Sortlist is a web application that helps companies find the right agency for communication/marketing projects. Following rapid growth, the team asked Belighted to help position them to deal with increasing demands from users and improve the product’s quality.
- Belighted implemented software development best practices such as continuous integration to improve quality
- Our training increased productivity of the startup’s internal development team by 20%
Background: The Sortlist Story
The Sortlist app provides leads to marketing agencies, matching them with businesses that need their services. Agencies pay a per-lead fee. A monthly lead subscription system is also in the works. The app is mainly serving Belgium and France but is quickly expanding.
The app has been in operation since March 2014 and is now a team of 10 people (four partners and six employees). The product team is composed of the CTO, a lead designer and two software engineers. External partners provide assistance for SEO, content marketing, development, and email.
“Belighted helped us implement app improvements quickly. Working together has also improved our team's performance, increasing efficiency by 20%”
Charles De Groote, CTO of Sortlist
Challenge: Improve App Quality Efficiently
In the six months that let up to working with Belighted, traffic to the app had increased by 500%. Improvements to the product were necessary so it could handle the increased demand as more projects were being submitted.
Sortlist realised that more visitors and clients meant increased insights and demands for product improvements. But there were only three developers on the team, and they were relatively inexperienced.
The Sortlist product team helps the company achieve growth goals by:
- Optimising SEO to increase traffic and turnover as a result
- Automating processes to increasing project capacity without requiring new hires for the operations team
The company needed additional development resources to continue successfully with the app.
The dilemma: do all the app improvements themselves or outsource it.
If they did it all themselves …
- It would take a lot of time, a luxury most startups don’t have
- Their inexperience would likely lead to many mistakes
Anyone they brought in would need to have experience not only on technical matters but also in the startup world: an understanding of how small teams can use agile and lean methodologies, and experience solving similar challenges for startups.
Sortlist had never outsourced development work to an agency.
Instead, they hired junior people. But training took up half of the CTO’s time, which distracted from his strategic focus. Upwork provided limited success for small tasks, but quality was sometimes an issue.
“Hiring Belighted meant I could use my time for strategic purposes rather than training new staff or managing projects by freelancers. Having their talent immediately available to our team saved us a considerable amount of time as we implemented app improvements.”
Charles De Groote, CTO of Sortlist
Hiring a Development Agency
As the Sortlist team considered outsourcing to a development agency, they looked for three important factors:
- High level of experience with similar projects for startups.
- Solid reputation with good social proof and strong references.
- Minimal communication risk: they were reluctant to hire nearshore companies, because of difficulties caused by small cultural differences.
Sortlist had heard of Belighted, as we are well-known in the Belgian startup ecosystem. We came highly recommended by previous customers.
The onboarding was efficient. The Belighted developer only took a few days to learn the existing code. He set up a continuous integration server which allowed him to understand the architecture and also the business side of the application.
This required much less time from the CTO than managing junior hires or Upwork projects.
During the collaboration, Belighted contributed its experience with startups and small organizations to help Sortlist make quick and smart product decisions.
Results: Improved App, Better Team Performance
Belighted increased the internal development team’s productivity approximately 20%, providing training in best practices.
To improve the app quality, we implemented a continuous integration system and developed a robust automated test suite. We refactored a lot of code and added specific features on the agency side of the platform. This allowed for a better matchmaking algorithm, increasing turnover.
Sortlist is now positioned for further growth of users with more efficient team performance.