MINDGRAM - From idea to product through MVP
- Web Application Development
In parallel to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is also a silent one – a vast increase in mental issues throughout the locked-down society. And so Mindgram teamed up with Tooploox to provide support in these hard times – in an innovative form of an employee benefits app.
According to the WHO, a pandemic is a situation where not only a particular disease is a threat. The fear, uncertainty and overwhelming sense of danger looming from behind every corner is equally damaging. With normal social interactions cut off and children and adults locked in their homes, mental problems have been on the rise.
The scale of the epidemic can be illustrated by the KFF data – 11% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression disorders between January and June of 2019. And that percentage has risen to 41.1% by January of 2020 alone.
This difficult and unpredictable environment requires new ways to tackle the rising issues. Hence the inception of Mindgram, founded by Małgorzata Ohme, a renowned Polish mental health expert, and tech veterans Jakub Zieliński and Adam Płona.
The trio came up with the idea of building a platform that delivers psychological well-being and support services in a digital format. The company would later deliver the platform in a B2B model, where companies provide access to their employees as a benefit, comparable to private healthcare or a retirement plan.
The platform had to include the availability of live sessions with therapists, psychologists, and coaches, access to webinars about well-being and self-development, and a platform enabling expert-user communication, among much more. With an exciting idea and a clear vision, the team turned to Tooploox to help shape these into a viable market product.
The idea was priceless in itself, yet it still needed to be transformed into a usable product to conquer the world. The Mindgram founders were looking for a team that could:
The scope of the product, the industry and the overall app’s idea was a perfect match for Tooploox – it fit with our experience in health care systems, the tech stack we have and our mission to improve people’s lives through technology, all at once!
Starting a project from scratch requires a solid approach in order to preserve the inherent energy behind the vision and to forge good ideas into reality. Also, there is a significant difference between an “idea” and the feature itself, sometimes a crucial one.
That’s why the Tooploox team delivered a greater framework for the project. It consisted of:
This approach assured both parties that the product would fit the founders’ vision while maintaining cost and time efficiency in fitting the final product to the market.
The ideation phase
The whole workshop consisted of five meetings, where the client showed the Tooploox team the ideal flow for their customer, shared their customer stories and their core concepts. The founders had already designed the basics and Tooploox’s job was to dig deeper into the details. There were multiple questions to ask about the whole app, its flow, its processes, its goals, and the features to be delivered.
The next step was transforming the description of the app into a set of specific tasks for the coding team. Next, it was necessary to determine priorities and deliver estimations for time to delivery – through that, both the client and the Tooploox team were informed about the expected time of arrival of particular features and the expectations regarding the price and team performance.
Armed with a plan, the team delivered the Proof of Concept.
Building the PoC
The Proof of Concept phase was focused on experiments and extensive research over cost and effort effectiveness of the core functionalities. The Tooploox team was expected to test all possibilities, check the affordability and availability of solutions, and deliver the best performing sets.This phase was also meant to determine what was not performing well and to test even the strangest or unintuitive ideas.
With the experiments done throughout the PoC phase, the team has found the following:
The chat feature would be best built from scratch – contrary to the previous point, the chat had to be flexible and support numerous auxiliary features that were nearly impossible to find among pre-existing solutions. Also, the chat is a far less complicated feature to deliver than video conferencing, and thus, building our own was affordable.
In this particular case, Zoom was the most flexible and best-performing option when it comes to video conferencing solutions in app-building. Delivering a new solution would be too time and effort consuming, not to mention the plethora of existing solutions available on the market for an affordable price.
The PoC was delivered using the agile approach, where the client was actively involved in delivering the tasks. The work was done in weekly sprints, with clear outcomes and status meetings after each sprint.
The proof of concept phase ended with a clear success. The team proved that the app could be delivered and that it would perform well and generate value for its end-users. It also provided the team with information about approaches and technologies they could use to maximize the outcomes. Equipped with this knowledge, the Tooploox team was able to build the MVP.
Building an MVP
Delivering the Proof of Concept was also the moment where the client modified their initial plan to better fit the app to the ever clarifying expectations and the market demand. With clear feedback and close cooperation between both parties, the MVP was built according to the new circumstances with respect to the information and experiences gathered throughout the PoC phase.
The app was built using agile methodologies, with one-week sprints and regular update meetings with the Mindgram. Through these open lines of communication, the client was able to update the team on expected changes and new features to add or to remove.
As such, the MVP was the perfect way to go – the client has done several updates during the Tooploox team’s work, thus finding ways to adjust it. The agility of the process wouldn’t be so effective without splitting the delivery into the PoC and MVP phases
The MVP was delivered in under three months – perfectly on time, without delays, yet with the updated scope of features included. Following the initial agreement, the MVP was delivered in a way that would make the handover easy. Therefore only widely available and recognized technologies were used.
The back end
The back end was delivered using the Amazon Web Service’s #terraform functionality. The whole architecture is delivered by a text-based configuration file that can be easily modified, replicated or transferred. Also, in case of a need to modify the architecture, it can be done simply through a slight modification of the text-based configuration file.
The back end also used the PostgreSQL database and Python to make all the machinery beneath the surface run seamlessly. Also, both technologies are popular, so handing over the project was simple and smooth.
The front end
This project is a perfect example of delivering and handing the MVP over with a focus on transparency. If there is a project that needs to be developed and maintained further by the client’s internal team, it won’t be a problem.
Using popular technologies is a good idea when considering the availability of specialists to maintain the project further down the line.
This is also a great example of the agile approach – when using an existing solution was cheaper – we did so; when it made more sense to deliver something from scratch, that’s the course of action we chose.