The developed product is a cloud-based SaaS that
allows vendors who sell their software by subscription
to launch automated partner programs quickly and easily. This
means that they can create fully customizable white-labeled portals
for their partners (resellers) to register and sell
subscriptions, earning rebate for each sold item. At the same
time, vendors can see all the statistics on sales and key
indicators in real time.
The main customers are SaaS products offered based on the subscription model.
The product was developed for a US customer; the first release took place in March 2016. This project was developed by a team of six people: developers, a UI/UX designer, and a QA engineer.
The development began with a business analysis and functional UI prototype design and production.
Vendors can set various levels of partners, having determined a discount rate for each of them, which is the actual earning of the reseller. In addition, vendors indicate the type of settlements: instant or against end-of-month invoices. In case of instant payments, the partner needs to add a bank card to his account. Upon a subscription sale, its price, after deducing the discount, is paid from the partner’s bank card immediately. In case of payment against end-of-month invoices, all sales accumulate and a single invoice is issued at the end of the month.
The portal’s appearance is also customizable. Vendors can customize anything: the colors and format of texts, buttons, banners, and logos.
Partners are notified via email upon occurrence of certain events associated with them, for example, changes of their level or the list of available rates. Vendors can set the format of any such letters using embedded variables.
They can access any required information in real time, build reports and statistical sampling using their personal profile. All the basic information is displayed on a simple dashboard, which shows a summary of the current state of affairs.
Partners register on portals created by vendors.
If the partner’s level only allows instant settlements, such partner needs to add his bank card to the account first.
The main functionality of a reseller is the end-user subscription management. Resellers can register new subscriptions, update or cancel them, earning rebates with each sold item. In addition, resellers can see all financial indicators for different periods, the total income, regular income, etc. in real time.
At the moment, the product functions successfully, has paying customers, and is supported by our team.
Since 2004 I co-found and manage
numerous cloud-based software companies, primarily in the B2B
At some point back in early 2016, I was on a fruitless hunt for a software or service to solve my company’s business needs. Since nothing of that nature was to be found, I quickly recognized an opportunity to create a new niche product from scratch. My hypothesis was based on the assumption that there might be some other potential customers out there with similar processes that may also be interested. So not only I can get my own needs solved, but potentially benefit from the crowdsourced wisdom brought by other users.
I didn’t have detailed product requirements at that time. I expected to start the project to iterate and improve it based on the feedback collected from initial customers. My goal was to create a minimum viable version of the online service, test its product/market fit and generate some initial revenue stream to fund future development.
One major roadblock for creating starting this project was a lack of time and resources. I work with a reasonably large team of in-house developers. However, this team was already busy working on the core products and services. Any potential distraction for the existing team had a chance of potentially causing a loss of revenue more significant than possible profit from the new venture. Especially, when you are not sure, there will be revenue.
So I thought that this might be the perfect case for contracting an outsourced development company. With this in mind, I designed a process to find a team that would be most suitable.
If you are reading this, you probably know that a market for an outsourced development is very competitive. Once you start searching, you immediately get dozens, if not hundreds of bids. Your email is bombarded by cold outreach companies and scouts.
At the same time, it is very difficult to differentiate one team from another, because of the surface they all look alike with a similar description and promises. To compensate my lack of technical documentation for the future software product, I had to start my search defining clear criteria for the perfect team that would be able to work in such conditions.
Those criteria were:
Availability. I’m located in Texas and don’t mind working with remote teams. I want to make sure we can communicate at some point during the day. The speed of reaction is also crucial. As much as a consistancy.
Agility. As I already mentioned, I didn’t have precise blueprints for the future product. So the process had to be agile and allow changes of requirements on the fly.
Ability to cover all aspects of the product development: design, management, development, QA, testing, and support. I was ready to contract an outsource team. But I was not prepared to manage multiple levels of outsourced teams in several time zones.
I had to split my search and selection process into two several steps:
1. Email questionary. Trying to identify experience building similar products from scratch. After that stage, I had about 40 bids left.
2. Skype video interview with a team lead. I wanted to see an office with real people communicating and working together in the same space. You may be surprised to learn how many companies that claim to be huge in fact are a one-man army working from high school during breaks. After that stage, I had four bids left.
3. Most importantly, the last stage was a detailed exchange with a company founder, CEO or manager on the project details. I was trying to get as much transparency as possible regarding cost, hourly rates, time estimations, the experience of the particular team members, etc.
The whole process took me about a month. However, I do not regret, because as a result we’ve signed a contract with Antida and the whole project was very seamless. It still is.
At this time our product is up and running for about a year. Antida’s team is still involved in day-to-day operations and support and acts and feels like a part reof our team.