“They were transparent in setting costs and giving feedback.”
Introduce your business and what you do there.
I’m the CEO of Secret Pacific Division. Our company wanted to launch a website for digital artists. We still don’t know if we’re going to work on other websites, but that’s basically our product. I’m in San Francisco, and a few people are working for me.
OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE
What challenge were you trying to address with Shakuro?
We needed ground-up development, including the whole design, software, UI, and logic. We knew that Shakuro had experience in building a similar platform. We had an idea but no infrastructure, and we hadn’t figured out the logic of how that interaction would happen. We found some competitor websites that looked similar to what we wanted. We needed an abstraction of all that, plus improvements. We brought Shakuro our vision, and they took over completely. We started with a broad idea and ended with the product.
What was the scope of their involvement?
I’m not a technical person, but I believe the site was built using Ruby on Rails. Shakuro also did some specific domain setups and other particulars. The project was split into frontend and backend. One person led the team on the backend, and we also were assigned someone for the design. I was only talking to a single person about the UI and our ideas, and that individual relayed information to the people who were implementing. Due to their experience with similar platforms, they also offered ideas. It was something they didn’t have a chance to do before, and it felt right. Also, the functionality is really vast. For example, we needed a set of images implemented, but it had to be simultaneous with, let’s say, 10 images in a row. We didn’t know how to do that, but Shakuro had an idea about uploading and tagging images, which they helped us develop and perfect. They found a way to propagate the same tag throughout all images and alter them. They also suggested and developed instant messaging within the website, which none of our competitors had at the time. Now, we have messages between profiles.
How did you come to work with Shakuro?
We found them by word-of-mouth after they developed a previous popular platform. We started developing our own because if that platform went away, the website would shut down. We knew that Shakuro was the original developer, so we reached out to them through the website and looked at their portfolio. Their previous experience definitely attracted us.
How much have you invested with Shakuro?
We’ve invested over $500,000.
What is the status of this engagement?
It’s kind of a blur because we had a rough start at the idea stage. I don’t remember the exact date or month, but I know it’s been going on for 1.5 years roughly. The project has wrapped up, and we’re in limbo at the moment. We will need more development and are still talking to them. It’s an open contract since we go back to them for fixes and changes. There’s currently no new development, but maintenance is still happening.
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
We like to keep our specific numbers private, but you can see the activity on the website by recent uploads, which happen every day. The growth rate was pretty stable while we were rolling out new features. We had to stop for other reasons, but as we were implementing more and more stuff, we had something like 1,000 users a month. We saw increases in commenting, liking, and uploading. Shakuro also helped us implement a support system, which they didn’t develop but tailored for us. It includes pop-up support on the right side of the screen. Once that was in place, we had a lot of user feedback coming in directly through that tool. We had users asking for certain features, and I’ve discussed these suggestions with Shakuro. Some of them have been implemented already, and others were minor changes in the UI.
How did Shakuro perform from a project management standpoint?
I would give them 100%. They took over the development completely after the idea stage. I had no problem with their management whatsoever. We had daily Skype calls where they showed me the progress, and I either approved it or sent it back.
What did you find most impressive about Shakuro?
I have a friend who is also working with them based on my recommendation, so I can speak about several projects. Their integrity is the most impressive trait. Often, when I had ideas that weren’t the best or that were expensive, they were upfront and told me which ideas would not be viable. They were transparent in setting costs and giving feedback. Not everyone is like that. A lot of developers will blindly follow your direction. I relied on their experience, as this was my first big user platform project. Their candor gave us considerable value.
Are there any areas Shakuro could improve?
If everything was cheaper, we’d all be happy, but I don’t think they’re the most expensive company. Rates depend on the market, and they can always go lower. I would prefer to have some people working in my office, but they did a good job in a remote capacity.
I’m happy overall.
They were actually ahead of schedule most of the time.
In the end, I was satisfied, which is all that matters.
Willing to refer
I’ve recommended them to a friend, and they have an ongoing project.
Willing to refer
Secret Pacific Division’s CGPLUS.COM is a social networking platform for professional digital artists. It is a place to share your latest work, tips and tricks, tools and network with friends, search for jobs and more. We focus on artists in the entertainment industry, illustrators and sequential artists (comics). If you use a computer to generate imagery for games, movies, visual effects, television, commercials you will feel right at home at cgplus.com. We also welcome students and amateur artists who are looking for inspiration and feedback. We recognize that traditional (analog) media, such as drawing, painting, sculpting are core components in the training and development of digital artists and we encourage users to post that work as well. We do have guidelines for content and unfortunately we do not allow photography as a category, since it is too broad and does not belong to the computer graphics domain.
Shakuro created a digital art web platform from the ground up, executing the entire design and logic, software development, and UX/UI. They now conduct fixes and changes in an open engagement.
As Shakuro introduced new features, user numbers grew steadily, and uploads, comments, and likes increased on the platform. The team’s integrity, extensive experience, and proactive project management continue to earn them top marks.