STARTUPS

Case About How We Created a Power Bank Rental Startup in Norway

ARTJOKER
ARTJOKER
8 min read

Did it ever happen to you that your phone was running low and was about to turn off while you were in a foreign city?

What?s to be done in such a situation? Would you buy a new phone? I don?t think so. Would you visit the nearest cafe to negotiate with the administration about putting your phone on charge? Perhaps, but it?s bothersome. Norwegian startup Chargo solves this problem by renting power banks, and you can find the closest point using the mobile application.

Case About How We Created a Power Bank Rental Startup in Norway

About the Client

Chargois a Norwegian power bank rental startup based in Oslo.Artjokercooperated with a client to develop a mobile application for finding charging stations quickly.

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How we started the work

We found a client during a roadshow in Oslo. We arranged business meetings with several companies to discuss how we could help each other. Fortunately, at exactly that moment the client was looking for a company that could create a high-quality application for their startup quickly. And we were open to new opportunities exactly that moment!

The project was launched quickly. We agreed on the start literally in 2 weeks and proceeded to write the code.

At first, the client needed only front end development at the time of launch. But right after a few days of work, it became clear that the scope was underestimated, and it was necessary to engage a back end developer to write a middleware between the hardware API and the mobile application.

We involved an additional developer who developed the middleware and created conditions for the smooth work of front end developers.

We started with writing and agreeing on technical documentation for the middleware, then we discussed which part of the information was taken from CRM, which part was taken from the middleware, and which part was taken from the payment system. By the way, later it was decided to move to a single source of information, the middleware, as much as possible.

The app's technology stack consisted of React Native (front end) and Node.js (back end):

  1. We chose React Native because the launch was planned on two platforms simultaneously, and this framework perfectly met all the requirements of the application. We ran into some problems when displaying markers on the map but changing the library helped to resolve this issue.
  2. We chose Node.js because there was a necessity in a large number of connections to the database, flexibility, and system performance which was solved with the help of this technology.

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App technology stack: React Native (front end) and Node.js (back end)

Challenges We Faced

There were many stakeholders involved that made it difficult for the teams to work. The design was created by one company, CRM was used from another company, there was also a hardware company from China, and we as developers. Besides, the side of the direct client of the app didn?t have a CTO which lead to confusion of the responsibility areas. In total, we had five sides and each of them needed to be heard and understood.

To solve the problem, we agreed:

  • To arrange weekly calls of the management staff of all parties
  • To create a chat with China (it turned out that WeChat can block you without giving reasons)
  • To provide a manager from the side of China who was available during working hours of development and answered all questions and engineers implemented tasks the next day
  • To discuss the procedure for collecting requirements and confirming tasks for work with a mandatory assessment and "from-to" range with the customer.

Also, there was a problem with the creation of a test environment. We agreed to create an additional address on the side of engineers from China and allocated some of the test equipment which was connected to the needed address. Thus, we managed to create an independent test environment, but in the app, we had to manually change the settings of the test and real environment.

Remarkably, most of the work on the project was conducted in January-February 2020, and since our hardware partners were located in China, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic were already happening there while the rest of the world was yet skeptical about the virus. At first, we waited two weeks till the end of the Chinese New Year celebration, and then there was a week-long downtime due to total quarantine.

Considering this, the Apple Store release took place in a very short time, at the end of February the application was already published. Right after the release, we continued to work on improving and adding new features, and a new improved version was published within 2-3 weeks. The app had several dozen downloads and several paid rentals. After that, a world lockdown was announced, and work was suspended for several months.

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Chargo mobile app

After the quarantine, we continued work and development of the project, until the product had its own development team with a dedicated CTO.

What is the result?

Chargo is an IoT application. We actively interacted with the hardware firmware of the stations while developing it. Besides, we worked with a payment service, a back end for orders and users, as well as with middleware, an intermediate layer that works directly with the application.

Any task is achievable for a team that has a firm goal and support from a client. We solved many difficult issues during the general interaction, and eventually, we created a great app that is quite simple in terms of UX but complex in terms of technology. The stakeholders? interests were taken into account. Also, we made sure that it is very important to initially speak out all the customer's expectations.

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Chargo mobile app interface

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