How to deliver an e-commerce platform MVP in just 6 weeks

With investor funding at stake, Takamol had to deliver a fully functional MVP of their e-commerce platform within a tight deadline. They needed to find a partner who can consult, develop and solve problems quickly. Boldare team hopped on board and brought to life an online marketplace that has a potential to revolutionise economy in MENA region.

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How to deliver an e-commerce platform MVP in just 6 weeks
Contributor Photo - Karolina Kołodziej

Karolina Kołodziej

Communications Manager

Executive Summary

When Takamol approached Boldare they had just six weeks to build an MVP of an e-commerce platform. The deadline had to be met in order to validate the idea with investors and secure funding for the full-scale product. Within three days, Boldare flew to Dubai for the project workshops, assembled a development team and started work on the product. Following that, the team delivered the product, on time, allowing Takamol to secure investment funding and build a full version of Tojjar, the eBay of the Middle East. Since then, the full web version of Tojjar and mobile app have been released. The platform has been further expanded by an Boldare development team, new functionalities being added with every sprint.

Client

Takamol Holding is a publicly-owned corporation connecting the public and private sectors in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In recent years, the Saudi government has been focusing on shifting its economy from petrol-based to other industries, with a strong focus on stimulating the digital economy. Takamol, as a government-owned company, is tasked with supporting and stimulating entrepreneurship, improving the business infrastructure and labour market in the region. Under its 9/10ths program the company offers a suite of digital products supporting employees, employers, individuals and jobseekers, SMES and the government.

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The investors were focused on delivering the highest possible ROI under strict timelines and thus they required Takamol to pitch their projects in a similar way to how startups pitch to venture capitals. The presentations required a live and fully functional MVP, a product roadmap for further development and a full business plan with KPIs for the project.

The Product

The product Takamol envisioned for its 9/10ths program was Tojjar, an e-commerce platform similar to eBay or Etsy but completely free of charge to buyers and sellers. This platform would enable small businesses and entrepreneurial individuals in the region to leave their brick and mortar locations and establish an online presence. Thanks to Tojjar they would be able to set up online stores, upload images and descriptions of their products, sell online and arrange delivery. Moreover, Tojjar would solve the current issues with online payments and delivery which create a major obstacle for small Saudi businesses wanting to use e-commerce platforms such as e-Bay or Etsy.

Problem: finding a team who can deliver the MVP in 6 weeks

Takamol had only six weeks from start to finish to deliver a working prototype of an e-commerce platform in order to secure full funding for the project. During the presentation, the prototype had to be fully functional and able to present the entire buyer and seller journeys as well as admin panel functionalities.

Takamol didn’t have an in-house development team for the job and no time to recruit one and still meet the tight deadline. They had bad prior experience with outsourcing, mostly due to the low quality of code delivered. Through the recommendation of Takamol’s Solution Architect the company decided to outsource in Poland due to the high number of skilled and well-trained developers.

They sent the project requirements to a number of software development companies and invited them to pitch in Dubai in less than a week. They had only two weeks to decide which partener they want to work with.

Takamol required a partner who could assemble a full self-organizing development team within days and deliver the working prototype on time. The date of the presentation for the investors was fixed and there was no room for delays.

Solution: Product Vision Workshop to limit the scope and a self-organising augmented team to deliver the app

Boldare responded to the enquiry on the same day and was ready to fly to Dubai to meet the Client within days from the initial contact. The Boldare team organized a product workshop with the Client in Dubai. During the workshop, the team together with the Client trimmed down the list of features leaving only the crucial ones for the MVP. This way the MVP could be delivered with the strict timeline. Both parties understood and agreed that refactoring will be needed if the product was to be developed into a full scalable app at a later stage. Although Takamol had never developed product in agile methodology before they were open to try. The client agreed to work in the Scrum framework, which ensured incremental delivery within weekly sprints.

While waiting for the connecting flight back to Poland, the Boldare team delivered the final estimates to Takamol and the client signed them off shortly after the plane touched down in Poland. Boldare was the only pitching team who agreed to deliver the product within six weeks.

We moved away from our previous developer and made the switch to Boldare. After this, our process improved tenfold. They have a much better process with proper scrum, code reviews, automated testing, and a higher engineering quality.

- Development Manager, 9/10ths Programme, Takamol

Back at HQ in Poland, Boldare had already assembled a self-organizing development team: two backend and two frontend developers, a designer, a Business Analyst and a Scrum Master.

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Team Meetings

Takamol’s Product Owner was well-prepared for the job: the backlog was well-defined, his product vision was clear and well communicated to the team, he was responsive and ready to answer the team’s questions and give feedback. The Product Owner trusted the Boldare team with technological decisions. The Boldare team had complete freedom to choose technologies and solutions for problems which occurred along the way - this significantly speeded up the process.

The initial designs were already prepared by Takamol and the team only had to implement them, which made the process quicker but Boldare team took them to the next level.

Our projects had a great boost in productivity once we enlisted a full-time designer to be a part of the development team.

- Development Manager, 9/10ths Programme, Takamol

The Boldare Team in Poland communicated with the Product Owner every day during daily scrum, but also via Slack, Basecamp and Jira. The Product Owner was quick and very responsive in giving feedback and answering the team’s questions.

At the end of every sprint, the Takamol and Boldare teams met for a review and planning meeting, held remotely via Google Meet. Weekly retrospective meetings allowed the team to quickly eliminate all obstacles and reach the high performance stage quickly.

"The e-commerce project had a very aggressive deployment timeline. We had six weeks to deliver a barebones MVP, and Boldare was the only vendor who was willing to meet that deadline. They were successful, delivering our initial feature-set after a six-week period."

- Development Manager, 9/10ths Programme, Takamol

Tojjar App Designs

Results: Secured funding for further development and a flourishing business

The prototype was delivered on time to the client within the scheduled deadline. The Client presented the prototype and secured funding for the project.

After securing the funding, Takamol has continued the development of the product with Boldare and successfully launched the product to the public.

In August of 2017, there were over 1300 businesses registered on the platform. Currently the platform offers products ranging from children’s toys, handcrafts, art, food, home decor, fashion to health and beauty. Tojjar is now available as a web and mobile app - both developed by Boldare.

The Boldare team is still working with the client on further development of Tojjar – the collaboration has continued for over two years now.