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Denis P., Alpina Digital: Interview

Denis P., Alpina Digital, Deputy CEO, Digital & Print Publishing
What is the objective of the project with Redmadrobot?
We are a leading publisher of business books in Russia; we have been publishing business titles and best sellers from all over the world, translating them into The Russian language. Initially, we had all our print runs on paper, then probably like five years ago, we decided to go digital and so we launched the digital branch of our publishing holding which is called Alpina Digital which is specifically for digital book production and distribution. Three years ago we decided to launch an app on the app store and thus we were looking for a right development partner that can help us realize our needs.
What is the scope of the project?
Redmadrobot helped us with the mobile application development. We wanted the digital distribution of books in our catalogue in Russian because based on our stats we found that the audience in the app store is the most relevant audience who likes to read the books in digital format. We worked with another company prior to Redmadrobot which was from Belarus and they launched the first version of the app; generally, it worked well but the quality of the design and code were not sufficient for us, so we were looking for other opportunities and finally we decided to go with Redmadrobot two years back. We launched the iOS version of the application first and then Android followed after a year or so.
What was the estimated time frame committed for the completion of the project?
I don’t remember exactly since it was quite a long time back. The project started in summer 2013 and the first version was launched in the fall the same year. The committed time was I guess about four months.
Were there any delays from Redmadrobot's side in meeting the committed deadline?
I would say that each company expects their project to be launched sooner. There were no big delays but some minor delays did happen but it didn’t have any impact on our launch plan, a two-week delay is almost nothing compared to the kind of work they did for us.
Please provide an approximate figure (in $) for the work done?
I cannot talk about the budget because we have entered into a kind of agreement, but then they provided us three programmers; one for the backend, one for the frontend, and one for designing, but Redmadrobot didn’t charge us extra for the programmers.
Did they exceed the committed price point and why?
I cannot recall of any exceeding budget problem that occurred. We had a firm agreement with them, and the two-week delay I mentioned was managed by Redmadrobot without any extra charge on us.
How did you come to know about Redmadrobot?
Actually, our CEO somehow got connected with them during his early experience so it was his choice.
Why did you choose to partner with them?
We chose them because they offered this type of cooperation, it’s not a fully commercial project for them but they offered a lower cost option for later income from sales, which was a good scheme that we agreed on.
Did Redmadrobot evaluate your project scope and requirements correctly?
Yes. Our expectations were met very nicely; the design was superb and the programming was also done perfectly that resulted in very high conversions in our sales.
Did the company deliver as per your expectations?
The project they implemented showed very good results, so this development project resulted in long-term cooperation; we are now partners in digital projects.
Are you satisfied with the sales and customer support service?
I am very satisfied very happy.
What is the one thing that makes them stand out compared to other companies (core Strengths)?
Their designs were amazing; thus, for me, the one thing that makes them stand out is the design that they made for our customers that made the customers buy ebooks.
According to you, is there any area that you think they can improve upon?
There were some minor communication problems during development so we worked together towards the progress and all those issues were successfully overcome. Every other customer would want to have an insight on what is happening in the development and be able to see the status at any given time, they were almost good at that but not very perfect.
Did they offer proactive consultative approach? (Technical advice, design changes etc.)
Yes, a lot of that was offered by them because they are the experts and we are like rookies; we didn’t know a lot about how things function, what our customers would appreciate since we are from paper book publishing background, so we didn’t know much about apps and ebook distribution. We had a vision but they used to correct our vision and said what would work and what wouldn’t. We listened to them and their ideas were very helpful.