Expand your business with Placeme.

From MVP barebones to a commercial SaaS business analytics platform case study

Placeme
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Status

2017

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ONGOING

Scope

FRONTEND

BACKEND

DEVOPS


Tech stack

react python aws docker

Overview

Placeme is a powerful analytics tool aimed for medium and large enterprises to empower decision-making processes by:

Gaining comprehensive knowledge about the best location for the business and potential competitors.

Learning consumer habits to better anticipate supply and demand in specified areas.

Predicting the estimated income and costs a company can expect in a given location.

Defining target groups in various regions to evaluate sales potential.

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Story

Building MVP and the first startup contest.

The idea of Placeme was born in late 2016, when founder Hubert Guzera came up with a concept of building a web-based tool that would enhance the cumbersome corporate process of evaluating business locations.

Being a professional data scientist with a decent programming background, Guzera was able to build an experimental API with location evaluation output. In February 2017, we teamed up (hint: referral) to complete the proof of concept by building the frontend layer of a web dashboard for the API.

We were developing the MVP through late April 2017 to get ready for the first significant event—Placeme had qualified as one of the top three startups at European Startup Days in Katowice. The aftermath of ESD 2017 turned out to be a major milestone, as the first corporate clients (ING) started to take note of the young Data-as-a-Service startup, which eventually propelled the team to being headhunted by three VC funds from Portugal: Bright Pixel, LC Ventures, and Red Angels. By the end of December 2017, the first official third-party commitment was signed, including pre-seed investment and an acceleration program funded by the Portuguese trio.

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The tailwinds of 2018

Thanks to such a prolific end of the year, Placeme began 2018 not only with bold plans but also with the adequate resources to continue the pursuit of building a world-class SaaS product.

Since January, Placeme and Altalogy have been working together full-time. Months of working in a feedback loop with potential clients and users, conducting multiple UX/UI features experiments, and testing implementations with real-world data led to the development of new products, signed enterprise-level agreements, and the first foreign market endeavors.

Currently, Placeme is a widely used SaaS tool across enterprises such as Dino, Medicover, ING and Carrefour

Challenges

Organizational alignment

Both Altalogy and Placeme have been growing, so we had to figure out how to properly onboard new employees and bridge the communication gap between the data science team and our development team. We were able to navigate this transition with ease, and overall communication between all parties increased.

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Building a robust data warehouse

Although Altalogy was not directly involved in this challenge, it's worth mentioning the complex process of collecting data from multiple sources and wrangling them to achieve interpretable output. The Placeme data science team did a tremendous job to reduce the time required to complete web request for big chunks of data. The implemented solution performs better by orders of magnitude compared to other existing solutions.

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Flexible development process

To learn about user needs and iterate quickly, we were tasked multiple times to develop experimental features outside of the initial product roadmap. Fortunately, due to excellent communication on Slack, Appear.in, and regular in-house meetings, we were able to keep up with the fast pace of changes. It’s important to note that the initial tech stack selection played a significant role, as React’s style of reusable components empowered our Agile approach.

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Project fork

While searching for product market fit, the Placeme team decided to develop two products in tandem—one for major corporate clients and the other for small and medium enterprises. We were tasked to split the app and implement different branding and features across each version. Our initial architecture decisions gave us the comfort of being well-prepared for such a pivot in the MVP stage. Later, the decision was made to merge all versions and create custom subscription models.

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Ready to scale

Although initially our responsibilities were limited to frontend development, we gradually became more involved in the backend development in order to prepare a production-ready application that could handle more traffic. Migrating the monolithic application into microservices architecture seemed to be the obvious choice. Our team had decided to use the battle-tested AWS as a service provider and set services like DynamoDB, API Gateway, Lambda and Cognito, which allowed us to implement user authentication and database management in a robust and scalable manner.

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Custom subscription plans

As most Placeme clients required a slightly different set of features that fit their needs, it became clear that custom plans for each user was the right way to go. Placeme administrators would have the ability to manually create a subscription plan, grant access to certain features, and quickly toggle them on and off. The final decision was to integrate Stripe and Chargebee services to deliver an excellent user experience and allow the Placeme team to select features that were set individually for each client.

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Altalogy work as part of our team, not just a vendor. They pay attention to my needs and are always eager to help. I like the way they process my requests. I recommend being open to their suggestions because their technical and business expertise helps them give valuable feedback.

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Altalogy work as part of our team, not just a vendor. They pay attention to my needs and are always eager to help. I like the way they process my requests. I recommend being open to their suggestions because their technical and business expertise helps them give valuable feedback.