How Legacy Modernization with WeKan and MongoDB Atlas Helps Meet Evolving Consumer Demands
COVID-19 has accelerated the growth and adoption of digital economies across the globe, and the businesses best positioned to keep pace with related changes in consumer behavior and demand will continue to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. According to a consumer study by FIS Global that surveyed participants to understand changes in recent buying behaviour and patterns, consumers have spent 58% more money online since the pandemic started. What’s more, 42% of respondents stated an increase in purchases from local/independent small businesses, and 27% of consumers have subscribed to one new online streaming platform. Large institutions and household brands can not risk complacency if they want to maintain market share. The customer loyalty of today will be captured by the companies that act with agility and optimize data to deliver the most seamless, custom experience for consumers. Unsurprisingly, business models that have prioritized and directed resources towards aligning their processes with digital transformation are better placed to deal with customer behaviour shifting into the digital realm. And yet, innumerable businesses are plagued by the limitations of their legacy IT systems when trying to modernize their digital experience. For many organizations, legacy systems are seen as holding back the business initiatives and business processes that rely on them...when a tipping point is reached, application leaders must look to application modernization to help remove the obstacles Stefan Van Der Zijden, VP Analyst, Gartner Continued use of these systems holds back businesses’ potential for revenue generation and building customer-facing credibility; but modernizing them reaps worthy rewards. Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. This post will detail how organizations can undertake this modernization process, often termed “legacy modernization,” so as to leverage the speed, agility, and responsiveness required to succeed in a digital-first marketplace. What is legacy modernization? Legacy modernization refers to the process of updating an organization’s antiquated IT stack to align with new-age business goals and workflows. To drive innovation, business leaders need to be supported by technology that can help implement their goals in the real world. They need fast-paced, highly connected systems with minimal-to-zero downtime, and platforms or dashboards that provide cohesive and easily comprehensible views of the entire ecosystem. Generally, legacy IT stacks are incapable of meeting these standards which is where legacy modernization comes in. Defining legacy systems and 4 major drawbacks Essentially, a legacy system is any software or technological system that slows down an organization’s business growth and its ability to shift and adapt to changing market forces. If a software setup is unable to integrate with newer systems, workflows or processes, it qualifies as “legacy.” Generally the incompatibility of legacy technologies, and the bottlenecks that come with them, lead to major issues related to maintenance, support, updates, integration and overall user experience. Think of it this way: using a legacy system in 2021 is comparable to driving a Prius with an engine made in 2000. Legacy solutions lack flexibility and carry a significant technology debt due to dated languages, databases, architectures, and a limited supply of aging baby-boomer programmers. a Deloitte Study on Legacy Systems and Modernization The business impact of legacy systems are varied, but often adverse. They include: 1. Inability to act with agility and meet demand Generally, legacy systems can only be accessed from office computers. But in a digital-first world, mobile devices are at the core of digital transformation. If employees cannot access necessary software from anywhere at any time, their productivity and operational capacity is severely limited. The link between software and employee performance has, in fact, been well-documented . For instance, in 2015 , a computer running a 23 year-old operating system (Windows 3.1) caused planes to be grounded at Paris’ Orly airport for several hours. Needless to say, customers were not happy. 2. Decreased employee productivity and customer satisfaction Everyday people are at the heart of digital transformation. If a business wants to attract and retain customers who are increasingly reliant on their internet-powered mobile devices for day-to-day activities and transactions, they have to meet them online. And if they want to attract top talent, they need to equip their employees with the tools and agility needed to innovate. Being saddled with legacy systems will prevent companies from using newer apps and providing the best possible customer service, support and experience. Additionally, sub-par employee performance and customer service will inevitably cause financial loss due to unsatisfied customers and missed opportunities for expansion. 3. Scalability issues and security risks Legacy software is usually incapable of scaling up, which poses major obstacles to business growth. In a competitive marketplace, businesses must be able to shift strategy and optimize according to market forces, for which they need the support of their IT stack. An excellent example of this is how companies have had to adapt to remote work becoming the ‘new normal’ due to the global pandemic. The IBM 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report puts the average cost of a data breach at USD 3.92 million. Legacy software almost always has glaring flaws in its security mechanisms for multiple reasons: withdrawal of manufacturer support, lack of updates and regular maintenance, difficulties in fixing vulnerabilities within outdated systems. Issues like security breaches will significantly harm brand credibility and repel customers from entrusting the business with their data. 4. Higher costs Administrative, support and maintenance costs are unnecessarily high when companies have to work with legacy software. Additionally, hiring and training new employees, especially developers, is difficult since there is a shortage of coders trained in legacy languages like COBOL and Natural. Most legacy systems are hosted on premise, which translates to enormous and unnecessary overhead related to maintenance and upgrades. These costs are easily eliminated by leveraging cloud computing platforms like AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure. Despite these glaring inadequacies, the pandemic has revealed how far too many organizations continue to rely on aging IT systems. In a 2020 AppDynamics Report , 66% of technologists say “the pandemic has exposed weaknesses in their digital strategy, driving an urgent need to push through initiatives which were once a part of multi-year digital transformation programs.” A roadmap for legacy modernization The journey to legacy modernization can be an intensive one, but there are proven best practices and expert guidance to help you get started. Galvanize the key players in your organization and get started by asking the right questions: What resources can be assigned to the modernization endeavour? Do your employees possess the skills to operate the new systems? What are the specific competitive advantages that modernization needs to provide for your organization? Is there a separate support and retirement schedule in place for your legacy system? Should modernization occur in a single shift or in phases? How will this affect our business? Escaping the pressures imposed by unwieldy tech stacks has become possible with microservices and cloud-based application development and/or usage. The trick lies in decentralizing business tech offerings by migrating them from Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS) to the Cloud via scalable solutions like MongoDB Atlas , MongoDB's hosted database-as-a-service offering. Moving from monolith to microservices architecture can be complex, but offers multiple long-term advantages across multiple parameters. Refactoring monolithic systems requires carefully constructed strategies, the most successful of which are drawn from the Strangler Pattern approach . How do we modernize from existing legacy systems? Initiate new functionalities as microservices: Every time a business has to implement a new functionality or feature, they can incorporate it as a microservice instead of adding it to the existing monolith architecture. Not only does this prevent the legacy stack from expanding, but allows stakeholders to become acquainted with the advantages of microservice ecosystems. Dismantle the monolith: Once microservices have been introduced into an organization’s ecosystem, monolith structures need to be deconstructed for eventual elimination. Companies like FedEx and CitiBank have attested to the success of a microservices-based strategy with real world implementation. To quote FedEx CIO Rob Carter , “We began to build out the services and microservices that represent the less complex, more flexible, faster-to-market capabilities that we have today.” CitiBank, too, opted for migrating its monolith system to a microservices-based architecture so as to accelerate digital transformation. How WeKan and MongoDB Atlas can help Implementing successful, sustainable and scalable legacy modernization requires expertise in executing on the process itself, as well as the right tools that can understand and adapt to an organization’s unique needs and business goals. Databases and platforms like MongoDB and its tool suite help address the challenges of replatforming from monolith to microservice. MongoDB Atlas is the leading choice of general purpose databases for modernization. As a document-based, distributed database, MongoDB reduces time spent on development cycles and empowers developers with flexible schema and the tools they need to maintain productivity. A leap forward from traditional RDBMS, MongoDB Atlas's smart infrastructure helps organizations scale effortlessly and maintain business-critical reliability while driving lower TCO, reducing security risk, and remaining ACID compliant. Complementary to MongoDB, WeKan’s Modernization process is composed of 5 phases that aim to scope an optimal modernization journey for any business operating on legacy systems and looking for a better return on their technology investment: Diagnosis phase – The first step is to understand the current state of the business, its most critical pain points and identify major inefficiencies that can be solved through technology modernization. Prescription phase – With a good understanding of the business’ state, we propose reference solution architectures that can address most critical pain points and enhance overall performance of their technology ecosystem with a focus on always reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) and increasing ROI on their technology spend. Validation phase – After gathering potential solutions, we then validate through POCs their tech viability, expected outcomes and leverage results from these efforts to narrow down and select the option that is best suited to the business’ needs. Requirements definition phase – With a target solution in hand, we work on defining the technical requirements and specifications of the proposed solution to ensure seamless integration to the overall technology ecosystem. Execution and Implementation phase – With the right solution architecture, technical requirements in place, and a proposed modernization plan, our modernization consultants work hand-in-hand with internal stakeholders on the development, testing, delivery and implementation of the proposed modernized solution. According to the World Economic Forum, digital transformation could generate more than $100 trillion by 2025 . Without legacy modernization, businesses will miss out on tapping into revenue streams offered by the digital economy. It is integral for organizations to leverage the many advantages of modernization so that they may gain and retain a competitive edge in a constantly connected and perpetually online marketplace. To learn more about WeKan and MongoDB Atlas's efficacy in organization-centric digital transformation, refer to our case study with RideKleen. After migrating operations to AWS, WeKan chose MongoDB Atlas, Atlas Data Lake and MongoDB Realm as their central data platform. Atlas offers a fully managed cloud database service with built-in automation, Atlas Data Lake provides federated query capabiliites to natively data query across MongoDB and AWS S3, while MongoDB Realm simplifies the critical edge-to-cloud sync and provides backend services to speed development work, including triggers, functions, and GraphQL. RideKleen case study Watch how MongoDB’s industry-best modernization services helped OTTO, Germany’s #2 global e-commerce provider and #1 site for e-commerce, fashion and lifestyle. Learn more about our Modernization Program Learn more about WeKan
Built With MongoDB: FanPlay
Pritesh Kumar and Bharat Gupta co-founded FanPlay Technologies at the beginning of the pandemic that shook the world in 2020. With their real money gaming (RMG) product, they’ve joyfully brought thousands of people together across India in a safe way, while establishing the country’s leading gaming app. For this segment of #BuiltWithMongoDB, we spoke with Pritesh about their company’s business model, how MongoDB is working to their advantage, and what celebrities are already utilizing their platform. MongoDB: What prompted you to build FanPlay? Pritesh: The emergence of COVID-19 really prompted me into the startup world again. I’ve been a founder in the past, and I knew that at this time a lot of new companies would emerge, so I decided to be part of that. The idea for FanPlay came from observing Cameo . I was really impressed by its strong viral growth and its monetization of influencers. I think these micro influencers on the platform, although they don’t make a lot of money for a single video, can add massive value to any business. And at the same time, we were looking at the RMG industry, which was and still is the fastest-growing space in online gaming. But there is a real problem of very high customer acquisition cost. So, we put one and one together and started building an influencer-led, RMG platform. We get influencers to host real-money trivia games for the fans and followers on our platform. Typically these influencers promote their own shows on their social media platforms. They gather an audience from YouTube, TikTok, and various other channels, and then they come to our platform for the gaming experience. The audience usually pays a small entry fee. From that entry fee, a prize is created, that prize goes to the winner of the game, and from that prize we take a cut. So this is our business model. MongoDB: What was your initial vision for the product, and what does it look like today? Pritesh: The product has changed a lot from what we initially envisioned. We started with a web app initially because we thought that acquiring users on the web would be much easier, but then we launched our free Android app and it did very well. From there we launched our paid-entry model. So the product has gone through three iterations so far. In the beginning we worked a lot with Instagram influencers and realized that we needed to be working with influencers on YouTube, and specifically with people more regionally significant to India, where most of our business is at the moment. We have also expanded to hosting established faces from Instagram and YouTube. MongoDB: Can you tell us about the scale of the platform? Pritesh: Currently we work with about 500 influencers that have a lot of visibility, and we host roughly 20,000 active users daily, from India. Typically we run about 20 games per day, and we’re working to scale that to 100 per day. MongoDB: What does your tech stack consist of? Pritesh: The app is built in React Native, and the back end is Node.js. Then of course for a database we use MongoDB. MongoDB was a very clear choice for us. From a professional standpoint, as an early-stage startup, you don’t know what your product will eventually turn into, right? How will it evolve in the next six months or a year? So it’s difficult to stick to a schema. Therefore, you need a lot of flexibility. Because of our need for flexibility, SQL was out of the question, so we needed to go with NoSQL. Once we decided on NoSQL, MongoDB became the obvious choice because of the community support and documentation. As a founder, I believe in really fast execution and putting your product out there, rather than waiting for a pitch-perfect product. And that demands a lot of flexibility from the business, product, and tech sides, because we need to be able to make immediate changes based on the features that are demanded and that catch the users’ attention. With MongoDB, we are able to try a lot of product variations or tweaks very quickly. MongoDB: As you've scaled, is there a particular MongoDB feature you've benefited the most from? Pritesh: There are a few features of MongoDB Atlas that have benefitted us a lot. One is the performance metrics. It’s really really amazing, actually. You can get a very clear picture of the state of your database in a single snapshot. It helps you buy time to focus on shipping your core product and the technology behind it. It removes your focus on database management and cluster management and just does it for you right out of the box. Also, Atlas handles all of the sharding and scaling. And something that I didn’t foresee but found very useful is its scalability. Startups tend to start at a scale where the free version of any cloud product would be good enough, right? But then you quickly move into a very different kind of need and scale. It just keeps on changing! Atlas gives us that flexibility to scale up really quickly with a very minimal amount of effort. MongoDB: Have you used any of the MongoDB for Startups services? Pritesh: Yes! We had a session with a technical advisor. I found it really helpful for addressing the key features we are launching in the future, and the main challenges we are going to face when building them. I was able to discuss those and was very satisfied. The session was really good for us. MongoDB: Who is the most well-known celebrity to have hosted a game so far on FanPlay? Pritesh: The comedian Kumar Varun ! MongoDB: Who is your favorite TV or game show host? Pritesh: Amitabh Bachchan , who is a household name in India for his acting and for his role as host of Kaun Banega Crorepati (India’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire). MongoDB: What is your favorite podcast or blog? Pritesh: The InfoQ Podcast . It goes deep into how organizations build challenging tech products. Looking to build something cool? Get started with the MongoDB for Startups program.
Built With MongoDB: Antler
Antler is a global early-stage venture capital firm that invests in the defining technology companies of tomorrow. The firm has offices in 13 cities worldwide, across six continents. Founded in Singapore in 2017, Antler is on a mission to fundamentally improve the world by enabling and investing in the world's most exceptional people. Since its launch, Antler has invested in and helped build over 250 companies. Antler enables exceptional people to build impactful technology startups by building complementary teams, supporting the teams with deep business model validation, and providing a global platform to scale their startups — and that’s why we’re thrilled to announce the firm’s partnership with MongoDB for Startups . We recently touched base with Antler Partner Björn Lindfors to talk about entrepreneurship, building and managing new companies, and partnering with MongoDB. Björn arrived at Antler after an incredible entrepreneurial journey of his own that included launching a web design studio to fix “crappy websites” during his university days, learning the ropes at Google, and serving as an executive of two companies in Singapore. Antler has raised $78 million and has offices in 13 locations across the world. MongoDB: How does Antler differentiate itself from other accelerator programs? Björn: We’re technically not an accelerator. We’re even earlier than that: we bring together between 70-100 top performers who may not even have an idea yet for phase 1 of the program, where they collaborate with other aspiring entrepreneurs to come up with an investment-worthy idea they can present to our Investment Committee. We’re very hands-on in our approach to venture building: We have a range of technical and business advisors who coach the entrepreneurs and follow their progress. For example, I’m still in weekly contact with many companies that we invested in during our 2018 sessions. We’re builders ourselves, and we want to keep adding value and serving as sounding boards for our community members. MongoDB: What do you recommend to your CTO founders when building out their companies? Björn: The first thing I encourage them to understand is that product isn’t everything. Building your product shouldn’t distract you from other things that are incredibly important for a successful business — for example, how to effectively run an engineering organization, how to hire good people, and how to make sure that your team members are constantly happy. The real struggle for me in transitioning into a CTO role at one of my former companies was the management aspect. I had completely underestimated the human elements and how much time and effort you need to spend to ensure that people are feeling happy and productive. I always tell people to focus more energy on that. MongoDB: Have you personally used MongoDB in your past companies? Björn: Yes, I have used MongoDB quite a bit, especially during my consulting years. If you’re building something quickly and don’t quite know where to start, MongoDB is the perfect partner. MongoDB is convenient and flexible enough to adjust as you transform your prototype into something more permanent. The first iteration of whatever you build is likely 80% wrong anyway, and you don’t want to be stuck with something clunky. For most consumer apps and business use cases with simple business logic, MongoDB works great. MongoDB: How has the Antler community responded to the MongoDB for Startups partnership announcement? Björn: When it was announced on our internal Slack group, which consists of thousands of people from our alumni and portfolio globally, there was a lot of excitement. MongoDB is part of the default stack that startups use to build businesses. I get questions from founders constantly about how to build, and I constantly advise them to use MongoDB. There’s no point in people teaching themselves something else for the purpose of building when MongoDB is the perfect default kit. We are excited to deepen the partnership over time. MongoDB: Why should aspiring founders work with Antler? Björn: If you’re driven, curious, and passionate about changing the world in some small, weird, and wonderful way, we are the right fit for you. We back founders working in all sectors and provide the right resources, mentorship, and community to help get their businesses off the ground. MongoDB: What do you think the future of Antler looks like? Björn: I think it could evolve in a few different ways. If you look at the entire investment landscape, at least here in Singapore and Southeast Asia, the seed investment sector has become very competitive. Seed investors are competing for deals and therefore have to provide strategic value along with funding to their portfolio companies in ways that they didn't have to before. Good entrepreneurs now have options, so the pressure is on investors to provide a lot of additional strategic value. Similarly, we’ll keep innovating on the services we can provide founders to help them be successful in this changing tech landscape. Interested in learning more about MongoDB for Startups? Learn more about us here . Special thanks to Andrew Bell for his help in compiling this piece!
Built With MongoDB: Vectorly
Built With MongoDB: Phable
Hundreds of millions of people across India face chronic diseases. India has the second-highest number of diabetics in the world, and citizens with high blood pressure, thyroid conditions, and other chronic ailments are underserved in the country because there’s no robust system in place governing how the treatment and diagnosis will be handled. Given the lack of a proper infrastructure, diseases slip under the radar because they’re not caught early on. That’s where Phable comes in. According to TechCrunch , "Phable has created a more transparent and real-time communication channel that allows a doctor to nudge their patients to take their medicine on time, and make any necessary changes to the lifestyle or medication cycle, or request a follow-up appointment. The app itself can be used for tele-consultation, the demand for which has skyrocketed in recent quarters as coronavirus forced people to stay indoors.” The company, which has raised $12 million in funding from India’s Manipal Hospitals and venture capital and investment management firm SOSV, reaches 350,000 patients, 5,000 doctors, and a staff of 100 people across Chennai and Bangalore. In this edition of #BuiltWithMongoDB, we talk with Phable’s Creative and Marketing Consultant Ganesh Chandrashekar and Engineering Manager Venkatesh Walajabad about what drives their business. MongoDB: What is the Phable product offering right now? Ganesh: We currently have two products: patient facing, and doctor facing. For patients, we give them a sense of their everyday health and handhold them through the process of understanding their first symptoms, getting prescribed a treatment plan, and recording their ongoing lifestyle changes. We help map and manage those lifestyle changes at a fundamental level, while giving them intelligent insights to help them make small tangible changes to everyday habits. We also connect them to doctors in a more real-time manner, so doctors have deep visibility into a patient’s health, and the patients can get personalized recommendations from doctors. While our focus is on preventive and personalized care, we have some value-added services that ease our users’ journey. They can order medicines from the app, schedule video consultations with doctors, and request lab tests directly. We’re building a broader health tech ecosystem where we are able to partner with the relevant companies — including some leading names in health device manufacturing, insurance companies, and medicine providers. For doctors, we’ve built a full product suite with a decision support system and EMR. So we’re able to help them digitize their practice, prioritize and process patient data, simplify clinic management and build better relationships with their patients. MongoDB: Has COVID-19 impacted product adoption or any of the features that are being used? Ganesh: Our growth has been in parallel with the pandemic over the past year. The pandemic gave a sense of urgency, and put the spotlight back on healthcare and understanding health at a more granular level. A lot of the new features we have — especially virtual doctor consultations — were developed at a breakneck speed to cater to users at home during the pandemic. MongoDB: You released the video consultations really quickly, especially given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 in 2020. How did you approach that from the technical side? Ventkatesh: Because there were a lot of unknowns in building this, we wanted to experiment and release in certain phases so we could gather feedback and then add features on top of that. We are quite nimble at Phable as a whole: we started with consultations, moved on to an ecommerce platform, and then added wallet features. Similarly, for the video consultation product, we released in chunks — experimenting with users, analyzing their usage, and then shipping the feature more widely. MongoDB: How did the team decide to build with MongoDB? Venkatesh: The decision for MongoDB happened right from Day 1, because the team wanted to go with a MEAN [MongoDB, Express.js , AngularJS , and Node.js ] and MERN [MongoDB, Express.js, ReactJS, and Node.js] stack. Initially we used the community version, and then early last year we shifted to MongoDB Atlas. We wanted to use all the clustering capabilities and backup support, in addition to the profiling and detection of slow queries. We use a lot of those features to figure out where our bottlenecks are. We got some credits through MongoDB for Startups, but MongoDB Atlas is still on the more expensive side for us. Even though it is a little expensive, the advantages that we get from MongoDB Atlas far outweigh the cost. We use AWS for our server needs, and we have a fair bit of integration between AWS and MongoDB via VPC peering so all data is more secure, in addition to the encryption MongoDB provides. MongoDB: How is your engineering team structured? Venkatesh: There are 18 engineers on the team — and we’re trying to add more so we can launch more features and expand into new markets. Readers take note: We are hiring engineers for our India offices! MongoDB: How has scaling with MongoDB been, especially given how much you've grown during COVID_19? Venkatesh: MongoDB Atlas takes care of all the autoscaling for us. We worked closely with a consultant to figure out what minimum and maximum instances we need for our clusters, and then we rely on MongoDB to do the autoscaling. During a calmer period, MongoDB Atlas scales down perfectly well and reduces the costs; in a high-growth period, it scales up to accommodate for the traffic. We love that it automanages things so we don’t have to worry about it day to day. Because MongoDB’s features take care of most of the work, we don’t need a dedicated person to oversee this — we plan a few months ahead, and then we let MongoDB take care of the work. Looking to build something cool? Get started with the MongoDB for Startups program.
Built With MongoDB: Milky Way AI
Built With MongoDB: Italic
Derek Tu and Jeremy Cai , two high school friends from the Chicago suburbs, began aspiring to become entrepreneurs at a young age. Their pursuits took them to Babson College, where they overlapped until Jeremy received a Thiel Fellowship and dropped out of school to build his first startup. Now, the two friends have teamed back up to create Italic , a membership-based marketplace, with Jeremy as Founder/CEO and Derek as Product Lead. The game-changing Italic platform offers manufacturers the chance to sell their products directly to consumers and reach a global customer base. Since its launch in 2018, the company has raised $15 million and given consumers the chance to shop unbranded quality goods at prices 80 percent lower than what comparable brands would ordinarily charge. Italic launched with a waitlist of more than 50 thousand people, and it’s also built a team of 54 employees across the world. In this edition of #BuiltWithMongoDB, we talk with Derek about building the new “everything store” and his experience building a game-changing ecommerce platform with MongoDB. MongoDB: What was the original vision for Italic, and what does the product look like now? Derek: The original vision for Italic was pretty simple in my opinion. It was to make good on the original promise of direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce, which is to cut out the middleman, sell goods or services straight from the source, and pass the margin savings back to the customer. We strongly felt that existing DTC incumbents weren’t upholding this promise and had become themselves the middlemen in this entire equation. We eventually found that we could best deliver on this promise by operating a subscription model in which we charge for a membership that grants customers access to our entire product offering. By doing that, we’ve been able to drop the prices on products to a level where we are essentially passing all the savings directly to the members and where we profit only from the annual subscription fee that our members pay. MongoDB: What does the tech stack consist pf at a high level? Derek: We’re running on a Jamstack , consisting of a Next.js framework on the front end with deployments handled by Vercel. Our back-end system consists of Node.js services that interact with our MongoDB cluster via an Apollo GraphQL client. MongoDB: How did you decide to start building on MongoDB? Derek: Prior to MongoDB, we used Shopify directly as our pseudo-database, but when we went to launch our membership app, we realized the need to create and manipulate data outside Shopify. There was pressure to launch and test the membership app as quickly as possible, so we tried to find a database system that’s highly performant and easily scalable, yet quick to implement. We needed to start deploying features ASAP, because time was a luxury we didn’t have. That’s where a nonrelational database such as MongoDB helped, because we didn’t need to spend hours upon hours finalizing a data schema with primary and foreign keys first. We were also looking to ingest data from Shopify, so not being bound to a certain table structure allowed us to save time on ETL. We tried hosting a Mongo cluster ourselves at first but quickly realized we needed a fully managed service that could abstract out DevOps for us. Ultimately, that’s why we started using MongoDB’s Atlas solution. MongoDB: As you've grown over the past two years, how has it been working with MongoDB? Derek: The best web services are the ones you set up once and they keep running in the background with minimal upkeep. That’s how I’d describe MongoDB Atlas. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had to log into our dashboard to resolve a database-related issue. When we started, we leaned heavily on MongoDB’s technical support to help answer our questions and triage some of our issues. And of course, the startup credits that came with being a part of the YC alumni network definitely helped, because they provided us the opportunity to test the service out before truly committing and paying for it. MongoDB: As a product lead, what resources do you use to upscale in your job as you grow in your career? Derek: Honestly my engineering peers have been the most valuable resource for me as a product manager. Just from answering my questions and through candid discussions, they’ve taught me more about building products than any bootcamp or college degree ever could’ve. And, as I’ve progressed in my career, I’ve stopped asking them how the software is being built and started asking them instead why the software is being built a certain way. I’ve learned over time that feature limitations often stem from how underlying technologies are selected and implemented. Therefore I’m a firm believer that all successful product managers need a deep understanding of systems design. MongoDB: What is the last good technical book that you read or podcast that you listened to? Derek: Not super technical, but I’m currently listening to All-In with Chamath, Jason, Sacks & Friedberg . It’s refreshing to hear their unfiltered, personal takes on major events in the public and private markets. In terms of more technical reading, Wiley’s textbook Systems Analysis and Design is my reference for anything related to systems design. I’ve also been a huge fan of Glossier’s tech team from the early days and have learned a lot from studying them. This article from an early team member provides an in-depth walkthrough of their data pipeline and shows their deliberate efforts to invest upfront in technology that paid dividends for them later on. MongoDB: Who are some technical mentors that you admire for their technical and product management skills? Derek: We have a large roster of angel investors who are seasoned tech executives and founders at hyper-growth startups, public companies, and everything in between. I won’t name drop them all here, but they’ve all been instrumental to our success to date. We’ve been able to lean on every one of them for advice and mentorship from time to time. Looking to build something cool? Get started with the MongoDB for Startups program.
Built With MongoDB: Memora Health
Built With MongoDB: Go
“Social media was supposed to augment our friendships and give us more to talk about — but it’s actually starting to replace our relationships,” laments Sean Conrad , the co-founder and CEO of Go. After 10 years of working at large tech companies and bootstrapping a multimillion-dollar gaming company, Sean started building Go , a social app focused on helping friends create plans to hang out in person. Combining data science, social networking, and event aggregation, Go provides users with a custom, curated feed of cool things to do and friends to do them with. Go is live in New Zealand and (very recently) Australia with over 40,000 downloads and 500 businesses. The startup has raised $6.7 million in seed funding and has been building with MongoDB from the start. For this edition of #BuiltWithMongoDB, we spoke with Sean about the business, being a second-time founder and CEO, and his experience with MongoDB. MongoDB: You actually started building during the COVID-19 pandemic. How did that impact the product, given that your mission is to bring people together in real life? Sean: It impacted us in so many ways. We researched the space throughout 2019, and started building the app in early 2020, planning for a fall release in Portland or Los Angeles. And then the pandemic hit the United States. We realized it was jokingly bad that we were building an app to bring people together just when social distancing was becoming a requirement. For a month, we contemplated a lot of possible ideas, and we had some cool ones, but our passion was really about making offline connections stronger. We spent the summer working on the product, and then launched in New Zealand because that country had handled the pandemic well and reopened. The product has been a huge success in New Zealand, and after iterating on it, we recently launched in Australia. Our plan is to launch in the United States, starting from Los Angeles, during the summer of 2021. MongoDB: You mentioned that you've used MongoDB before. What has your experience been like with MongoDB as a 2x founder? Sean: At my previous company, we scaled up to about 30 million downloads, and we ran it on MongoDB. We were not database experts, and it was very easy to use. It was 2013 when we started using MongoDB. We had our hiccups and had to learn what indexes were, but we became really comfortable with the platform. For Go, we picked MongoDB out of comfort. When we got started with Go, MongoDB Realm was still in beta. We would’ve used it had it been around, but we built our first product on Firebase Firestore. Firestore ended up being a bit limiting for us because we wanted to build a feed-based system (in Go, it’s showcasing a series of events or things to do that are interesting to you and your friends), so a lot of filters are necessary. That requires many different types of unstructured data that’s difficult to put into a simple schema. Managing these things demands a lot of documents and data duplication, and MongoDB was a good fit for that. We like that Atlas has full-text search built on Apache Lucene , which is a powerful text search library. We are just getting into that. In addition, most of our compute runs on AWS. We use a lot of containerized stuff on AWS, and a little bit of Lambda stuff, and we’re moving to a serverless environment. I’m not sure what the future of Go is, but I’m confident MongoDB will play a part in it. Our mobile app is written in Flutter, Google’s competitor to React Native. We like that quite a bit. MongoDB: What is the last technical podcast you enjoyed? Sean: It’s All About Widgets , a podcast about Flutter. We’ve got a really talented group of developers on our team — two of them are ranked in the top 15 Stack Overflow Flutter contributors! One of our developers Raouf Rahiche spoke on their second episode . It was really cool to hear a team member talking on this podcast. MongoDB: As a second-time founder, what is one thing that was unexpected for you in building this business? Sean: This is the first business in which I’ve raised funding, and I couldn’t have done it without my co-founder, Jesse Berns . For my last business, I started with something small with a few people, found product-market fit, and grew that. With Go, we started with a much more grand vision in mind, so it made sense to operate more like a traditional Silicon Valley startup, raising capital and growing the team quickly. With all startups, you’re operating with very few known facts, but when you raise money everything just tends to get bigger, faster, and I always say this is like ‘operating on hard mode’ — but in our case, it’s worth it. Our goal with Go is to help people manage their friendships in the same way that LinkedIn helps people manage their professional lives, and if we’re successful, that’ll entirely change how people make plans and optimize their friendships for more time together face-to-face. It’s built to inspire us to live our ideal lives, whether that’s basement art shows, unforgettable live music, lunch with friends at a special place that could only exist in your neighborhood, or a slow bike ride down by the river. It’s built for the mundane and the thrilling and everything in between. We’re at a really exciting moment in history where all the trends — adoption of mobile, the upcoming end to the pandemic — are going to enable a culture where people want to find humanity and joy in person, and human-facing tech is going to have a big impact in the next few years. With Go, we’re really excited to be part of that. Looking to build something cool? Get started with the MongoDB for Startups program.