Dedicated development team for product scaling | Case Study

Dedicated development team

Grow app for continuous feedback

Dedicated development team

Grow app for continuous feedback

How Wise engineers became a core part of the tech team and helped with DevOps, infrastructure, and full-stack development.

dedicated app development team
Industry

SaaS
Location

USA
Time frame

Ongoing, since Sept 2021

Project Scope

Grow is an application that integrates with Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other collaboration tools to foster a culture of open and continuous feedback at work. Wise engineers helped restructure the database, handled DevOps and Infrastructure configurations, and automated payment processing. Collaboration between US and Ukrainian engineers led to a more stable, secure, and reliable application which improved user growth, engagement, and retention.

Technology stack

Web Development: Node.js, React

DevOps: Google Kubernetes (Autopilot), VPC Network Peering, Google Cloud databases, Google Cloud Storage, Puppeteer, CircleCI

Database: PostgreSQL, Redis

Integrations: Stripe, Mixpanel, Google Analytics, Sentry, Slack, HubSpot

Web development
Back-end development
Cloud engineering & DevOps
Payment system development

Background

Grow helps companies introduce a growth culture through fun, meaningful, and continuous feedback. Ryan Sydnor, CEO at Grow, says that empowering people to grow has always inspired him. As companies worldwide shifted to remote and hybrid work, Grow became a critical tool for businesses to prevent employees from burning out and disengaging.

Today, Grow is a rapidly growing startup used by 1K+ teams across 62 countries, including Atlassian, eBay, IBM, and Mastercard. Grow integrates with Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other communication tools so people can easily send and receive feedback from teammates. For managers, the app's reporting features help monitor feedback health and find opportunities to grow talents in-house.

A truly unique idea behind Grow is that it helps people tie their personal growth to the growth of our planet by planting real trees. When two colleagues share feedback with each other via Grow, a real tree is planted by Eden Projects. As a result, more than 200,000 trees have already been planted by teams using Grow.
Today, Grow is a rapidly growing startup used by 1K+ teams across 62 countries, including Atlassian, eBay, IBM, and Mastercard. Grow integrates with Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other communication tools so people can easily send and receive feedback from teammates. For managers, the app's reporting features help monitor feedback health and find opportunities to grow talents in-house.
A truly unique idea behind Grow is that it helps people tie their personal growth to the growth of our planet by planting real trees. When two colleagues share feedback with each other via Grow, a real tree is planted by Eden Projects. As a result, more than 200,000 trees have already been planted by teams using Grow.

Business & Tech Challenges

Before the collaboration with Wise Engineering started, the project was moving from the MVP development step to actual product development. The team brought the idea to the market ASAP to quickly validate it. During the next phase, they required engineering enhancements in terms of back-end, infrastructure, DevOps, and security to handle scaling in the enterprise.

01
On-disk noSQL database restricting growth

Saving their data on disk meant that Grow could not scale horizontally. To ensure further growth, the team needed to migrate to a dedicated, hosted database.
02
Downtimes influencing the UX

Without the DevOps model integrated, each deployment resulted in service downtime. With the expansion of the user base, this became a pressing problem.
03
Issues with technical scaling

The team needed assistance setting up and configuring app infrastructure that would ensure stable performance, minimize vulnerabilities, and allow the project to scale.
04
Manual payments processing

The Grow team was about to introduce three pricing plans – Starter, Pro, and Enterprise and required payment gateway integration and automation for processing online payments.

Wise team onboards the projectWise team onboards the projectWise team onboards the project

Wisers really quickly assimilated to our team, culture, and processes. Then they began enhancing it by letting their individual personalities shine!
Ryan Sydnor, CEO

Ryan contacted the Wise Engineering team as he already had a positive collaboration experience with Wise within another project. Ryan’s idea was to hire Wise engineers to become an integral part of the development team. There was no differentiation in scope for the US and Ukrainian teams. All engineers, management, marketing, and sales started to work together right from the start.

From the Wise side, the Grow engineering team was empowered by two full-stack developers. Also, the local Wise project manager helped to orchestrate the work efficiently. The workload management was done via Jira, and Slack was used as the main communication channel.


Apart from the deep tech expertise required, Ryan, and his team were very attentive during the culture-fit interviews. For them, it was critical that the people joining the project shared similar values, were ready to communicate openly and aimed to make an impact with the product they built.
Wisers really quickly assimilated to our team, culture, and processes. Then they began enhancing it by letting their individual personalities shine!
Ryan Sydnor, CEO
Apart from the deep tech expertise required, Ryan, and his team were very attentive during the culture-fit interviews. For them, it was critical that the people joining the project shared similar values, were ready to communicate openly and aimed to make an impact with the product they built.

Changing logic of app database


The on-disk database was one of the main challenges the Grow team faced on the way to a more scalable back-end. Using PostgreSQL, Wise engineers started to change how the Grow app structures, stores, and processes data. Developers performed query analysis, standardized the data model, and then migrated data to the updated database.


The app’s code was not ready for the new approach to data processing so this was a rather time-consuming process that required a lot of engineering effort. This phase lasted approximately four months. Now, the system can scale while ensuring data integrity. Overall, after this step, database management was significantly optimized.
The app’s code was not ready for the new approach to data processing so this was a rather time-consuming process that required a lot of engineering effort. This phase lasted approximately four months. Now, the system can scale while ensuring data integrity. Overall, after this step, database management was significantly optimized.
The Wise team helped us get products to market faster with the infrastructure to test our hypotheses, iterate, and scale.
Ryan Sydnor, CEO

Introducing DevOps methodology


This phase started with upgrading Kubernetes to Kubernetes Autopilot and connecting it to the new database. This helped scale the system, improve security, provide workload and cost optimization and resolved other issues with incorrect settings in the older Kubernetes version.


The main task behind all the DevOps initiatives was to set up CI/CD pipelines that would allow the engineering team to deploy changes to production without downtimes. Wise developers integrated VPC Peering which allowed them to get rid of proxies and the app to connect directly to Google Cloud. Wisers also helped set up service monitoring to ensure all the application parts were always available to customers and, in case of any incident, recovered automatically.
The main task behind all the DevOps initiatives was to set up CI/CD pipelines that would allow the engineering team to deploy changes to production without downtimes. Wise developers integrated VPC Peering which allowed them to get rid of proxies and the app to connect directly to Google Cloud. Wisers also helped set up service monitoring to ensure all the application parts were always available to customers and, in case of any incident, recovered automatically.
We improved our infrastructure dramatically. It became more reliable and scalable with no downtime. Now we deploy code multiple times a day!
Ryan Sydnor, CEO

Payments gateway integration


Before the dedicated development team joined the project, the Grow team had to handle all the payments manually, and this significantly increased the workload for the sales team. As the client base started to grow and the management team decided to introduce three pricing plans, the necessity to automate this process became strategic.


First of all, integration with Stripe was set up along with all the necessary configurations on the back end. On the front end, an interactive form was added. It calculated the price for a team and helped convert more website visitors into customers. Also, Wise engineers worked on the realization of automated recharges for Grow's clients.
First of all, integration with Stripe was set up along with all the necessary configurations on the back end. On the front end, an interactive form was added. It calculated the price for a team and helped convert more website visitors into customers. Also, Wise engineers worked on the realization of automated recharges for Grow's clients.

Grow’s Culture


When the two teams started the collaboration, they found a lot of common aspects they value both at work and in life. Growth, ownership, and open communication are all part of the value set that both Ukrainian and US teams cherish. By building their cooperation on shared ethics they managed to develop a truly unique work culture at the Grow project. The team loves using their own application to build trust, foster discussions, and take new features for a spin before releasing them more broadly.


There are multiple great initiatives that boost productivity and creativity at Grow. For example, Feedback Friday meetings where colleagues speak about topics outside work, share knowledge and get support from each other. Additionally, all teammates actively shape monthly planning and brainstorming sessions, can provide feedback on the project roadmap, and suggest improvements. For Wisers, who are proactive personalities, being able to initiate changes and make their own contributions is especially important.
There are multiple great initiatives that boost productivity and creativity at Grow. For example, Feedback Friday meetings where colleagues speak about topics outside work, share knowledge and get support from each other. Additionally, all teammates actively shape monthly planning and brainstorming sessions, can provide feedback on the project roadmap, and suggest improvements. For Wisers, who are proactive personalities, being able to initiate changes and make their own contributions is especially important.
Honestly, we were a little bit nervous about bringing in an agency because of what the impact might be on our culture. We've been blown away by how quickly the Wise team members began living and breathing our values – our newer employees now look up to Wise team members for how to conduct themselves at Grow!
Ryan Sydnor, CEO
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results

  • Helped the Grow team to reorganize the database and made the data model more effective.
  • Prepared the application for scaling while ensuring stability and security.
  • Developed Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery pipelines to speed up engineering processes.
  • Minimized downtime and allowed multiple deployments to production every day.

Insights for startups

The way the Grow team organizes the work on their product is very inspiring. Wise engineers who are part of the Grow project always share great ideas on how to streamline collaboration and keep creativity flowing. Here are some handy insights if you want to make a great product of your own.

Eat your own dog food

Eat your own dog food

Using their own product to share feedback and grow their own teams helps Ryan and his colleagues constantly improve app user experience and enhance the functionality that is truly important and delivers value.

Be mission-driven

Be mission-driven

Instead of focusing on growing a user base and finding the killer features, why not select an important mission that resonates with you and put in efforts to accomplish it. If this mission is worthwhile, like-minded people will support you eventually.

Focus on values

Focus on values

When selecting people to join the project, Grow management considers culture-fit aspects and shared values to the same extent as professional expertise. This slows down the hiring process but makes it more mindful and totally pays out in the long run.

Delegate complex engineering

Delegate complex engineering

For the Grow team, hiring a dedicated team was a smart decision that helped the management focus on product development, while the outsourcing tech team took care of the extensive tasks that required lots of engineering effort.

Communicate proactively

Communicate proactively

At Grow, everyone can initiate improvements to the product, culture, workflows, and more. Cross-functional teams mean that tech, marketing, sales, and others bring their unique perspectives to every collaboration.

Insights for startups

The way the Grow team organizes the work on their product is very inspiring. Wise engineers who are part of the Grow project always share great ideas on how to streamline collaboration and keep creativity flowing. Here are some handy insights if you want to make a great product of your own.

Eat your own dog food

Using their own product to share feedback and grow their own teams helps Ryan and his colleagues constantly improve app user experience and enhance the functionality that is truly important and delivers value.

Be mission-driven

Instead of focusing on growing a user base and finding the killer features, why not select an important mission that resonates with you and put in efforts to accomplish it. If this mission is worthwhile, like-minded people will support you eventually.

Focus on values

When selecting people to join the project, Grow management considers culture-fit aspects and shared values to the same extent as professional expertise. This slows down the hiring process but makes it more mindful and totally pays out in the long run.

Delegate complex engineering

For the Grow team, hiring a dedicated team was a smart decision that helped the management focus on product development, while the outsourcing tech team took care of the extensive tasks that required lots of engineering effort.

Communicate proactively

At Grow, everyone can initiate improvements to the product, culture, workflows, and more. Cross-functional teams mean that tech, marketing, sales, and others bring their unique perspectives to every collaboration.

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