Anatomy of a Mobile App development project

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 5.14.22 PM“Being the first to respond to a deal on Axial gives you a 19% greater chance to closing it.” – Peter Lehrman – Bloomberg Business 2015-09-11

It is based on this insight that, for the past 6 months, Axial has assembled a team dedicated to putting together a solution that gives the investors the power to control and direct deal flow within the palm of their hands. Introducing Axial Mobile for iOS!

Native vs Hybrid

Over the past few years, a recurring topic has been whether to develop mobile apps using native languages (Swift/Objective-C for iOS or Android SDK) or hybrid frameworks relying on platforms’ browsers (UIWebView for iOS or WebView in Android).

While the native approach allows for a closer integration with each platform’s abilities and greater hardware responsiveness, the decision to go with the hybrid approach was motivated by several factors:

  • one unique codebase:
    • ease of maintenance,
    • multi platform deployment simplified,
    • simplified testing
  • ability to use a familiar framework:
    • smaller learning curve
    • supporting resources immediately available
    • ease of development scaling if required
  • maturity of the Ionic framework:

The choice of Ionic Framework

Over the last two years, Ionic has grown to become the reference framework in the hybrid community, providing custom industry standard components built on the Angular framework

Relying on Apache Cordova to enable developers to access native device function such as the camera or accelerometer directly from JavaScript, Ionic has created a free and open source library of mobile-optimized HTML, CSS and JS components, gestures and tools for building interactive apps from JavaScripts.

Moreover, the Ionic.io platform comes with a complete hybrid-focused suite of mobile backend services to integrate powerful features such as push notifications and rapid deployment.

Since we have adopted Angular as our reference front-end framework, it is only natural for Axial to leverage many of Ionic components and services in order to deliver the most embedded experience to its members.filter

Push notification integration

Using Ionic.io’s push service, we have the ability to notify members of deals they receive instantly. Our members also have the ability to adjust their notification preferences:settings

We can also very efficiently trigger updates in the background so that it ensures a smooth user experiences by preloading updated data using silent notifications.

Rapid deployment process

The Apple App Store release process takes approximately a week. However, in order to fix critical issues or release changes rapidly, 7 days can seem like an eternity.

For this reason, Ionic.io’s deploy service allows us to release any non binary affecting changes on the go. As a result, having this flexibility allows us to ship code more frequently, enhancing our members experience without forcing them to go through painful, often delayed (or forgotten) updates via the App Store.

Contributions to Ionic

Despite numerous features and wildly embraced standard components, Ionic may have some gaps. As we have discovered during the implementation of Axial Mobile, while the right-to-left swipe gesture on a collection repeat item was available, the opposite left-to-right gesture was not.

Thankfully, building a wildly adopted Angular framework, it was simple enough to implement our own left-to-right swipe gesture and submit a pull request on Github in order to contribute to the framework and give back to the open source project.swipes

Future Developments

Having shipped our Axial Mobile version 1.0 on September 21st, we are now awaiting feedback from users.

Our members now have the ability, in the palm of their hand, accessible from anywhere, to pursue or decline deals and create conversation around the ones that catch their interests.
Soon, we will be integrating HelloSign services to provide a way for our members to sign NDAs and other documentation directly on their smartphones screen, allowing them to engage one step further in the deal making process.

Why The Technology Matters

networkThere are 230,000,000 small and medium-sized businesses globally.  Less than 1% of these companies will go public.  Instead, these companies will need to access private capital markets both to finance growth and also to exit.  These private capital markets are mysterious, relationship-driven, offline, and unmeritocratic.  Axial’s search engine and online network helps business owners & private company CEOs navigate these capital markets and develop the necessary connections they need to successfully finance or sell their company.

This isn’t a problem if you’re Exxon, Apple, Google, Procter & Gamble, 3M, etc., it’s easy to access efficient capital markets. The world’s best investment banks, global law firms and big five accounting firms are beating down a path to your door to advise you and help you do that. And if you’re a young tech startup, the path has also become fairly straightforward (albeit not easy). You can visit the right VC suspects in Silicon Valley, NYC or Boston and you’ll be able to get a good sense for what kind of user or revenue traction you’ll need to access their pools of venture capital.

But what about “normal” entrepreneurs running one of these 228,000,000 companies? The family-owned $27M revenue wood pellet manufacturer in Nebraska? The owner-operated $4M revenue surgical supplies distributor in Georgia founded in the 1970s? How do these entrepreneurs successfully access capital? Who helps them find the right capital partners? Who helps them find their M&A lawyer, who helps them identify and select the right investment banker to advise them on key deal terms, valuation, and helps them drive towards a successful outcome?  The answer is Axial. We build the network that connects business owners to the capital markets.

The Axial Search Quality Challenge

Just like Google, LinkedIn, Yelp, Amazon, or Zillow, we’re constantly trying to solve for search quality. Search quality for the Entrepreneurial Economy has three fundational components:

 1. Comprehensive and accurate intent data.

The perfect search engine for the entrepreneurial economy would have investment criteria and risk profiles for every capital provider. It would know the perfect client profile for every professional advisor. It would know what each entrepreneur needed to take their next step, right now.

2. Exhaustive profile and historical behavioral data.

The perfect search engine for the entrepreneurial economy would have a complete understanding of the historical financial performance of every company, would know how they’ve grown in the past, would know who’s on the board, the leadership team, and how each of those key players had performed in their current and previous roles. It would know every investor at each fund, where they were before, and all the investments they’d made in their career. It would know the industries and size of transactions that a professional advisor has worked in.

3. A Great Algorithm.

The perfect search engine for the entrepreneurial economy would take intent, augmented by historical behavior and performance, and recommend the right organizations and professionals for any entrepreneur running any kind of company, and go on to tell you the best way to connect with them.

The Importance of Trust

Where it gets even more technically challenging is when you overlay the personal relationship element of all of this. The transactions that are getting done on Axial are confidential and sensitive. It’s someone deciding to sell their company or obtain additional capital. These decisions aren’t taken lightly or shared broadly. Ensuring that these entrepreneurs are successful isn’t only about creating highly relevant search results, it’s about helping them figure out the best path to connect with people through trusted mediums. It’s about quality, and about avoiding spam and noise. It’s about making sure people are responsive to one another.

So in addition to building a great search engine, we focus on building a well-behaved network of professionals who engage on the right opportunities, observe best practices, and are incentivized through the design of our software to do so. That means sophisticated implicit and explicit reputation systems, that means a product that makes it really easy to do things the right way and hard to do things the wrong way.

Welcome to Axial. We focus on solving one of the world’s most important problems — connecting entrepreneurs to the capital markets at massive scale.