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Interview with Helen Khais, Head of Business Development - Reinvently

Helen Khais Interview on

Helen Khais  linkedin

Head of Business Development, Reinvently

Give us a quick overview on Reinvently. When and how did you begin this journey and what were your motives to be successful in app development?

It has been an amazing journey since 2011, when Provectus added a new branch to its stack of services that was solely focused on mobile app design and development. We started out humbly - just one designer, one developer and project manager, led by Artem Petrov. The team had grown to six people by half a year, when I joined. It was still very family-like. Our first clients came from our network, but there was no marketing or sales strategy in place beyond that. This is why I came aboard. Provectus launched three new brands for establishing a clear positioning on the market: Reinvently, Squadex, and Hydrosphere. Reinvently is now a recognized brand among technology startups in the Bay Area and Dallas.  

When it comes to success factors in app development, there are so many, so I’ll focus on the essential ones:

Company culture. No matter what business you are in, never underestimate how important your team is to your company’s success. Especially when your company is young, you need a carefully selected team that is passionate, disciplined, yet fun-loving and open-minded. Every team member needs to feel a sense of ownership over his or her job and be willing to do the work needed for the company to succeed.

Processes and being able to work agile in a changing environment.

Transparency and education. It’s important to educate and coach not only internal team members, but also offer insights and thorough explanations to your clients. This is especially important for growing relationships with startups, whose knowledge about technology, tools, integrations, etc is limited. It’s important to stay objective when educating your clients. Any manipulation might be sensed and lead to poor outcomes.

Focus on the product, the problem and the end users. It’s essential to understand the problem and validate it as early as possible before burning too much cash. App development is a very complicated process that involves many pieces of information that the team must collect and keep in mind, including market analysis, competitive environments, new technologies, and user feedback. Clients tend to appreciate and continue on-going relationships with app development teams that are able to take that load off their chests and allow them to focus on acquisition, sustainability and operations.

And last but not least, communication. This is my pet peeve! I have even given workshops on the topic. Effective communication is the glue that holds people together who barely know each other. Open, transparent communication builds trust, which is essential for long–term results. As an app developer, you are doomed to fail if you don’t invest in effective communication with your clients.


What is your role in the management and development of Reinvently? 

My focus as Vice President of Business Development is on sales processes, sales development and coaching, team management, pipeline, and forecasting. I also contribute to much of the sustainability and scalability decisions for marketing and product development implementations.


Tell us about your biggest achievement in the industry

Our company has grown to a team of 400 employees. That’s 8 years of steady growth, none of which relied on external funding!

Our goal has always been to become a recognized brand for small, medium and large enterprises in Silicon Valley. I am proud to say that we have achieved this goal. We have also made a name for ourselves in Dallas, Texas, where we also have offices. We are recognized as the top 5 and the top 10 mobile app developer in the Bay Area and Dallas, respectively.

Finally, we have been an AWS Advanced Technology partner since 2018, which gives us a whole new entryway to providing digital transformation services for enterprise clients.

How do you schedule the development phases of the apps to promise the timeline to your clients?

There are several mechanisms in place. Our engineers at any point in time are 100% dedicated to one project. In other words, when we start product development implementation, we assign a team that is comprised of full-time engineers, a part-time project manager and a Quality Assurance engineer. Project managers who are assigned to product development teams typically have at least 10 years of product management and technical experience, so they not only can manage scope and requirements, but also conduct team audits frequently and report on velocity and quality to our engineering lead. This ensures that we can deliver the highest quality work on schedule.

How do you help your clients in choosing the right yet profitable platform for app development?

We would typically take into account our analysis of the market, client’s immediate and long-term goals, as well as our capabilities. Finally, we also consider budget expectations. I mentioned budget expectations last, because it really comes last in our analysis. Lately, we have been offering a PWA approach for developing mobile apps to our clients, especially when the immediate goal is to test and validate a hypothesis in an MVP with bigger audience and under a smaller budget. For such cases it wouldn’t make sense to spend twice as much on creating two separate native mobile apps (iOS and Android). But, we always educate our clients on the limitations that this approach has in comparison to Native development and are fully transparent that after successfully validating the idea, it might make sense to “re-write” the apps natively.

Which would you suggest for a successful and profitable business progression, Native or hybrid apps? How do you define the factors that influenced you to make this choice?

I will always suggest and choose native over hybrid, specifically because of the user experience, lack of limitations, especially as it relates to integrations, and sustainability. But again, we have to consider many factors when making that choice and outlining our suggestions to the prospective client.

How do you scheme your pricing model? How do you fix your budget?

We stopped pricing according to flat rates in 2012-2013. The market we operate in is changing so rapidly that fixing scopes and budgets is not feasible. When I entered the industry there was no iPhone. I had a BlackBerry, but all I could do was email, make calls, use Skype, text, and that was about it. Now I do everything from my phone, from banking and learning to entertainment. Soon there will be Uber flying taxis and Airbnb for business, and what is true today could look very different tomorrow. So where we once had flat rate contracts, we now offer estimates, make promises, and hold our teams accountable. When the scope of a project changes, we sit down with the client and work out how it will affect the budget, timelines, and success metrics for the product.

Our pricing is based on man-hours. We have been complimented many times on the thoroughness of our product analysis and estimation. Prospective clients often praise us for our transparency and the thoroughness of our estimates.

How helpful are the mobile apps developed by your team, for enhancing your clients’ business?

Well, we mostly work with smaller companies that are going through digital transformation, innovative startups with a mobile-first approach, and IoT businesses, largely in the healthcare space. So I am pretty confident that all apps that we have been working on in the last 2-3 years were specifically designed to enhance our clients’ businesses. Meaning, that we built these products with increased user activation, engagement, retention, and referrals in mind. For some of our clients we are able to monitor user engagement metrics. This enables us to optimize in ways that ultimately enhance our clients’ businesses.

To take an example: when, an online concert-streaming company, turned to us in 2014, they were in the process of vetting technology companies to potentially help expand their business model, improve their app experience, and position themselves to stand out in the competitive music streaming industry. We are proud to say that we are still working with them today. Together, we have built a couple of world-class products with a distinctive, user-centric design and innovative subscription model. At the same time, we have implemented tech solutions to help them grow their business.  


What according to you are the best practices to attain client satisfaction?

In my experience, more communication is better than less – though there can be such a thing as too much. It’s also important to stay passionate about the product – really care about its success. And of course, to deliver on time and on budget.

How do you update your business system to be in pace with the technological advancements?

Keeping up with the technological advancements is probably the biggest challenge for any organization nowadays. In one day alone we have learned about Facebook acquiring Ctrl-labs, a New York-based company that built a wristwatch that lets users control computers with their thoughts, about Google and NASA potential to unlock quantum computing potential. How do you keep up with that?

It’s challenging to keep pace, especially when there are commitments and contracts in place. We stay up to date on the latest technology trends and we have enough tech resource buffers to allow ourselves to experiment without compromising on our clients’ products success. As a matter of fact such “side” projects boost productivity of our engineers as they get an opportunity to experiment with some new frameworks, solutions, integrations, etc. Not all tech advancements become flagship, gain traction and sustain on the market, that’s why we seldom advise our clients to experiment with newly-introduced technologies, unless it is explicitly requested.

What is your motto for business development that has helped Reinvently achieve success?

Honest conversations, transparent processes, methodology that delivers, and product first!

What are your thoughts about AR, VR and Internet of Things (IoT)?

 I think they are the future. And, those who try to ignore them will become the past tense.

What do you think will be the future of mobile technology? 

If we talk about mobile technology, I believe a lot of the UI controls will be replaced with voice-enabled controls and commands. As such, it’s quite likely that smart-phone as the primary communication device might vanish. Users will converse on their phone or other connected device, like they would otherwise talk with their partner, except for, they will anticipate immediate response and immediate satisfaction of their needs.  

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