The Content Exchange, or TCE for short, is a new B2B content network. A digital platform where editors, publishers and freelancers directly offer and (re)publish stories, video and audio in an open and honest way. Rights, prices, conditions, and a wealth of valuable content: everything is arranged. That makes TCE unique. And when you say unique, you say Ibuildings. Because Ibuildings like to sink their teeth into challenging, different-than-normal web applications. Joris van Lierop, Managing Director of TCE knows why.
From initial idea to MVP
When the idea matured for a content sharing platform, Joris van Lierop immediately knew who he wanted to do the digital development with. “I have been working pleasantly with Ibuildings for a number of years. They are the preferred builder for me and more than that. Right from the idea phase, we worked together to set the direction and arrive at a Minimal Viable Product (MVP): what should we build as a minimum to make TCE work?”
Ibuildings facilitated brainstorming sessions and polled editorial representatives on their ideas about such a platform and how they wanted to work with it. This was followed by mock-ups to test the feeling of the editors and to get feedback. This resulted in a clearly described MVP and accompanying backlog: a user should at least be able to upload content, store it in a database and take it down. “We deliberately took two, three months for this process. It is the foundation for the entire further development and that has to be solid,” says Joris van Lierop.
For the build, Ibuildings followed its proven agile development process. In bi-weekly sprints, the development team delivered a part of the software each time. The feedback on this - also from editors as future users - was always included in the next sprint. In the pilot phase, some 70 testers were able to turn TCE inside out. Their experiences were also processed, after which the first release went live. That was three months ago now.
From the idea phase onwards
Joris van Lierop looks back on how TCE grew from an idea to a fully-fledged content platform in just over a year and the role of Ibuildings in this. “If you are starting from scratch with just an idea, it is very pleasant to have an open and energetic collaboration with your builder. That they think along with you about the approach; not only during construction, but also beforehand in the testing of the idea. What exactly is the client’s question? Why is it so? What are the priorities? That’s where the real focus lies.”
“Of course there are all kinds of requirements that have to be right,” Van Lierop continues. “Are we staying within budget, is the planning going as expected, what about technical requirements such as security, privacy, speed of the platform? At Ibuildings you notice that they constantly think about all these aspects and include them in their agile approach and building process. In each sprint demo, the development team addressed security, privacy, architecture, performance. Very clear and transparent. That may sound obvious, but I know from experience that it’s far from always the case.”
When developing an innovative platform like TCE, as an entrepreneur you don’t want to have any headaches about the actual build, explains Joris van Lierop. “You need all your energy to focus on the core: what the platform should do for your customers. Ibuildings makes the whole building process seem effortless for you as a client. That’s extremely pleasant. The build itself is never a sticking point or a point of discussion. That’s what you want as an entrepreneur.”
Solid as a rock
Meanwhile, TCE stands like a house. “We never have any problems with performance, speed or login. Everything it’s supposed to do, it just does…. ALWAYS. And that’s really nice. We hear from customers that they really appreciate the user-friendliness. In fact, they can set and adjust everything themselves, such as feeds with interesting topics and themes. But we’ve also made a short instructional video for new users, so they’re quickly on board.”
“I experience working with Ibuildings not as a supplier/customer relationship, but as a partnership. Things like budget, lead time, and other conditions you arrange together in the quotation phase. Once you’ve both signed up, you get to work as equal partners and you look at how you can get the most out of the project together. For me, Ibuildings is a pleasant, no-nonsense company. They just deliver what you need. Do you want more? You can, but they never deliver just for the sake of delivering.”
TCE: the technology
The TCE platform is entirely based on a cloud native infrastructure.
This choice makes it possible to focus entirely on the business requirements and less on the infrastructure. Serverless also has the big advantage that you only pay for what you use. Also the scaling up and down of capacity takes place fully automatically. For example, the hosting costs for the first few months were zero and the infrastructure grew automatically with the growth of (the use of) the platform. For a startup, this was definitely a plus.
The many services were developed in TypeScript and for the serverless part the Serverless Framework was used. The latter facilitates the many configurations needed to deploy this, in our case, on AWS.
In addition, we also use an optimized Elasticsearch search engine to search through tens of thousands of articles very quickly.
Visit the TCE website: https://tce.exchange