“Testing 1, 2 , oh damn I crashed it again.”
Building an app is never a straight path… So much can go right and wrong – all in the same working day. Over the last 3 months we’ve been working hard at our Squirrel app with help from our friends at Hall & Co Digital.
Through the development season we’ve learnt so much across the large scope of designing, construction, managing and implementing an app to the Apple store. Working as an intentional tight-knit team we were able to move fast and be nimble to the ever-changing MVP. We found that using a good agile workflow and combined with regular communication between leaders kept us on track.
I sat down with Michael Hall (our project manager and founder of Hall & Co Digital) and asked him a few questions about the journey of the last few months…
Michael, what were your first thoughts after we approached you with the idea to build Squirrel. Had you ever developed an app before at this scale, and in such a small time frame?
My first thought? ‘This sounds like an exciting idea and something we could do!’. Regarding scale, we always build with the concept of scale but generally only action scaling when things start to get stressed so planning from the start to support a large number of users is not something we had done before. Thankfully there are so many resources available now that are easily accessible and affordable to use for scaling. Gone are the days of spending months planning hardware purchases and configurations. Startups have never had it easier.
The timeframe was always going to be a challenge but the best thing any developer can do is be honest up front about timeframes and workload so the management team doesn’t have unrealistic expectations. We don’t always get it right but we tried to be as realistic as possible and in the end, from our point of view we achieved much more than we expected.
How did your team adapt throughout the process. How did you manage the change and increasing workload?
I think any decent developer has the ability to continually learn on the job and thats what we always try to do. I would say it would be hard to keep a job if you didn’t. As usual we managed the workload with an unhealthy amount of energy drinks and coffee! ha but seriously, in any project the only way to get through it is to break it down into manageable chunks. We started at the top; looking at a large feature set but once we broke these down into sprints and had the overall system design in place it was just a matter of chipping away at it consistently.
What were the most challenging aspects of building Squirrel?
Time, it has to be time. Given enough budget (time/money/resource) we can build nearly anything but trying to deliver so many features in a small timeframe was really challenging. I suppose the other challenging part was working through parts of the app and realising we needed extra services like a ‘read only web app’ site for sharing content and an admin tool all required before launch, we had to react quickly and put together tools the business could use to effectively manage content.
Developing an app is a crazy process with many steps to take. What’s your advice taken from this project to give to other entrepreneurs out there about to go on this journey? What would you want them to know before they start?
- Don’t be afraid of new technology, hug it and just start very small and simple. It is way too easy to get overwhelmed at the choice of tech available and your ideas list but start simple and iterate. The worst case is you might fail but so what? you will regret not trying more than trying, failing and learning from it.
- Be really really super amazingly Agile. Agile Development suits startups for a reason, you will get a better product if you build usable software, release early and release often, market validate the product and keep in mind users will give honest feedback get your app in front of unbiased eyes.
- Whatever platform you pick read the terms and play by the rules, this applies primarily to Apple, nothing worse then finishing a build to realise Apple will never accept it!
Thank-you to Michael, Joel, Nhi and the team for working tirelessly and around the clock to bring Squirrel to life. Your brought our bucket list to life!
Have you tried Squirrel yet? Download the app here and start turning YOUR bucket lists into reality! Want to be in the know for future updates and releases? Sign up for our Squirrel email list to get updates on all thats happening here at HQ!