Software development is an expensive part of the journey of a startup. Speed of development can make the difference between getting off the ground or crashing and burning. The technology stack you build your app with plays a big role in that equation. Today we’ll offer up the non-technical startup founder’s guide to our preferred programming language and framework for the server side when building an app: Ruby on Rails (RoR).
For a startup, timing is everything. If you spend too long formulating your ideas, you run the risk that your competitors beat you to market - or worse, your idea becomes obsolete. Alternatively, if you spend too long developing your product before launching, you risk running out of money, and crippling your business right from the start. Fortunately, it's possible to speed up your SaaS product development process - and mitigate the risk of being outpaced by competitors - without burning through your cash reserves.
Consider this your cheat sheet for developing your startup.
So you want to know how much it will cost to develop your new SaaS app or software project. You’re hoping a seasoned developer can review your materials, talk it through with you, and then come up with a number.
We’ve built and worked with hundreds of different software products since 2008, when we first opened our doors. Over the years, that experience has resulted in a fine-tuned methodology to set our clients’ software products up for excellent performance. The way we work allows us to meet you where you are in the lifecycle of your product. You may have an idea that needs to be developed into a completely new product, or you may have an existing app needing improvement. Either way, we direct our efforts where they make the greatest impact for you. I’d like to show you a little more about how we do that here.
Developing your minimum viable product is a crucial first step on your startup journey. One of the most common challenges faced by non-technical founders is how to handle the development work, when they lack the technical skills themselves. One option is to outsource development of your MVP - but is this a good option for your startup?
Most SaaS app founders realize they must have a mobile counterpart to their web application, because users expect functionality on their phones.
To put together the front end of a web application, developers often start with an existing framework. React and Angular are the two most popular front-end frameworks available. Today we’ll talk a bit about each and which one we prefer. But first, let’s back up and clarify a few terms for the non-technical among us... What does “front end” mean? When we talk about front end, we’re talking about the parts of an app that users see and interact with. For example, when you book a place to stay on Airbnb, you are interacting with the front end of the app. The back end consists of things you don’t see but are required to make it work, like the server and databases. When developing the front end of a web or mobile app, your business will benefit from two disciplines: UI and UX. These work together closely, but the focus of each is different.
Have you heard of AARRR? How about GRRRRR? We don’t mean the 2004 French movie. We’re talking about our technology stack. It might feel like developers are speaking a different language when you discuss your new product or app. We’ve said it before: It’s not necessary to have a technical background as the founder of a software startup. But there are some basics you should understand. Technology stack, or “tech stack,” refers to the collection of programs, frameworks, and coding languages developers use. These function together like a stack of sieves transforming data at each floor. All the sieves are specialized to handle the kind of data they receive and provide another kind of data to the next layer. Hence the term “stack.” The technology behind your new product can impact critical short-term factors like speed to market and project cost, as well as long-term factors like your ability to scale and ease of maintenance. If you’re considering working with Belighted to build your new product, you’ll want to know our preferred technologies and why we chose them.
If you’re going to get something wrong, it’s better to find out fast. With market validation built into your product roadmap, you can find out where you’re wrong faster. And you will get plenty wrong. In three years, if you’re still around, your startup may look completely different from what you imagined. This post is the last of our three-part series demystifying startup failure. We talked first about the concept of speed in building your team. Then we dug into how focus can help you move faster. Today we’re going to look at the fundamental role market validation plays in speed.
In case you haven’t noticed, Belighted is growing. Over the last few months, we’ve added several new team members. Each brings skills that will enrich our work for our clients and allow us to do more of what we love: creating and developing software products that grow your business. Our team setup is integral to how we produce our exceptional work. We are able to drive real successes for our clients because we begin with strategy, move through design and development, and then come back again to strategy as needed. We are pleased to introduce our latest team additions to you here.
Most startup founders know speed is important. But speed in the wrong direction may be worse than going too slow when it comes to developing a new software product. Veteran startup CMO and former marketing head of Google play Patrick 'Mad' Mork tells how focusing on the wrong thing killed his startup: “When I was at GetJar in 2010, we had to rebuild a large part of the platform from scratch. We had grown too fast and had made a number of obvious mistakes when it came to scalability. We lost at least a full 12 months rebuilding our systems, when we should have been focusing on other changes that were happening [in] the market. That mistake, among others, eventually doomed the company (along with the $40M we had raised in VC funding).” In the first of this three-part series demystifying startup failure, I talked about the concept of speed when it comes to building your team. Today we’re going to dive into the concept of focus and how it relates to speed for a startup.
Last time we introduced the concept of speed in three critical areas: talent, focus, and market validation. Today we are going to dig into how your team can impact speed at your startup. You can have the best idea in the world and it will still fall flat if you don’t have the means to execute your idea fast. Because it’s your team that executes the plan, you need to incorporate speed into your team vision.
Where did they go wrong? What did they do right? Analysts have scrutinized hundreds of startups to identify the factors that lead to certain doom and those that will propel a startup to success. There is one common element across all the analyses of failed and successful startups that must be present for the founding team to succeed: speed. Achieving and managing speed - knowing when to brake and when to fly at full throttle - is a critical skill of successful startup founders. After working with dozens of startups and hundreds of software products ourselves, we see the key areas of talent, focus, and market validation as particularly important in driving speed.
If you’re building or growing a SaaS product, you likely know by now there are a lot of metrics you can use to measure how your business is doing. In fact, the sheer number of SaaS metrics can be overwhelming if you’re new to the software-as-a-service world. At Belighted, we discuss KPIs (key performance indicators) with clients in our scoping workshop. It’s one of the components of the Lean Canvas. And it’s an obsessive focus for many SaaS founders. Let’s step back together and look at the most important SaaS metrics for a minute.
When you set up your marketplace, you need to figure out how money is going to exchange hands. This usually involves funds moving between buyers and sellers with some amount to you for providing the platform, for a three-part transaction. The transferring of money is heavily regulated and can also be a source of friction for your marketplace users. You want to get the choice right from the start. The marketplace Listminut came to us wanting to speed up development, improve conversions and expand into France. Our work also involved changing from a payment gateway to a more marketplace-friendly payment processor. Stripe Connect provided a great solution.
Here at Belighted, we talk about software development a lot. However, coding is only a small portion of what needs to happen when you’re creating and launching a new SaaS or other software product. Recently we created a power checklist that walks you through 50 major checkpoints for developing, launching and growing a new app, tool or other software product.
Testing is an investment. Like investing in security of a software product, it’s sometimes a hard sell, because you don’t immediately see a return. There’s no tangible output, no new feature to wow users. However, there are several advantages to building testing into your product development that can pay off. The key is balance.
Every time you use Amazon, Gmail or Facebook, you are using the latest version. In fact, the software may have been updated 15 times that day already.
If you use React or React Native, you may have noticed your directory pathways sometimes look like this when you want to import something from another folder inside your components: import NavigationBar from '../../../components/ui/NavigationBar; Those ‘../../..’ are a nightmare to handle in your project and can be a real mess when you want to keep your project maintanable for everyone. In this article, we will explore a better way to handle folders inside React and React native applications.
You don’t need to have an IT background to create a new product or service that makes use of technology. But without a technical background, you may second guess your decisions or feel you are at a disadvantage. In our work as a software development agency, we help launch business ideas. We work with a lot of startups. Sometimes a technical leader is behind the new company, or they’ve already hired a CTO. But often the founder has no technical background -- just a great idea he or she wants to get off the ground. We have observed some differences between working with technical and non-technical startup founders over the years. Non-technical founders might be surprised to learn they actually have an advantage in some ways.
We love working with startups. But if you’ve ever pursued a software development project with the founder of a startup, you know they can make difficult clients. The stakes are high. The timeline is fast. They have everything invested into their idea. Of course we very much appreciate our larger clients. Bigger companies have stability, budgets and time on their side. We get to bring the innovation. It’s a comfortable partnership. So what is it that we love about working with startups?
The development of a new piece of software is a risky project, full of uncertainties. Requests for proposals (RFPs) are an attempt to limit these uncertainties. In an RFP, a business usually attempts to detail what they want and then asks several development agencies to say how much it will cost to produce. Sounds great, right? But if your company is considering a software development project to bring innovation to market, listen: Don’t do it. The RFP process is broken. Let me tell you why this process doesn’t work and what you can do instead. You’ll learn how to shave off costs and find the right partner for your critical projects quickly.
As a non-technical founder of a budding startup, it may feel like finding a CTO should be your top priority. You want to make the best choices about product development, but as you lack the technical knowledge yourself, it's natural to want someone on-board who's more knowledgeable in that area to guide those decisions. But while having a CTO is great in the long-term, do you really need one to launch your startup?
Hiring an app development company is an important decision: choose a bad-fit company, and you could put your startup at risk. App development companies will have different specialisms and varying levels of expertise, so before you commit to working with one, it's worth taking some time to assess the company objectively. Will they be good to work with over an extended period of time, and are you confident they'll do a good job on your project?
There are plenty of options available for non-technical founders looking to build a mobile app, even if you've never learned to code: hiring a CTO; hiring a mobile developer; outsourcing to a freelancer; or working with an agency that provides app development services. Today we're sharing the benefits of working with an app development service for developing your mobile app ideas.
Developing an MVP is a crucial first step in transforming your startup idea into a fully-fledged product. It enables you to test out your core assumptions - like whether your idea solves a problem people actually have. Done well, MVP development is a valuable source of insight and information that can fuel product and business development. Unfortunately, all too often we see startup founders make mistakes with their MVP which cripple their startup - right from the beginning. Today, we're sharing five common MVP development mistakes that we see time and again - so you don't make the same mistakes.
When you're working on an exciting new startup idea, it's easy to become hyper-focused on the sellable product; the polished mobile app or the gorgeous web platform. This is particularly common for non-technical founders, when building the product is perceived as their initial barrier to startup success. However, your product encompasses much more than just the sellable product: your entire startup business is your product, too. A Lean Canvas is a startup-oriented adaptation of the Business Model Canvas, designed to help businesses develop an actionable business plan. To help kick-start your startup, we're sharing six reasons why a Lean Canvas should be an essential part of your product development process.
Un de nos objectifs, toujours réaffirmé, est de suivre de près les évolutions technologiques, afin d’offrir à nos clients un service plus performant alliant productivité et flexibilité mais également afin de nourrir notre passion.
Introduction I have been working at Belighted for 2 years and 3 months now. It all started with an internship during my last year of studies. When I joined the team of 11 people, working remotely wasn't something really pushed forward, but after a year the possibility to work remotely one day per week was introduced. I took that opportunity to try it out. After a year, the experience was quite positive for the whole team, and so the managing team decided to remove the limit of one day a week of working remotely. Since then I'm used to work 3 days at home. I'll try to point out some tips, benefits and disadvantages about remote work.
Introduction Recently, one of our customers asked us to help them expand their market to a new country: France. Peek behind the scenes to see what we did and then check out the results in the case study for Listminut.
Introduction This blog post is the last of a series of 3 articles explaining how we write automatic tests for our Rails projects.
Introduction It's already the end of my internship at Belighted, last weeks passed amazingly quickly.
Introduction This blog post is the second of a series of 3 articles explaining how we write automatic tests for our Rails projects.
Introduction Day after day, Pravatar is growing. My work these days is more about details and refactoring than brand new features, yet it might be the most important part of a good SaaS project.
Introduction This is my second blog post about Pravatar and my third week among the Belighted team is already over, time flies so fast!
Introduction This series of blog posts will explain how we write automatic tests for our Rails projects. It will be split in 3 parts discussing the following topics :
Introduction Cette série de blogposts expliquera comment nous écrivons des tests automatiques pour nos projets Rails. Elle sera divisée en 3 parties, qui aborderont les sujets suivants :
Introduction Je m’appelle Samuel Monroe, j’ai 23 ans et je suis étudiant à l’EPHEC Louvain-la-Neuve.
Implementing multiple table inheritance in Rails Rails’ default —and actually only— way of representing model inheritance at the database level is called single table inheritance (STI for short). With this technique, the entire model hierarchy is stored in a single table, containing a column for every attribute that a model in the hierarchy possesses, plus an additional column to specify the actual type of the model. For example, let’s say we have the following models:
The feeling of smoothness given by an application is something that matters for users. Apple has perfectly understood this point and brings useful tools to ease the life of developers: multi-threading, Grand Central Dispatch, callbacks, delegates... These techniques are helpful to set up asynchronous processes and keep the main thread available for the interfaces and user interactions.
Ce que nous voulions Comme vous avez pu le constater, nous avons récemment lancé notre tout nouveau site web. En tant qu’agence de développement, le formulaire de contact est notre principal canal pour générer des leads. C’est pourquoi nous souhaitions qu’il soit le plus simple possible, afin que nos clients puissent nous contacter facilement.
The business need Lately one of our customer was struggling with a UX problem: their operational team used their web platform (powered by Rails) to manage a bunch of products, and they kept complaining about having to download every time the PDF file attached to each of these products only to have an overview of its content. Furthermore, they couldn't interact with the document (e.g. with things like annotations), which would provide a useful improvement to their process. After some time, our reflection lead to the idea of displaying the PDF directly within the web interface in order to meet our customer's expectations.
Sortlist est une plateforme web, visant à faciliter la recherche d’agences adaptées aux besoins spécifiques des entreprises, qui agit comme véritable « matchmaker ». Un système de connexion à Linkedin constitue l’une des originalités du service, permettant entre autre de jauger de la réputation et de la proximité d’une agence avec une entreprise.
Remember the first Belgian edition initiated in 2012 by Belighted ... Much has been accomplished by Rails Girls since its creation in 2010 in Helsinki. Enthusiasm is such that sessions now take place around the world: London, Miami, Chicago, Kyoto, Beijing, Sydney, Buenos Aires ...
We offer you this week the summary of our last Belighted dev chat room:
What we wanted As you may have noticed, we’ve recently launched our brand new website. And as a web development agency, the contact form is our primary channel for leads creation. We wanted to keep it as simple as possible to let our customers get in touch with us without any unnecessary hassle.
The law As described in the UE Directive n° 2009/136/CE, websites are required to obtain consent from visitors to store or retrieve any information from a computer or any other web-connected device, like a smartphone or tablet. More specifically, the legislation is targeting tracking cookies (excepted for some technical matters). Nevertheless the law leaves us in the dark about the implementation of this consent.
Some time ago one of our customers, for which we had already developed a highly specialized e-commerce/ERP, decided to add a new service to the one they were already offering. So they naturally asked us to extend the existing application with a whole new section covering their new business. However, the legacy code was build on top of Rails 3.0 and for various reasons1 it was if not impossible, at least highly impractical for us to upgrade to the most recent version (3.2 at the time). As we didn’t want to write this new part (which we knew would become larger and more complex than the original in the long run) on an already outdated framework, we decided to write a new, separated, Rails application.
An important part in the design of a project is usability and the user interface. A website works mostly thanks to its design, as well as an intelligently conceived interactivity that is in line with the target audience.
This article will be split in two distinct parts: the first will be more “theoretical” and will explain the main principles of Gulp and Grunt, as well as what I prefer to use; in the second, we will show you how to build a boilerplate for your project (in both way).
On a daily basis we build API in order to feed all our projects ( such as our hot new NomadSuite ) and in our way to face such difficulties, we rely on the good old JSON format.
Even if you’re kind enough to offer your hard work to the community (as a just reward for all the pretty gems we use every day), it quickly comes to your mind that some parts of your credentials need to be kept private (even for an open source project). These risks can be avoided by setting ENV variables (key/value) on your local environment and calling them in your code.
For a few months here at Belighted, we are all committed to release what could be a new breakthrough into the service related ERP world! We crafted it using such amazing tools as AngularJS and other trending ones!
Rubymine is a fantastic IDE that goes above and beyond in letting you keep and/or improve your existing workflows.
Visyos (Visualize your osteotomy) est une spin-off de l’Université Catholique de Louvain. La plateforme web du même nom assiste les chirurgiens orthopédistes dans la planification et la réalisation des ostéotomies, c’est-à-dire la section d’un os long, à des fins thérapeutiques ou plastiques.
Le Technology Fast50 est une élection annuelle de 50 entreprises technologiques établies au Benelux. Organisée par Deloitte depuis 2009, elle récompense l’entreprise qui, au cours des 5 dernières années, a connu la croissance de son chiffre d’affaires la plus rapide. Les entreprises candidates relèvent aussi bien du secteur privé que du secteur public et couvrent tous les segments du marché technologique.
Imagine that your application manages a store, and that you have a model that represents the number of items in stock for each product:
Some time ago, as we were facing a performance drop in one of our projects, the decision was made to cache some intensively used data pieces and thus improve the overall system read efficiency.
You have a bunch of Pdf documents and you want to concatenate them all into a resulting one, using the Prawn gem and this small piece of code, it’s now easily doable !
Petit retour sur la séance informative (1) très intéressante organisée ce mardi par la FeWEB à l’espace de co-working du CEI…
Today I wanted to try out Puma on a Heroku project. Works great, but I quickly realized my app wasn’t reporting to New Relic, which is kind of a bummer. Here’s a compilation of what I found to be working with the latest version, 1.6.2 at the time of writing.
Bien que présent depuis plus de 5 ans, le terme de Cloud Computing n’est entré que récemment dans le langage courant de l’entreprise, 2012 marquant radicalement un tournant dans son évolution. Et le concept ne devrait pas en rester là puisque, selon le bureau d’études Xerfi, le marché devrait connaître une croissance annuelle de 20 % entre 2013 et 2015.
It is quite usual in object-oriented programming to redefine the criteria of equivalence between two instances of a class. For example, let’s write a class representing a specific point in a three-dimensional space:
Bien que le phénomène ne soit pas neuf, il est difficile de connaître avec exactitude la proportion de travailleurs concernés par le téléworking. Précisons d’emblée que celui-ci, littéralement “travail à distance”, concerne le homeworking mais également de nouvelles formes de télétravail (NWOW – New World of Work): le travail partagé ou coworking et le travail en mode “nomade”, c’est-à-dire lors des déplacements.
Après des semaines de préparation, le premier RAILS GIRLS BRUSSELS (voir posts précédents) a finalement pris place ces 5 et 6 octobre dans les sympathiques infrastructures du BetaGroup Coworking. Les bonnes surprises furent au rendez-vous notamment en ce qui concerne les inscriptions à l’événement puisque les demandes ont largement dépassé nos espérances! A tel point que, malheureusement, nous avons dû refuser certaines participantes… Néanmoins, nous avons été très heureux de constater l’engouement suscité par le workshop et surtout l’intérêt de la communauté féminine belge pour le développement web!
You certainly have frequent inclusion of one or even more static pages in your projects ! In order to succeed in this task, you have several choices: either code it into pure html (meaning include the entire layout of your pages which require a lot of boring work) or even worst, you could create a resource and all the linked views.
Many organizations need Excel’s Worksheets. Therefore, it’s not surprising that you can find a bunch of gems that help you doing the job. For our last project, we choose axlsx because of our need of integrating charts in ours Workbooks, and other advanced features like styling cells.
Last week, I had to design a little json API. It had to be fast and furious. For that purpose, we made it with Sinatra.
As everybody know thanks to one of the first awesome Ryan Bates’ railscasts (see http://railscasts.com/episodes/17-habtm-checkboxes or the revised one http://railscasts.com/episodes/17-habtm-checkboxes-revised ), you can easily deal with many to many relations using check_box_tags.
Rails Girls est une initiative née en Finlande en 2010 sous l’impulsion de la start-up Kisko Lab et du réseau Future Female.
First and foremost, internationalizing an existing application is a tedious, repetitive task. So even though your customer may not need it as part of the first development, paying attention to this aspect is not only recommended, but often turns out to be quite necessary. This will avoid a lot of trouble for you in the long run!
Most Belighters, as probably most Rails developers, use TextMate (the most hardcore ones use Vim, of course). Yet some were seduced by RubyMine. Here is a small comparison of the two tools, which will hopefully help you understand our choice (although we are expecting some hate mail).
Base 2 representation of real numbers is to me an artifact of the time when every single bit and every single flop mattered, but I have to admit that with the memory and computing power we have today, I don’t understand why modern languages do not use base 10 representation by default.
We recently added a few functionality to the Ogone gateway of the popular active_merchant payment processing gem, and felt it was a good time to take it from the top and detail how you can use this service in your own Rails application.
If you sometimes need to attach many files to a rails model, we find on the web a lot of tutos with uploadify and so on. Here is a simple way to do it only with HTML5, paperclip and rails.
In order to start this comparison, let’s just explain the way of working of both gem.
This week, we released the new website for our web application called Monassoc.
TokBox is a free video calling / messaging platform which integrates with any website without any download involved. It proposes widgets to play/record videos and do live conversations with the user’s microphone and webcam, directly from the website itself.