How a UK-based Startup Used an Extended Team In Ukraine To Attract £1M In Funding - Evolve

How a UK-based Startup Used an Extended Team In Ukraine To Attract £1M In Funding

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Our partner company’s software product has just been shortlisted as a finalist for Network Computing Awards 2020 in two categories: The Return on Investment Award and One to Watch Company. We’re happy to have contributed to this success by building and hosting a client-tailored Extended Team in our Ukraine-based R&D Centre and guiding them through their distributed software development journey.

To tell you more about how e-bate used and are using their Evolve-hosted Team in Kyiv, we’ve talked to Duncan Burns, our former employee who also acted as a Senior Product Owner at the start of our collaboration with e-bate.

Background

Duncan Burns, Customer Success Manager, e-bate

e-bate is the world’s first SaaS-based Rebate Management Platform that allows decision-makers to gain control of their rebate management quickly. This ultimate rebate management solution disrupts how businesses manage contracts, as well as transact, reconcile and analyse customers and suppliers to maximise margins.

Please describe your company and your position there.

“At the time of starting the development, I was the Product Owner/Senior Business Analyst. Now when we have successfully launched our platform, I am responsible for running Customer Success and I still work very closely with our COO, Product Manager and Development Team. I am ultimately responsible for ensuring our customers are onboarded successfully and are getting a quick Return on Investment.”

Challenge

“e-bate was struggling to hire qualified software development talent locally in the UK so we decided to expand our search beyond it. Besides talent shortage issues, we were completely dissatisfied with the quality of many local developers who were legacy-bound, stuck behind just one stack and were inflexible when it came to career advancement and learning new technologies. To prevent our development project from getting stymied, we started exploring different outsourcing destinations.”

Why did you eventually select Evolve as your Extended Team provider?

“I had previous experience of working with Evolve who had used several 3rd parties in India, Armenia and Ukraine to build their own products. I worked directly with Colette Wyatt, Evolve’s CTO, in selecting and working with those 3rd parties, but we had mixed experiences.

In 2017, before I left Evolve, they’d started working with Pug-IT in Ukraine, eventually merging the two businesses and creating their own R&D centre. My experience of working with the developers in Ukraine was excellent, they were highly intelligent, able to handle the complexity around rebates, were open to ask questions and share ideas. So I had no concerns with using Evolve for this project.

We particularly liked the fact that Evolve had an R&D centre in Ukraine because of several reasons.

First, it’s pretty close to the UK and is only 2 hours ahead, i.e., we could manage our Ukrainian Extended Team more easily than if it were set up in Asia or South America. Second, Ukraine has a huge tech talent pool (currently assessed at over 190,000) and it’d be a shame not to tap into it. Third, despite the Soviet past, Ukrainians have a Western mentality, a good business understanding and pretty good English language skills.

How e-bate used an extended team in Ukraine to build an award winning rebates management platform and attract 1million British pounds in funding.
How e-bate works

We also liked the fact they were based in the UK just like us and I knew them very well. What makes Evolve different from other Ukraine-based team extension solutions providers is that they only keep teams of highly qualified developers and testers in Ukraine, while keeping DevOps and all business data in the UK and securing any engagement with a UK contract. We also liked how we were treated by Evolve: they were more than just a team provider; they consulted and guided us on our outsourcing journey.

Whilst previously working at Evolve, we had successfully built several bespoke rebate management platforms and I knew some of the team members were still working them. We needed a team that understood rebates, and that would be able to develop a scalable, multi-tenanted SaaS platform. We knew some of the team at Evolve had the rebate knowledge, but we would also need to augment the team with additional dedicated resources such as a Solutions Architect, UX/UI expertise, Scrum Master.

We also needed resources within the EU and Evolve agreed and was able to source two .Net developers in Malaga, Spain and provide CTO-as-a-Service (Colette Wyatt), DevOps and Azure Stack resources from the UK.”

Solution

Our goal was to build a highly scalable, flexible SaaS-based platform that would give the end-customer the ability to configure the platform to meet their needs without additional development being required.

Please describe the project in detail.

Evolve built e-bate’s Extended Team in January 2018. Initially, we had to build the MVP fast to test the product’s viability and attract additional funding to “go to market”. This was achieved within just 8 months. Given the complexity of our rebates management solution, it was super fast.

In September 2018, we won our first major customer and completed the first implementation within 16 weeks. Our first enterprise customer went live in January 2019. In June 2019, e-bate secured  £950K from Mercia Asset Management, the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, and £50K private investors.

During the outsourcing engagement, I was only responsible for defining requirements, everything else was provided by the team at Evolve. This included Strategy, Architecture, Planning, UX/UI Design, Product Development, DevOps, Security. I was responsible for working closely with all team members, created mock-ups, user stories, attended design workshops, planning sessions, daily stand-ups, retrospectives and was very much part of the team.

As mentioned above, Evolve provided CTO-as-a-Service, Solution Architect, .NET Developers in both Kyiv, Ukraine and Malaga, Spain, QA’s, Scrum Master and DevOps. Since e-bate received funding, the development team has moved to us permanently and the Solution Architect, QA, Scrum Master and DevOps are still provided by Evolve as an Extended Team. Colette Wyatt (Evolve’s CTO) and Philippe Peron (Evolve’s CDO) worked closely with us to have a successful transition and they keep working with us to ensure that when we need it we can scale fast to meet demand.

distributed development team structure

To facilitate communication within a distributed team, we agreed on a set of common tools we were all familiar with. These included: Github and VSTS, JIRA Atlassian and Confluence, Hipchat, Slack and now MS Teams.”

Results

“We have successfully gained traction in the market, won some significant large customers, gained investment and are now scaling up to meet the demand. Stakeholders are really impressed with our speed to execute.

Most competing products take 18 to 24 months to implement, we can implement in less than 16 weeks.

End-user feedback is really positive with many comments in particular of how we’ve taken the complex and made it simple making their lives easier.

The insight we gain from Evolve’s CTO and the rest of the team is incredible, they seem to always know what is needed before we’ve even finished the question. They work in a truly collaborative way, not afraid to challenge our ideas or admit they don’t know something. e-bate and rebates, in particular, are quite specialist, the algorithms and calculations complex, but when the team is not sure – they share screens, we walk through the code and we figure it out together. What more can you ask for?

The biggest lesson we have learnt is that once you have gone live with a product you really need a dedicated team to handle bugs/anomalies if you still have a roadmap to deliver!

From a cost-saving perspective, our Spain-based resources cost us about 20% cheaper than in the UK. While the salaries are not very high, the social security tax would inflate the total cost of resources. The total cost of our Ukraine-based talent is about 30% lower than in the UK, but the quality is hardly comparable!”

The Network Computing Awards voting is now live and will close on 24th March. Please support e-bate with your votes!

Are you looking to build your own Extended Team overseas just like e-bate? Request our callback to learn more about Evolve and how we can help!

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