It is said that all great things begin small, and that is what happened with Reelo too. A small app designed by two entrepreneurs to provide a seamless shopping experience to their friends and relatives is today a major phenomenon on the app store with more than a million end customers in India.
It all started with an idea way back in 2017. SoluteLabs was then a growing team of developers, who were building apps and digital solutions. We had expertise in building small apps, and we were looking for a challenge that would put us on the map as a trusted web and mobile app development company.
At the same time, the founders of Reelo, Parin Sanghvi and Prit Sanghvi were testing waters with an MVP, an idea for an app, and were rapidly adding users to their network.
This was when fate stepped in. During one of SoluteLab’s other projects, a designer we worked with, Vibhor Shariff, mentioned in passing note that there were two partners who had built an app and were now looking for a team of developers to improve it.
This chance remark turned into a meeting, and Karan Shah and Prakash Donga, the founders of SoluteLabs, decided to meet the people at Reelo at Venture Cafe in Ahmedabad, a hotspot for startups in the area.
This is where we learned what Reelo wanted, and an idea started to emerge.
Reelo was envisioned to be a loyalty app, which helps you set up and run your own digital rewards program. The aim was to create a large pool of happy, returning customers.
The founders at Reelo had initially put in a lot of effort to get the app up and running. Since they had limited programming knowledge, they asked one of their friends from the local community to build the app for them.
Getting the first few users was the easy part. Parin and Prit asked their friends and relatives to sign up and then asked them to contact others. Since the idea of a loyalty app was new in Ahmedabad, the app caught many people’s fancy, and the user count soon crossed 25,000 users.
But the app could not keep up with the scale at which it was growing, and businesses soon started complaining about how painful it was to use the app. The app was built on PHP, and there were less than a hundred businesses signed up to use the app.
Since Reelo is both a B2B product from a business’s perspective and a B2C product from a customer’s perspective, it was the need of the hour to build an app that would satisfy both. And this had to be fast.
When the team at SoluteLabs heard Reelo’s problem statement, there was only one feeling across all the team members.
Here was a chance to build something that was gaining users, was local, and hence supported the “vocal for local” movement, was technically challenging because of the sheer scale of users.
So we quickly split the team into Mobile and Web and started working on the product using Agile methodology.
We chose React for Front End, Ruby on Rails for back-end, and a dedicated developer for Swift and Android.
To top it all off, we had a QA whose job was to make sure the app performs flawlessly.
We called the founders of Reelo on-board, and in mid-2018, we started developing the app while dealing with the sheer scale of new users being added every day.
This is where things get a little bit difficult. Or, in our words, “ A little bit interesting.”
The original Reelo app was written in PHP. There was a lot of raw, unorganized data that required cleaning up.
About 5-6 % of the data was unusable, and SoluteLabs had to find a way to clearly develop this data source. Since the app was growing at the pace of a rocket, there were frequent server outages, which impacted the overall user experience.
The Reelo modules required many campaigns to be run concurrently, and the current architecture was just not up to the task.
We resolved the migration issues through carefully written scripts, and our team spent countless nights re-engineering the entire product.
We at SoluteLabs love a challenge, and we split the Reelo challenge into sprints of 2 weeks.
Every two weeks, all of our developers and QA had a meeting with Parin and Prit from the Reelo team, where we iterated the screens and walked them through the app.
Speed, Security, and Scalability were our top concern when we decided to build the app. Ruby on Rails (ROR) was used to do product engineering.
Close to 1.5 million records from the old system were migrated by our team securely.
The mobile team also kicked into high gear, and we used Kotlin to build the native Android app and Swift to create the iOS app. These apps look simple but have complex back-end operations.
Within a year, the team at Reelo and SoluteLabs now worked like a well-oiled machine, and the app and the desktop version went live.
The results were impressive, to say the least.
Today, there are more than a million Reelo customers across India, and the app has crossed the 50K mark in downloads on the Play Store.
We caught up with Parin from Reelo, who had this to say about the SoluteLabs team.
“When SoluteLabs and Reelo came together, we were both young companies, and we were both hungry to conquer the world. Initially, when we began the Agile cycle, we had our apprehensions since the SoluteLabs team was so young.
But with their agile methodology, SoluteLabs took complete ownership of the product, and our bi-weekly meeting turned more like a conversation between friends.
We are super happy with the way SoluteLabs has treated Reelo so far and are still working with them to make Reelo the No.1 loyalty app in the country. “
The Reelo team gave SoluteLabs stellar recommendations, and today, we work with a host of big names, including a shipping conglomerate and a leading publishing company.
We learned a lot while we built the Reelo app, on integrating third-party SMS services to our own app, the importance of localization when creating something that is used by a large number of people, and delivering stellar user experience even when the design is not up to the mark.
We are now working on a new architecture for the Reelo app and doing cutting-edge work for a few other companies.
Watch this space for more SoluteLabs’ success stories.
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