Written for the fifth issue of IT ID Lviv Magazine
The fruitful cooperation of Anton Skrypnyk and Yuriy Gnatyuk, co-founders of KindGeek, emerged from their long-lasting friendship. More than 10 years ago, driven by the mutual ambition and goal, they stepped on the entrepreneurial path. It was a rocky road of invaluable experience and difficult decisions that polished their vision and strengthened their perseverance. KindGeek is the freshest result of their refined partnership. At this point, the company has finished 85 projects, helped entrepreneurs from 20 different countries to make their ideas a valuable reality, and accumulated a cozy team of 100+ all the way passionate individuals.
We remember the first steps with little startups that entrusted us with their ideas and helped us to grow while we helped them. These projects obtained required investments as well as thousands of users, and KindGeek received invaluable experience. Startups exist in a dynamic and dense environment, where the slightest details may make the biggest difference while the tiniest mistakes may deal the largest damage to a client’s project as well as to a software company. Therefore, working with a startup is taking responsibility for one’s plans and ambitions and being ready to receive some damage. In a case, if a client is completely satisfied with the process and end-result, a company receives a loyal partner.
At KindGeek, the idea “your clients are your partners” is as relevant as ever as we act as co-authors of the projects we develop. As a full-cycle product development company, we help our customers to make their idea a reality.
To share our experience, we will provide some of our professional highlights that appeared to be a rewarding symbiosis with a client.
Bringing Technical Service Home
“Hello, I want to develop an Uber-style application. Please contact me.”
This is the message from a client that marked the start of one of the most successful KindGeek projects and proved that the shortest propositions may contain the biggest value. At that time, the project had a name CellSavers.
The client’s idea was one of the kinds that make you wonder why has not anybody implemented it yet. The project not only targeted an existing and relevant market need but also had a significant potential. The customer wanted to create an application that would allow users who have their cell phones broken to request a repair so a technician can take an order and arrive at a client's home to perform a repair. So, with the help of the app, clients would not have to leave their homes, wasting time to get to the repair center and burden themselves with redundant social interaction in order to get their devices repaired. As follows, an Uber-like application for cell phone repairs appeared to be a very accurate description of the project. We immediately realized the possible potential of the project in the era when the fragility is an inherent feature of a mobile device.
As far as CellSavers was a startup, it was highly dependent on investments. Therefore, KindGeek’s responsibility was not limited only to the technical implementation of the project. We had to do everything possible so CellSavers appealed to investors. On one hand, when you demonstrate your product to future clients, you have to prove to them that they need an application because it addresses their need in a convenient manner. On the other hand, when you showcase your product to investors, you have to prove that it will be profitable. In order to do this, you have to demonstrate why people will use it, how you will capitalize on the project, and what are its prospects for future progress and evolution.
In order to accomplish this, we had to create a working presentation demo for investors quickly and help the client to make an informative and appealing presentation of CellSavers. Without a shadow of irony, the latter one is particularly important for winning investors. When the time of first funding round approached, we were as emotionally attached to the occurring events as if the future of our company depended on it. Luckily our efforts were not in vain, and the first round resulted in $3 million of investments. One could only imagine that feeling of relief our developers responsible for the demo experienced after they had been informed about the successful round. However, it was only the beginning. The successful round meant that the project would start developing more intensively, and KindGeek should be able to keep up with the rhythm.
The next obvious step was to target a broader audience by including repair of other devices into CellSavers. It also would allow demonstrating investors the growing potential of the project. Tablets were first in line. The next 6 months were spent making a working product out of the demo, polishing its design, and ensuring that everything is robust and bug-free. The second round appeared to be an even bigger success with a total $15 million of investments. Afterward, it was decided that tablets and cell phones repairs are not enough, and the technicians could also mount TVs and install smart home systems, so KindGeek still had a lot of work to do. The main highlight of the project happened 1 year later during the third round of investments. The third round resulted in $50 million and contract with Samsung and Sequoia. Since then, the CellSavers ceased to exist, and the new brand, Puls, emerged. Currently, Puls works in 38 US cities and continues to grow.
Contributing to the UK Freelance Market
Tom Cape from London was working on a building project. At one point, Tom realized that they lack some people who could wheelbarrow concrete for several days - not the easiest but simple task that does not require particular experience or special knowledge. However, Tom was not able to find locals who would fill in the gap anytime soon, which was not a tragedy but still significantly slowed down the work. At that time, his current partner, Richard Knight, was experiencing a similar problem. The two men realized that such an issue would not even exist if there was an application for finding and hiring free contractors because, in a case of a sudden necessity, the word-to-mouth method of finding temporary employees is not that effective. As you may guess, Tom and Richard chose KindGeek to create such an application, which was named Grafter.
In the UK freelance market experiences constant growth. For instance, self-employment in the country increased by more than 20% since the year 2008. Moreover, in the UK, it is a prevalent practice to hire temporary employees with the help of specialized agencies. However, the service provided by these agencies is expensive while the process of finding and hiring people may take up to several days. Therefore, the only thing left was to use this possibility, creating an app that would manage all the process of an employee engagement, including booking with cashless transactions, without inconvenient intermediaries.
KindGeek created the first working version of Grafter with which The Founders of Grafter started a crowdfunding campaign. The initial goal of £150 thousand was exceeded by £80 thousand, which was important not only because of the amount of money but because a lot of people expressed their desire to have such an app. Afterward, KindGeek started working on enhancing UX design and preparing the project to the approaching funding round
The so-called gig economy slowly conquers a significant chunk of the global market, and the possibility to contribute to this chunk is quite a valuable one. Luckily, Tom and Richard found our background and expertise enough to entrust KindGeek with their idea.
Helping to Bring Social Back
Social Networks still can evolve, and founder of Hive Social, Brett Knutson, proves it. Hive helps users to find people nearby who share their interests and hobbies. Users join communities they enjoy and can adjust their newsfeed to display posts from people from those communities who live not far away from them. As a result, this social network encourages people to meet in real life, emphasizing the meaning behind the word “social.” Brett started Hive because of his disabled mother who got stuck at home, so was not able to make new friends. Later, Brett realized that a lot of people also struggle to find real-life friends, which gave the impulse for creating Hive Social.
This particular example differs from the previous ones because, at first, Hive Social was a tiny campus application due to a small budget, and KindGeek was not the first company to work on the network. Another team was developing mobile application before. However, that team appeared to be unreliable. Brett Knutson, Hive’s owner, stated, “we had a lot of problems with the team and we were looking for a better solution.” Nonetheless, the work done by the previous team was far from perfect, to say the least, so we started developing new Hive iOS and Android applications from the very scratch. While we handled development, Hive’s founder was focused on the business and marketing aspects of the startup, searching investors and promoting the social network.
Currently, Hive Social has more than 50,000 users, and new marketing campaigns are being conducted to attract an audience while KindGeek continues to polish the product. However, it is also worth mentioning that attracting new users to the social network is not the easiest task due to the extreme saturation of the niche.
A Small Note About Huge German Project
Meanwhile, Dominik Dresel from Germany nourished the idea that would make a professional life of German-speaking teachers more convenient and productive. Dominik decided to create a unique online platform for teachers where they could exchange, buy, and sell learning materials that they create. A good and extensive learning material is hours and hours of thorough work, so the possibility to earn some money for the materials that you put a lot of effort into is an amazing opportunity. This project received a not so easily digestible for non-German speakers name Lehrermarktplatz, which, basically, means teacher’s marketplace.
KindGeek started working on this project two years ago in a collaboration with a talented Ukrainian technology geek and entrepreneur Aleksey Kolupaev, who is CTO at Lehrermarktplatz, and who worked as CTO at MeinFernBus (now FlixBus), a successful German low-cost bus travel provider. Currently, the project is a fully operational website with 37 thousands items of learning materials, including videos, posters, presentations, tests, and worksheets, that the German-speaking teachers can buy to enhance their classroom performance and implement new practices that will appeal to their students. Lehrermarktplatz helps to diversify education, so makes it more appealing to students as well as to teachers, saving them time and boosting their creativity.
At this point, KindGeek is also building own products based on our ideas or internal R&D. In particular, YouCapital, a UK platform for finding investors, that KindGeek co-owns, as well as LvivLand, a nonprofit social project that is intended to promote our city and demonstrate its beauty and business potential.
There is a tremendous amount of work behind each project we have created, and the writing can only outline the essentials of what KindGeek does. However, these 4 examples demonstrate how working with all this diversity helps our company to be the part of the big world, making it a little more convenient place to live.