Django Stars developed a custom scalable, Django-based platform to modernize the a sports merchandising website.
The platform functions well and fulfills its intended purpose. Django Stars' low-level engineering skills also brought flexibility to the process, facilitating the development of three separate customer websites within a short timeframe.
“They really conform to industry best practices, along with being able to provide great insights."
Could you provide a brief description of your organization?
We’re a startup company active in European football marketing. We basically provide what we call ‘curated fan buying’ for sponsors. We integrate directly with the websites of football clubs, and provide deals for fans. We put together deals on a weekly basis for various clubs. We offer fan discounts on merchandise, hopefully from the club sponsors, and allow them to have interactions with their fans. The sponsors get something from the exposure with the fans. The fans hopefully get a good deal. The club obviously gets a cut of the sales, and we get a cut of the sales.
What is your position?
I’m the chief technology officer.
Could you describe the business challenges you were attempting to address when you first approached Django Stars?
We were basically looking for a new platform. The decision was made that we wanted to go with the Django-based platform, and then we were able to reuse some technology that has been used for other deal sites around the world. We had access to some old code, which had been proven and already deployed and serving customers.
What we were looking for was a vendor able to help us modernize the platform and drive it forward. We have a slightly different model than many deal sites have. We’re not city orientated. We’re not based with any specific a locale. We’re based on a football club. We had some modifications to the model, and to the engine itself. We were looking for a partner that had significant Python and Django experience. Django Stars came to us highly recommended by a close business partner of ours.
The decision to use Django was made before I joined the company. When looking at all the different platform options, from my personal point of view, I’ve had quite good experience in my career with Django and Python. From a performance and software language point of view, I believe Python is the superior choice compared to Ruby. There was absolutely no way we were going to go with PHP. We went with Django because it was a platform on which we had a lot of experience, where we had code available, and we could get some high-quality developers.
Could you describe the scope of this project in greater detail?
We use them primarily for development tasks. We’ve tried to do some graphic design tasks with them, but that’s not where their strength is. They support all of our custom development needs. When we’re looking at a tricky situation, trying to figure how to handle shipping to Russia or something like this, we wanted to have a partner that could approach those situations with prior experience and knowledge. They had a lot of experience from previous projects, so they’re able to bring a broad range of prior knowledge to the table. Plus, all they do is Python and Django development, which made them a great fit for our work.
It’s not like they picked up the newest fly by night technology and decided to make a business out of it. They have a deep foundation of people that program exclusively with Python. That’s also one of the reasons we went with that technology stack, is that it tends to attract people with an interest in computer science, algorithms, and performance optimization. They really conform to industry best practices, along with being able to provide great insights into areas we hadn’t considered.
How did you select Django Stars as your solution provider?
Django Stars was recommended to us by a contact that’d previously worked with them. It’s a Swiss company. These guys had build and expanded a similar platform to ours, so their recommendation was very influential. There was a shared history with some of the technical people in the company who were behind the same startup, too.
Could you provide a general cost estimate for this project?
On a monthly basis, we have some full-time developers working for us, which works out to about $6,000 to $7,000 per month.
We have a dedicated team working for us. It’s not like we gave them a project and told them to execute during six months, and then we’re done. Instead, we have an ongoing platform development program. We’re always improving and enhancing the system.
How long have maintained an ongoing relationship with Django Stars?
We’ve been working with them since January of 2014. I personally started working with them in May, really intensively. We did have another partner that was originally in the picture, but we’ve been working pretty much exclusively with Django Stars since June.
In terms of results, could you share any statistics, metrics, or user feedback that would demonstrate the quality of their performance?
We’re not quite at the stage where we’re worried too much about metrics. Right now, we’re more concerned with results. The feedback that we’ve received is that the platform works and fulfills its intended purpose. I can’t really say anything better than that. From my own personal feeling, as the person driving this development, we’ve been able to set up a very effective development process.
We’ve managed to upgrade Django from 1.2 to 1.5. We’ve migrated database content from MySQL to Postgres. We’ve been able to refactor the code base significantly; we actually just finished that this week. We’ve been able to do a lot of low-level engineering, not necessarily related to the end-user experience. This means that we can move forward in the future with much more flexibility. We’ve been successfully able to launch three different client websites. Our ability to launch those three websites in a short period of time has been a large achievement.
In retrospect, are there areas in which you think Django Stars could improve as a service provider?
I think that communication with an outsourcing team is always a challenge, especially if there’s a differential language aspect. Initially, we had a different development partner that wasn’t fulfilling their obligations and, in retrospect, I would have kicked out the other development partner a lot earlier, and started working full-time with Django Stars much sooner. I could have saved some time and frustration had we made that move.
I’ve found that the communication can always be improved, especially with remote teams. I think that I probably would have started to try to get a grip on that communication problem earlier. Also, the organizational problem with having a second development partner was not optimal, but that’s not something that is a fault or problem due to Django Stars.