with them, their designers weren’t the best. However, over time, I’ve seen that increase dramatically as we’ve done other projects with them. I’ve worked with 10 different dev shops during my experience, and Utility remains on top because of the paperwork, client management, delivery, and involvement with the team.

I’m unsure how their projects run, but if they operate like that all the time, then that’s great. If they could offer that to all of their clients, that would be even better.

Do you have any advice for potential clients?

I suggest knowing what the specific project entails. A client never wants to make the shop think for them too much. David often stressed to me the importance of coming up with a feature set beforehand. Without the feature set, the dev shop won’t be able to create the ideal product.

Also, be very clear with David, because he’s going to be very clear with his clients. If the client is vague, there will be communication gaps. He’s very good at letting clients set expectations at the beginning.

Some clients are strict regarding paperwork and want a document stating exactly how the process will be handled. When in the process of making a product, Utility doesn’t provide this kind of paperwork too often. I personally don’t think it’s needed, because if the process is unique, the product will be better. Utility will make sense out of the process regardless if the client knows what they’re doing.

5.0
Overall Score I still refer them business.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They were ahead of schedule.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    We paid a premium for it, but we received a service that was excellent. It was worth it.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    Whenever I have clients who need something complex built, I typically refer to Utility if the client has the budget.

Mobile App Dev for Sports Telehealth Business

"They were always attentive and got back to us when we needed it."

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Apr. 2015 - June 2016
Project summary: 

Utility led UI/UX and development for an iOS, Android, and web-based platform. They optimized the integration of TokBox and DICOM complex technologies, and also provided QA.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Miami, Florida
Andrew Willert
Director of Business Development, SirenMD
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Their responsiveness and timeliness helped increase organizational involvement, and clients often compliment the UI/UX. Communication has remained consistent despite working remotely, and they’ve seamlessly integrated any improvements.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

SirenMD is a platform available on iOS, Android, and web. Our company is three years old, and we provide a HIPAA-secure environment for communication and documentation between caregivers. Our primary client bases are high schools, colleges, and professional athletic teams, as well as hospitals, urgent care centers, and other types of health systems. We are the mobile electronic medical record for all things sports medicine.

I’m the director of business development, and I help with build-testing, as well as development and adding new features.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Utility?

We had developed a product shell before working with them, but needed to take it to the next level. There were a number of features we needed to both add and improve.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Utility’s primary responsibility was maintaining and improving the existing platform, followed by developing and adding new features. 

Our software is efficient and mobile in order to help with the communication and documentation between and amongst caregivers, thus taking it out of the Windows/DOS 90s-era technology.

The mobile app uses TokBox for video and phone-calling functionalities for caregivers. There is an ability to upload and view DICOM [Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine] images using the Ambra platform on the mobile and web-based apps.

Much of our UI/UX had been completed when we brought Utility on board, but they’ve since made improvements.

What is the team dynamic?

We had a tech lead on our end who was also based in New York, and he was the liaison between us and Utility in terms of speaking the developmental language, then conveying to us exactly what we needed to do. For any new feature, we would have our tech lead articulate and work through it to determine what the functionality and graphical portion would be. Utility would then create or improve that feature for us, then deliver a build of the new and improved version.

QA was performed on both sides, and, if it wasn’t quite like we wanted it, we would get back in touch. We primarily worked with two individuals from Utility, but we also had 5–6 people working on the project who we didn’t directly interact with.

We used JIRA to log issues or anything that needed to be changed. It was an efficient way to troubleshoot, and to ultimately accomplish our goals.

How did you come to work with Utility?

We went through a variety of options. They had great recommendations, and one of our staff members had had a good experience with them in the past.

How much have you invested with them?

Their involvement cost around $450,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with them in April 2015, and the project was compelted in June 2016.

We’ve been working with Utility for a long time, and we’ve had a positive experience throughout. We have continued the work, both in terms of product maintenance, and adding new features.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

The total number of organizations or teams we work with have increased from zero to 35 in the one-year span of working with Utility.

Clients have complimented the great UI/UX, simplistic layout, and ease of navigation. Any improvements made were smooth in terms of updating the application as well.

How did Utility perform from a project management standpoint?

They were always attentive and got back to us when we needed it. Geography was not an issue, even though they are based in New York and most of us are based in Miami or South Florida. We couldn't tell the difference while on the phone or using Skype. 

What did you find most impressive about them?

I started working for the company towards the end of our time with Utility, but, as I learned more about them, I was struck by some of the clients they’d had. They’d helped celebrities with apps, and it was impressive to me that a company in New York would have that kind of client base.

Are there any areas they could improve?

No. Overall, they did a very good job. They have remained attentive and responsive despite being geographically dispersed. If there is an outage, or if something goes wrong with the app, they are timely and communicative, which is of utmost importance when dealing with health care.

Do you have any advice for future clients of theirs?

It’s important to make sure appropriate resources are assigned to projects before beginning a serious relationship with Utility, or any other organization. We needed someone who speaks the developmental language, and also someone who could communicate and remain efficient. It’s important that everyone is on the same page so that time isn’t wasted when it comes to maintenance or adding features.

4.5
Overall Score Our collaboration was great.
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Utility was willing to work with us, which was great, but being in New York adds cost to anything.
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They were very good.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    A few of our members have referred Utility.

Product Development for Consumer Entertainment Startup

“[They're] been instrumental in translating what we were asking for into an actual product.”

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
June 2015 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Utility developed a unified web/mobile solution meant to upload & share multimedia. The platform enables seamless project collaboration for distributed user groups. Ongoing enhancements are now the main focus.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Los Angeles, California
Co-Founder & CEO
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Utility’s strength lay in communicating with people unfamiliar with the tech world. The platform allow for significant increases in data processing capabilities and provide an exemplary user experience.

BACKGROUND

Please introduce your business and what you do there.

UrLife Media is a startup. I have a background in entertainment marketing and own a company which creates movie trailers, TV commercials, and entertainment campaigns. My co-founder was a Hollywood producer for 20 years. We identified a market and moved our skillsets from the storytelling and packaging-of-content spaces to user-generated content. UrLife Media takes user-generated content, gives is a custom narrative, and packages it in the style of a movie trailer, with custom stories, professional voiceovers, graphics, and visual effects. We do this by using actual, human editors, and not an algorithm. I'm a co-founder and CEO of the company. I manage day-to-day operations, from strategic all the way down to tactical marketing and sales.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What business challenge were you trying to address with Utility?

When we started out, we were pushing a B2C model and knew that we needed a technology platform which could help facilitate growth in that segment. The website we needed was unique in that it would move large amounts of video data across the web. It needed to be as user-friendly, intuitive and efficient as possible. We talked to a few companies early on and found that we weren't getting what we needed. Utility came from a few good references. They started a conversation with us about our website, but also digging down to an app-based system. We figured that most users capture content on their phones, so we needed to give them a simple process for handling that video.

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their involvement.

We had a few back-and-forth conversations around what we needed the website and app-based platforms to do. We needed to build a true MVP, and start the architecture of what we could start building off of that.

We're based in LA, while Utility is New-York-based. We spent a lot of time bridging that communication gap through conference calls: we needed to figure out the workflow, what was and wasn't possible. We had some product testing and developed the process in a relatively standard flow. Utility wanted to understand what our end result needed to be, and they helped shape it along the way.

Utility built everything on both our site and our apps. We will be launching an update shortly, which will be a big departure from the MVP. Having the ability to crowdsource ideas from users was a big thing. When a whole group goes on vacation, there is never one person capturing all the content. We knew that we needed to start one project and invite other collaborators into it, so that everyone could pull source footage from different users. That has been a big change for us, along with the batch upload of pictures and video from camera rolls, picking start and end-points, and putting everything in between.

Our site is responsive, but our iOS app is best suited for phones. We provide a web app for Android and GoPro users. It's a mirrored system, meaning that people can start a project on the app, and it will be carried over on the web platform. We are also working on a native Android app.

With the first two companies we talked to, we had no framework for our project.Utility imagined everything from scratch. They did a ton of heavy lifting in order to get us to where we are.

I have been in constant communication with at least four people from Utility's team, including their principal. We use resources on an as-needed basis.

How did you come to work with Utility?

We were introduced to a few companies early on and had some intros with them. They weren't the right fit for us, so we set out on a new search, interviewed three other companies, including Utility. We immediately felt that they were the best fit for us, both from a philosophical standpoint but also in terms of what they could bring to the table. My partner and I, not coming from the tech space at all, needed to rely heavily on Utility's team in order to communicate and action our vision.

What is the status of this engagement?

I don't remember when we started the collaboration.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?

Our ability handle user data has increased exponentially; we can upload and process significantly more video than before. Every new update we make brings a smoother, faster, and more efficient platform.

How did Utility perform from a project management standpoint?

I am not used to working in the tech world; I don't know how long things should take and how the process world. Utility has been instrumental in translating what we were asking for into an actual product, but also providing some education to us as far as how things are built and what the timelines are. From a responsiveness point of view, Utility was always there for us, making progress and keeping us updated about it.

We've had a big launch with a partner, and needed to make sure that the latest update would be up and ready. It was for the NFL's on-location experience within the travel arm for the London Games. We had to make sure that we'd be ready prior to the event, so Utility worked round the clock for weeks - maybe even a month - getting our platform ready in time. Never along the way was I concerned that we wouldn't be making the target. Utility gave me feedback and progress reports, letting me know if we needed to push harder on something or if we needed to make different choices based on our timeline. Utility always made us a part of the process.

Utility uses Trello for tracking progress and sharing feedback and ideas. I can use it to drop in priorities or tasks which can be put in the backlog. From a communication standpoint, it's great.

What distinguishes Utility from other providers?

The other developers we spoke to tried to tell us how our product needed to fit in the space. Utility really listened to what we were going for and tried to make the space fit with our product, if that makes any sense.

We created a platform that transfers video from place to place and has an internal marketplace where freelance editors can come in and select projects to work on. They can download and upload material, as well as use a communication platform between them, the producers and the customers.

We wanted to use our entertainment industry perspective on how workflows should be, from a creative and communication standpoint. Utility was very open about learning that and making sure that they created something that coincided with what we were looking for based on our past experiences.

Is there anything Utility could have improved or done differently?

The criticism is not a fault of Utility's. In any business, we will only be able to move at a certain speed. We can't make computers render work faster, and there are other limitations. It's simply a fact of being used to working in a certain way; timelines don't translate from industry to industry. Utility needed to educate us on this front. How they've approached everything has been good for us.

Early on, I didn't find the design of the platform to be as good as it could be. During our process, Utility brought on some new people, and the design elevated from our starting point.

Do you have any recommendations for others considering working with Utility?

If the client has worked with agencies like Utility before, the process is not going to be something new. It's a function of the business. In the edit bay, I can ask someone to finish a task in one hour that should have taken three hours and they can do it, because a human can work faster, compared to putting the work into a box and asking it to render.

If design is a critical aspect, I would explore where Utility is at the moment. Clients may want to bring on a designer who can liaise with Utility if their skills are not up to the standard. Everything else, in terms of workflow, efficiency, and functionality, is top notch.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    Everyone can improve on deadlines, deliveries and so on.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    As with anything, there was a bit of back and forth around deliverables in order to fine-tune them. Utility didn't deliver perfect results every time, but no one can.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Long-Term Dev for Entertainment Agency

"We've thrown them a lot of curveballs, and they've always managed to figure out a solution."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Nov. 2014 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Utility handles information architecture, data security, and custom software integration for a variety of projects. Key features include user authentication, currency exchange, and geolocation.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
New York, New York
VP, Global Program Lead, Civic Entertainment Group
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Utility has delivered exceptional results for every task, no matter how complicated the work or how short the deadline. Their agile team and ability to handle curve balls put them far ahead of their competitors.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the director of Civic, a branding and marketing agency. We do a wide variety of things, such as proprietary events, product launches, marketing campaigns, and so on.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Utility?

Utility provides continuous development for our own clients. The scope of work was minor at first but expanded rapidly as we built trust together.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Information architecture was a huge piece of Utility’s work for us because there were a lot of major constraints around data security with the client we were working with. We also wanted to create a seamless experience between the client’s website and this external platform. Utility did a great job of mapping out the information architecture and data security, figuring out how to approach building the registration platform in a seamless way. We were also looking at other ways to do registration ticketing, so Utility spent a lot of time vetting all of the third-party integrations and APIs we were exploring to see what would work best.

There wasn't a true off-the-shelf solution for what we wanted, so Utility built a lot of custom features for us. They vetted what was in the marketplace and outlined some of the constraints. One of the critical things we needed was a process that could use the client’s primary website and API for people to log in and register. In their first year, Utility built a mechanism that could verify someone’s eligibility to attend the event and allow them to register, but there were so many privacy and data issues that we had major restrictions around how that information could be stored. Utility had to create custom logic based on what types of yes and no questions to ask to get to the right answer since we couldn't technically access the client information database. That was huge.

The mechanism we were using for ticketing wasn't able to do currency exchange, so Utility built a workaround for us to address euros versus dollars on our registration website. That was a huge last-minute ask that came up just prior to launch. Utility was able to solve the problem, and it ended up working out seamlessly.

Utility also helped with another custom integration, a one-on-one speed networking solution that managed the same privacy and data constraints. We also added NFC [near field communication] bracelets that did onsite geolocation. They linked to registration and lit up based on what session people were going to.

Utility ended up being the primary conduit for any additional tech integration throughout the program. Even if the additions weren’t related to the core platforms that Utility had built, they definitely became the shepherds of all the other technology components, whether it was for check-ins, the bracelets, or the networking platform. We had someone on our team who was able to give context or explain what the bracelets needed to do, but Utility definitely was able to make sure everything was functioning on the backend. I’m familiar with a lot of these things, but I don't have a technical background, so they were able to help communicate in layman’s terms for both us and our clients.

How did you come to work with Utility?

I was already familiar with Utility’s work through a previous colleague. We needed to find the right partner and an agency that could be agile. I knew that Utility had a marketing background and agency experience, which is pretty rare for most tech companies. At the time, we were also considering two other companies, both referrals. Utility’s flexibility and troubleshooting skills appealed to us. We told them about some of the issues we’d had with another shop the year before. Utility did a great audit of that process in figuring out how to address some of those technical challenges, which was definitely something that stood out to us.

How much have you invested with Utility?

I think we’ve invested around $850,000 with Utility over the past couple of years. Our budget started out much lower, but we kept adding to it.

What is the status of this engagement?

I think we started working with Utility in late 2014 or early 2015. We’re still working together, and with all the things we have coming up, we’ll probably look to extend to a minimum two-year contract at the end of 2018. 

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or impact of the engagement?

Utility has never interfered with us being able to push something live. We did a major product launch for a client last fall that included a live-stream with nearly three million viewers. Utility was able to prepare for and adjust to the necessary bandwidth to handle that project with ease. All of the media marketing pointed to the site that Utility built instead of the client’s main site. I think it was pretty huge having everything work seamlessly and smoothly throughout the product launch live-stream that first day and over the next three days.

How did Utility perform from a project management standpoint?

Their team has grown, but they had probably four to five people who were client-facing with my team. From looking at timesheets, we could see there were a lot of engineers and designers who worked behind the scenes on the project to make sure we were able to hit deadlines. When we had fast turnaround times, Utility could even call their resources overseas who supplemented their team. We introduced our client to Utility’s members who eventually became part of our team. The client loved them. We’ve hired them and extended their contract three times now. It’s been great.

Utility is good about tracking their time. Our client requested a million changes, and Utility was good about keeping track of what was out of scope versus what was in scope. It was a clear and concise process.

What did you find most impressive about Utility?

The biggest difference between Utility and other shops we’ve worked with is their agility and dedication. We’ve thrown them a lot of curveballs, and they've always managed to figure out a solution. With other shops, we’d have technical challenges or broken links, and we haven't had any of those issues in the last three years with Utility. They’re quick to identify the source of any bugs or issues. Problems are bound to come up, but Utility digs into the root cause of the issue and comes up with a solution that works in perpetuity instead of applying a quick fix. That ability is what I appreciate the most about them. We don't keep having the same problems again and again. That’s important.

Another big thing that stands out about Utility is their agility. Most of the time, QA is for technical bugs. With Utility, we don't find any technical bugs, but the client will have a laundry list of items they want to change because they changed their mind, or they want a new icon, or they want a different color, or the words are different. Utility has been super flexible in addressing those kinds of requests. A lot of other digital teams are more rigid about those kinds of concerns: they don't want to compromise or mess with the code so close to when the project is supposed to go live. Utility is comfortable with accommodating those changes or telling the client how to batch updates so that they still get what they want without compromising the website. That’s been critical.

Are there any areas Utility could improve?

Our project may sound super straightforward on paper, but it’s actually not. One of the biggest things Utility improved, especially going from their first year to their second year, was having a dedicated account manager to track changes, dates and deadlines, file transfers, etc. I think that has continued to improve our experience working with Utility. It wasn’t a huge problem, but it was clear that what we thought the project was and what the project needed were two different things. Adding a dedicated account manager was the biggest thing Utility has done to impact the process positively. 

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    I’d give Utility a 10 if I could.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I would refer them to anyone. I think the greatest thing about them is that they’re not a cookie-cutter solution. They’ve been able to address and find a solution for any need that has arisen.