Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
A lot of the stuff that Y-Designs has worked on, we haven’t actually released yet. We’re actually on the cusp of that. I really wish you had called me in 3 or 4 months so that I would have these metrics. In our beta testing, the design and function of the app, as well as the extension of the web apps, have been really well-received. Those are what we’ve tested with smaller groups, especially compared to where we were. I can’t tell you enough. They beat all of our expectations. Our system has processed about 120 million pay-for-performance transactions and posts with the design we have now from 2015, which is a pretty big number.
A lot of shops like this can build WordPress sites, or they’ll change CMS extensions, or they can build a stand-up shop. But we asked Y-Designs to really get into the backbone of something that was home-brewed by our engineers, and they did a phenomenal job. We were building our API at the same time that they were building on it, and it somehow worked together. They were a really key piece of that. To give you a picture, I think our base rate for some design changes was $120 an hour. That is a lot higher than what we could get elsewhere, especially if we outsourced and went overseas. But the actual productivity and the quality of the work made that cost seem a lot smaller compared to something else. What I expect out of them from a couple hours of work is insanely higher than what I’d expect from paying $50 an hour somewhere else at a bigger shop.
How did Y-Designs perform from a project management standpoint?
It’s actually a combination. Over the past 6 months or so, they have other projects and things going on. But in terms of what we’ve been working on, they’ve almost been an extension of our team. My CTO and my engineers can reach out to any one of their guys at any time. The response rates are incredibly fast. We’ve had some team huddles and brought both teams together probably every other week, maybe once a month. I do have a single point of contact with Ryuhei, who is the head guy over there.
We budgeted a certain amount of time to get certain things done, especially on the app side. Initially, we were really skeptical when they came in with their timelines. We had the project really spec’d out. We knew exactly what functionality we needed and what it needed to look like. We knew exactly what needed to be built. We came together with Ryuhei’s team and they said, “All right, we can get this done in X amount of time.” Coming from every other quote and doing it ourselves, we thought it was going to take way longer than that. We said, “Okay, we’ll see how it goes. If it takes longer, that’s okay.” They ended up actually beating their own timeline, which is really impressive to us.
I’d generally say it’s been incredibly smooth. They’ve been very professional and very responsive. They have a critical eye. If they see something is up with our specs, they’ll look at that and come up with suggestions. Their recommendations helped us save money and make things more efficient. All-around, they’re a set of engineers and designers that come in and really care about the projects that they work on.
What did you find most impressive about Y-Designs?
I was a senior product manager at Amazon before coming over here to start Trenzi, and I had a team of about 30 engineers working on various products. I can really say that Y-Designs can move the ball faster and harder than even a team of 30 engineers at a very large, well-established corporation. That’s because they know so much about the technology landscape. Y-Designs is always reading and always experimenting. They’ve seen a lot of clients, so they’re definitely a really good crutch for anyone who wants to build something pretty big. We went through a startup accelerator program and got connected to a lot of the other startups in Seattle. Every time I meet a new CEO or anyone that runs into this problem, or anyone that wants to build an app, I always give them Y-Designs’ website to try and help them out. They are definitely one of the hardest things to find if you’re trying to build a tech company.
When you work with other firms, especially the larger ones, it’s a turnaround turn-key shop. You come in, ask for a logo or a website, ask for a piece of tech, and you have to spec it out really hard. You might get 1 or 2 meetings and face time with them and try to start working. Plus, revisions are hard and expensive and all that. None of those problems exist with Y-Designs. They are extremely efficient with the hours that they put towards you and what they bill you for.
There’s trust. I think that’s the biggest thing. We had gotten burned by another outsource company when we were trying to hire some internal resources. It was a one-off project, so we didn’t really want to hire internal resources. We wanted people that would be just as committed to getting the job done and just as enthusiastic about our product. We ended up finding the best of both worlds in Y-Designs. That’s what they delivered. At the end of the day, we’re still contracting with them.
Are there any areas Y-Designs could improve?
To be honest, in my eyes, there’s not any. If I were to go back and do another web design project, build another app, something like that, they’d be the first people I would go to. To me, they set the bar and the example.