Anomo is a particularly interesting client for Vinasource, in that it was founded by Vinasource client James Sun and Vinasource CTO Benjamin Liu, after successful collaboration on the Pirq project, which Vinasource helped develop. The two co-founders, during Vinasource’s work with Pirq, realized that they shared a similar vision of enabling people to find, connect, and engage with the people around them in a safe and efficient manner. They found that technology had enabled people to gain unprecedented knowledge of their surrounding, from restaurants to housing prices and gas stations, and yet people still knew nothing about the most important piece of their surroundings – the PEOPLE. And thus social discovery app Anomo was born!
Anomo began in 2012, utilizing a Vinasource development team consisting of a program manager, 2 iOS devs, 2 Android devs, a PHP dev, a QA Engineer, and a Mobile Architect. The team was rather large for a startup, but was necessitated by Anomo wanting to launch simultaneously on both iPhone and Android, as well as the need for backend web services development where most of the logic and processing was done. Total timeline from idea conception to beta launch was approximately 8 months of development time, including a UI redesign halfway through the project. The app was successfully launched in June 2013, and has attracted over 160,000 users and raised over $1.2M in funding to date, with local Seattle investors including John McCaw, Amit Mital, Scott Swerland, and Maveron.
From a product/technical standpoint, the app was quite complex/full-featured. Features included:
- Account Creation / Email based Login / Facebook Login
- User Profiles / Interests / Public Profile Page
- Check In module integrating with Google / Foursquare API to get Places Data
- User Content Creation (creating posts/uploading photos/etc)
- Two-way messaging / Group Chat
- Location Awareness
- Search / Sort by Location
- Invite Friends
- Content Sharing
- Push Notifications
- Gifting / In-app Purchases
- Flurry Analytics
- User / Content Search
- Admin System for managing app, content moderation, analytics, users, etc
The team also developed a responsive modern consumer targeted website located at http://www.anomo.com.
The Vinasource team particularly enjoyed this app in that they got to use and customize so many different features within iOS and Android. It was certainly a feature-rich app (almost too much so, and we looked to start simplifying the app in later iterations). The team also worked closely with Anomo stakeholders to analyze data – building, adding, and improving features in highly targeted iterations. In all, up to present day, the app has had over 20+ iterations and updates already, with each one built upon the learnings of the previous iteration. MVPs of new features were tested out in each iterations, with successful features rewarded with additional customization and unsuccessful features removed.
Probably the biggest learnings from the Anomo project was from being put in the shoes of a client. We learned first hand the challenges of being a startup, raising money, of evolving business requirements and pivots that lead to development changes, massive scaling, as well as the numerous non-development related challenges. In particular, we learned the value of iterative agile-based development to combat changing requirements and environments, as well as the importance of analytics, data-driven decisions, and “failing fast” so as to minimize cost and risk when releasing new features.