When it comes to app development, every project is totally unique. Some have an easy-paced and straightforward development path (those are rare ones). Other have a bunch of changes here and there. Flipdish is an excellent example of how a project can change in its core even after the app has been released. Yet still, become an incredibly successful product at the end of the day. It was the type of project that kept us on our toes throughout all the five years of collaboration and, in the end, it was so totally worth it!
Appuchino takes meticulous care of every aspect of app design and development. Alexey is unusual in that he has both an in-depth technical knowledge of large-project software development and also an artistic eye and aptitude for design.
- Conor & James McCarthy, Co-Founders @ Flipdish
In case you didn’t know about Flipdish up until now, it is Ireland’s leading online ordering system for cafés, restaurants and grocery businesses. It wasn’t that well known about 6 years ago when we met with Flipdish co-founders Conor and James McCarthy for the first time.
Appuchino had been helping Flipdish with their mobile app for over 5 years (2015-2020), after which we handed it over to the newly assembled in-house development team. The work included development and ongoing support of the multiple apps on both iOS and Android.
Rolling Up The Sleeves
The project start was rather intense. On our first meeting, Conor provided a general description of the idea, the overall vision and some wireframes. We have worked together to understand the product strategy and business requirements. Then we wrote down business and technical requirements and estimated project time and cost — all in a matter of days you can count on just one hand! Shortly after, contracts were signed, and the design and development teams stepped in.
Initially, the app was planned as a restaurant aggregator, where users can order food from a wide range of restaurants. Quite similar to another very well known food ordering service advertised by Snoop Dogg.
We worked together with the customer’s in-house team, who was building the backend part of the product. We also helped the client with various aspects of the API design. And at the same time, our designers started to work on the look and feel of the app.
Unlike most of MVPs, the first version of Flipdish turned out to be highly functional. It contained a large number of features that included:
- Lists of restaurants for delivery and collection;
- Complex menus with compound dishes and custom pizza orders;
- Comprehensive searches for restaurants and specific meals;
- Re-orders in just two taps of a finger;
- Save and display on the map of previous delivery addresses;
- Marketing features, such as push notifications, promo codes and much more.
And that’s not to mention lots of boring but fundamental under-the-hood solutions that made the app work so well.
At that point, the app was released. We observed how both types of users, restaurants and their customers, use the app. Flipdish team started to get lots of feedback and insights that helped us iterate and improve.
It turned out restaurants wanted to connect directly with their customers. That was possible only via having their own app & web ordering system. Restaurants wanted their own branded apps with their logos right there on the customers’ home screens. They wanted to send customers push notifications and promotions. To have their own vouchers and loyalty system and so on.
This feedback was an eye-opener.
A few months into the development, the core product strategy was completely re-worked.
In With The Changes
The change of the business model meant that we now had to build dozens of apps from a single code base. We immediately got our heads down to crack the challenge.
That’s right. I said “dozens”. At that time, we couldn’t even imagine that thousands of restaurants will eventually use the app.
The new app had a remote configuration system, allowing certain app features to be turned on and off remotely. We separated the app styling into configuration files which allowed Flipdish to build hundreds of different looking apps with a minimum effort.
Only at that point, we started working on the first version of the Android app. The decision to space iOS and Android versions out in time was the best that was ever made, as we didn’t have to rebuild both platforms now. We learned a lot during the first part of the product development. We were taking that experience into Android development. It greatly reduced the overall development time and costs and accelerated Android app delivery.
Hint: If you can launch your second platform later - do that. You’ll make mistakes and learn a lot about the product while building your first app. As a result, overall development time and costs will be significantly lower.
After the app relaunch, Flipdish team started to broaden the feature set, and we delivered many significant features, such as:
- A centralized application localization system;
- Pre-order functions;
- Geo-fencing for restaurant delivery areas;
- Restaurant table bookings;
- A complete overhaul of page displays with optimization, and much more.
The new functions greatly expanded the app’s functionality while maintaining its simplicity. That made it possible for Flipdish to compete on even grounds with other rather advanced market players. That’s when Flipdish’s popularity really took off!
I was very impressed with how fast and efficient Conor and James could adjust the Flipdish business model and transform yet another food ordering aggregator into a full-scale white-label solution for restaurants and take-aways.
- Alexey Rashevskiy, Founder @ Appuchino
The app attracted more and more clients, and within a short period of time, Flipdish became Ireland’s leading food ordering app. Flipdish has attracted significant investments (€40M in the last round) to further fuel its exponential growth. The product is now being used by over 3,500 restaurants worldwide, and the company has grown from just 2 employees to over 150.
Here in Appuchino, we have been excited and proud to be part of Flipdish’s journey, and we can’t wait to see what future holds for them.