A mobile-web crowdfunding platform connects donors with students in an impactful and enriching way
When Peter Hazlehurst conceived AngelScholars, he dreamed of a platform that would make funding for a scholarship an easy and rewarding experience for donors and education a certainty for students and learners.
Hazlehurst, a former senior executive at Google, Yodlee, and Postmates explains his vision, “For as little as $50, AngelScholars makes it possible for people to get involved, have a personalized impact and have control over their donations.”
AngelScholars is an innovative crowdfunding platform and a networking engine that connects donors with students they care about. AngelScholars opens new ways of giving back by uniquely blending a social mission with for-profit efficacy.
Simplifying Scholarships with ‘Best-in-Class’ Technology
Like any disruptive crowdfunding concept, Hazlehurst knew that if he were to bring AngelScholars to market, he would have to iterate fast, and the quickest way to iterate was to build a mobile responsive web platform that could quickly adapt to user feedback.
Simplicity and superior user experience were the key drivers for AngelScholars. The interface had to be easy enough for users to understand and stay engaged, while also fast and viral enough to promote social media shares and engagement.
To build a platform with these features and be production-ready within few months, Hazlehurst knew that directly hiring staff engineers would be very difficult. He needed an engineering partner, who could not only empathize with his mission, but also bring the technical expertise and commitment to make it happen.
He needed a consulting partner who instead of the traditional client-vendor relationship could operate integrally as one extended team and learn, adapt, and iterate at a fast pace.
That’s why when he met with Mark Willnerd, the CEO and President of Toumetis, it felt like a great match. Toumetis’ team was known to Peter from his days at Yodlee. He was confident in their track record and technical expertise in building mobile and web platforms.
Mark got the vision of what we were trying to do and really leaned in and helped out from the very early phases.
Building a Brighter Future with Mobile and Web
So the mission to build a ‘Kickstarter for kids’ began.
Toumetis’ team managed the program and handled the entire engineering journey from product design to roll-out.
Although AngelScholars was based in California and the Toumetis development team in Bristol, UK, the intense collaboration started from day one. Daily scrums were introduced and a real-time delivery framework was soon put in place.
“We worked just as one team,” Hazlehurst recalls. “We communicated a lot and worked 24/7 as an extended team. I wrote the Project Requirements Document, but this project was not like a specification-based delivery. The Toumetis team listened, provided feedback, and we debated and rejected features when found to be not relevant.”
The technology stack evolved iteratively.
Hazlehurst points out, “The cool thing about modern engineering is we are building for everyday production. So testing is important and Toumetis has an excellent quality team. But what’s more important is the flexibility to adapt, adjust and react to change. Once an issue was detected we pushed a patch, and the patch was in action in just 15-20 minutes and that was great.”
The platform was tightly integrated with Facebook and Twitter to encourage viral sharing.
To illustrate the exceptional level of commitment, Hazlehurst recalls, “Just when we were shipping, and nearing that big project deadline, Toumetis’ lead engineer had a serious biking accident. But in less than 48 hours he was back coding for the project. This type of commitment is not seen in vendors, it is very real, and something you cannot buy.”
Digitally Transforming a Student’s Dream into Certainty
AngelScholars hit the market in less than six months – from concept to roll-out.
Toumetis’ team designed, developed, tested, integrated and deployed AngelScholars on AWS meeting the ambitious requirements of an easy and enriching user experience that scaled as required.
By working as one team and adapting to and mastering the latest of mobile and web tools and technology, the Toumetis team built AngelScholars, a crowdfunding platform for students to realize their learning dreams.
One great benefit of this engagement model was time and cost savings on in-house engineering infrastructure. Hazlehurst remarks “In the case of solutions like AngelScholars where there is intellectual property from a brand standpoint but not from a technology standpoint, the cost of an ‘own your own engineer’ model is high. By having a great partner like Toumetis, which acts like your own team, you don’t have to have that infrastructure in-house, which has both economic and execution benefits which we took advantage of.”
And not just once… as serial entrepreneur Hazlehurst continues “The proof is in the pudding. I’m already working on my next startup. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to engage with the Toumetis team to help me build it!”