By Nikita M.
We’re happy to present our interview with Jan from AppyBee. Jan is our client who has a history of coming to us, then parting with us, and then coming back. What didn’t Jan like about Fora Soft the first time, why did he decide to return, and what is he thinking about our collaboration now? Read the interview to find out.
Hi Jan, tell us about AppyBee.
It’s an online reservation system. with which we can literally book anything. An online event, a project, group session, or person. On top of that, it’s not only booking. Communicate with clients, send push notifications, messages. Pay by bundles or smart subscriptions.
We, as a B2B company, deliver website widgets and a native app.
We’re currently focused on the sports business. We have many types of businesses, such as co-working spaces, dog-walking services, and solariums.
By sports, did you mean pro sports, like football or basketball or gyms?
Both. The main thing is personal trainers, but one can also book a yoga class, a traditional gym, where you can pay a monthly fee to train. We also provide a solution for the current, corona-affected times. If you can’t buy a subscription, you just pay for a visit. Many types of business models, yeah.
Was Fora Soft your 1st choice?
We started with Fora 6 years ago. We weren’t really experienced back then. We had an idea. We worked with Fora Soft for a couple years and wanted to develop an MVP, and that’s what we went with. The problem is, we went with it for too long, instead of moving on. Fora Soft should’ve advised us to change, but they didn’t do that. And, as I said, we were inexperienced. So things were messy, so we decided to leave Fora Soft. We weren’t happy with them.
We then tried all kinds of solutions. Outstaffing people, freelancers, other agencies, a combination of those. In the end, it was a disaster. We have a saying where I’m originally from: “I had it, I didn’t know. I knew it, I didn’t have it anymore”.
Everything has to fit. It’s not enough to have 1 good developer, 1 good project manager. Everything has to work together: QA, design… We burned a lot of money on it.
During that time there was some info we needed from Fora Soft. What I felt is “oh crap, I need to ask them something but we’re not working anymore..”. But I got all I needed instantly, they helped us a lot.
Then we decided to go back. There was one guy there, a PM who was always there. He gave us confidence that they have it under control.
We changed technology from Bootstrap to React. React.JS, React.Native, PWA (Progressive Web Apps). So, I asked the PM if they can handle it, and he said yeah. And then he explained everything. It felt like it was a Friday evening after a hard week. You sit out there and you have that vodka.
«I should have returned to Fora Soft much earlier. Fora Soft has everything under control. Everything under one roof. It all works perfectly.»
So the story is like a boyfriend and a girlfriend. At first, it doesn’t work out, but then you end up married.
By the way, the reason I worked with an agency is that I just wanted them to solve my problems and handle the answer in the correct and professional way. So, in another company, we worked with 5 different developers within 3 months. There also was a case where we changed a huge architectural part, which was a major update. It was really buggy and slow. In fact, thinking back I’m realizing that it was OK, but back then I didn’t.
In Fora Soft we worked with the same team all the time. For me, it’s a sign that people are happy with the company. They like what they’re doing. You guys grew from 30 people to 90 people (editor’s note: it’s 110 people now 🙂 ). So, before it was a mess. You could say that we had a relationship, it didn’t work out, but then eventually it did. Now we’re back together for 5-6 months, but if I’m being honest, we should’ve done this much earlier. The breakup had to happen, but here we are.
Compare before and after working with Fora Soft. Before the first time we worked together, even.
In the beginning, there was some technology, and we didn’t know what the usual way was. What we noticed in the beginning, we had a Trello board. It’s nice, but it’s like this (shows a pack of sticky papers), like moving this around. Then we moved to another company. They taught us that with Jira we can do this, with that we can do that. They overdid it. I felt like I was wasting hours on all that. That was the main difference. I wanted to go back, I was never unhappy with the PM. He’s the good guy, he was also there to help. It’s one of the reasons I went back. He gave me confidence.
Now it’s the same project, which is important. I also got more people who’re helping me. I get to talk with the business analyst, with the designer, with the front-end, and the back-end. It’s a complete solution.
«The advantage of Fora Soft is that the team’s communication system is really good.»
You talk to each other within teams. It’s difficult to have an agency, an out-staffer, a freelancer. It works, but not efficiently. So here we are with the comparison.
Can you share any measurable figures, such as a number of crushes, clients, or revenue?
The revenue is difficult because another large part is the marketing, and the development cannot change that.
However, what we do notice is the amount of money we paid to Fora Soft, let’s say, amount X. I don’t wanna name numbers now. I see it now: I pay half and I get double. I got much more value. but not only the value. It’s also the stability. You have confidence. Right now all the things that are not efficient are being solved. I get information back. So I have a confident feeling now. I sleep well now. What I’m saying is, I don’t know it’s not only the measurable things, but I sleep well.
I’m going to tell you about one situation that happened at the previous company. They did work for us. They had one guy that also was working for us from that agency full-time. I asked him questions, but I didn’t get any information back. So we were doing tasks and ping each other within Jira. We had a daily meeting, and I was asking: why aren’t you reacting to any questions we’re asking in Jira? He said, ‘ I turned off the notifications’.
We’re paying a lot of money, it’s full-time, we’re with 5-6 people in a daily meeting and he gives an answer like that. I can tell you one thing. If he said that at the table, I think it would finish differently. You should be happy that it was online and with distance. So with software you cannot just move. It’s not another jacket you could buy. It’s not possible. So you really need to think about which company you are gonna work with and it needs to be a match. You also need to understand a company. The company needs to understand our culture, but we also need to understand the company’s culture and that needs to be a match. That’s really important. The expectations. And what I also noticed is that you have different projects. On one hand, you have short term projects, maybe 1-2 months. Easily done. But you also have work such as what we do. These are long-term projects. Important structural things that one needs to understand and move forward step by step. Test it thoroughly, think about what the clients have, move the priorities, and do some mind exchange, like what we’re doing with the business analyst right now. This was also a big difference. Back then you guys didn’t have that. Fora Soft didn’t have any business analyst that I talked to. But now I get to talk with the assistant project manager. We discuss everything. From time to time when I have an idea. I don’t share it. I want you to let me see what they’re gonna come up with.
«A lot of times, I get a solution from you guys which is better than mine. That’s a good thing.»
Sometimes you have the feeling that it doesn’t go fast enough. Those are the important things. And as a company you can’t only point fingers. There’s a lot of things that we can also do better on communication. I also asked the question: what can we do better as an organization? How would you want us to deliver the information? Are we happy with it? Do we need to do something more? This is also important to have a good match. You cannot only say that this needs to be done and then finish. You really need to give correct information so they really understand what you want.
Were there any difficulties while working with Fora Soft, aside from that MVP thing?
The difficulties of working with Fora Soft. What I find difficult, but that’s not only connected to Fora Soft, is that I would like to, meet the team once a month. I’m looking for a situation how I can do that. So just sit down 1 day, 2 days, once a month, maybe once in 3 months to do a structural visit. To sit down with the guys face to face, to see who’s who. And then maybe pop up some ideas, have a board, talk, drink vodka and see what comes out. The difficulty is that you’re always behind the screen and talking. So that’s on the one hand, on the other hand, I cannot think about any difficulties.
Qualities and things such as communication, professionalism, and determination are very important when it comes to any type of project work. Can you maybe rate us on a scale of 10 on those qualities and add something else that you see important here?
– What I would see as the quality, and I can really say that, because I had a lot of companies in between. I had three or four agencies, freelancers, and outstaffing people I worked with. I even had, not gonna name names, really had to fly in the “experts” to have a problem solved, which cost in the meantime. So I can definitely say it’s a 9 on communication. In the beginning, I didn’t understand why you guys don’t want me to talk immediately with the developer. I do communicate but mostly need to go to the project manager. Back then I didn’t see it. Right now I absolutely see the advantages. because he will arrange everything. I talk with him daily, and he will divide the work, and it’s efficient. It’s perfectly efficient. He’s always aware of everything that happens, good or bad. And that’s the communication which makes stuff more efficient.
Would you recommend Fora Soft to your friends or colleagues who are interested in a video application?
I would recommend Fora Soft to friends, family, and colleagues. I would not recommend Fora Soft to my competition.
That’s a good one, a good one. Thank you.
I think we have a contract also on that, right? So no competition. I wouldn’t recommend you guys to my competition but I do recommend to my business, my associates, and everybody else.
Maybe anything else that you would like to add?
– No, no, actually not. As I said, seeing the team, that would maybe change, to have a drink from time to time, advice from Fora Soft. I would also expect we’re gonna organize a specific day for all the clients and whatnot it would be nice to go. And Mr Sapunov brings a big bottle of vodka, some special Russian vodka I’m dying to drink. Other than that I’m all good.
Thank you very much. My sincerest thanks for your time. It was a pleasant experience talking to you, and I will see you later.