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Gemini Solutions Helps Yummly Develop #1 Recipe Apps for Mobile
Founded in 2009, Yummly is the leading innovator in recipe search and discovery. The company applies proprietary technology to understand food and taste built upon mapping the food genome. Yummly leverages this technology to build an unparalleled user experience with features such as personalized recommendations, semantic and contextual search, and a smart shopping list. The apps are known for advanced personalization and guiding users how to cook in a fun, easy way, even when they are short on time. Over 33 million registered users turn to Yummly for recipes and inspiration.
Yummly began designing its mobile recipe apps in 2013. Nearly half of Yummly’s traffic was coming from mobile devices, and the company recognized that the Yummly community would highly value having their recipe ideas and smart shopping lists available anytime, anywhere. With recipes and shopping lists at the ready on their mobile devices, users would be able to access their recipes on the go, receive inspiration based on contextual factors, and seamlessly transition to purchasing via shopping list or ecommerce.
CEO Brian Witlin and his product and design teams focused on creating mobile apps that featured the beautiful design and user-friendly interface that Yummly was known for. “To achieve the quality experience we were striving for, we knew we’d be pushing the boundaries of what mobile platforms can do,” Witlin said. “Providing sophisticated technology with great design, innovative mobile user experiences, and ease-of-use with limited real estate is not an easy task.” Yummly planned to develop an app for the iPhone first, followed by apps for the iPad and Android platforms.
To create the Yummly mobile apps, the company needed to quickly mobilize a dedicated group of premier software developers to supplement its California-based technical staff. “We realized that the time and expense associated with building out a cohesive team of in-house experts made that option impractical,” Witlin said. “Nevertheless, we sought software developers whose caliber rivaled top Silicon Valley talent, people creating cutting edge apps for mobile.” The team had been disappointed by previous outsourcers and believed that a traditional outsourcing relationship was inappropriate for Yummly.
“Historically, outsourcing offshore has created more problems than solutions for us. Often in the contracting world, we found that the teams abroad didn’t have loyalty to their company, resulting in high turnover. This made it difficult for us to find a true extension of our team, both in terms of creating trust and especially in terms of productivity.
“The nature of our work is tight deadlines and if one person can’t be depended on, that’s not going to work. Our mobile initiatives were a top priority for us, and we couldn’t risk finding ourselves in that situation,” said Witlin.
In addition, the Gemini software developers abroad needed to have a stellar rapport with Yummly’s in-house design and developer teams. “We pride ourselves on thinking critically to solve thorny problems quickly, and anyone on our team needs to have that same resolve,” Witlin said. “The Gemini team all live and breathe the app. Numerous product updates have been a direct result of their personal experience and feedback.”
Gemini Solutions came recommended by one of Yummly’s investors. Gemini’s Romanian-based software developers were reputed to be highly skilled, detail-oriented, and focused on quality.
“Our search for an extension of our team was about finding the best talent possible, regardless of where they were in the world. We found Gemini’s team to be excellent, and it was a culture match right away,” Witlin commented. The average developer at Gemini has been with the company for more than six years -- a very long time in this industry.
Gemini executive presence in the U.S. made a difference to Witlin. “It’s a great advantage to have Gemini’s CEO Theo Nissim right here in Silicon Valley. He understands the constant challenges emerging technology companies deal with on a daily basis, particularly when it comes to recruiting.”
Witlin added that Theo has the ideal outsourcing model focused on skilled talent, collaborative product development, and long-term partnerships.
In May 2013, Gemini rapidly deployed a team of experts dedicated to building a native Yummly app for the iPhone. Collaboratively, Yummly and Gemini addressed the many challenges associated with building a highly customized mobile app that delivers sophisticated animations and parallax images at very high speed.
“We started developing mobile apps from scratch,” said Witlin. “It’s a small team, so it was imperative that we all understood how to be iterative and collaborative in our work style. In the beginning, two Gemini software engineers worked on the app, collaborating with one person from the Yummly product team and one person from the Yummly mobile team. The group worked four months nonstop to develop the initial Yummly app for iOS. Since then, we have worked around the clock with them to build additional features.”
The successful partnership that built the iPhone app continued with development of apps for the iPad and Android devices. Specialists were added to the team to address challenges specific to the Android platform, for example, and others were added to perform quality assurance testing. “Yummly has a strong record of releasing high-quality software every few months versus constant releasing and bug fixing, and Gemini’s efforts have helped us maintain our reputation for quality,” Witlin added.
Today, Gemini and Yummly’s combined engineering team has six people focusing on iOS, six people working on Android, and four working on QA. The time difference between the U.S. and Romania works to Yummly’s advantage, since they can hand off projects as night falls and trust that Gemini will handle the next phase of a project by the time the Yummly team wakes up.
“Under extremely tight deadlines, Gemini has been indispensable when it comes to completing a project, and then just as quickly, pivoting to the next project,” Witlin commented.
The Yummly app for iPhone was released in September 2013 and quickly ascended to become the top recipe app. The iPad app followed in March 2014, and the Yummly app for Android was released in November 2014. The Yummly app for the iPhone was selected for inclusion in the App Store Best of 2014, which celebrates the year’s most innovative and entertaining apps and games. Yummly now has more than 30 million registered users.
“We think that a major reason why people love the apps is that they look great and work well,” Witlin commented. “When we develop software, we dedicate the creativity, brainpower, time, and effort to get it right the first time. Gemini shares our focus on quality, and the results speak for themselves.”
Whirlpool Corporation acquired Yummly in the spring of 2017 with the goal to strengthen its position as a leader in building the connected kitchen. This vision has come to life with the launch of Guided Cooking, allowing users to send recipes to their Whirlpool brand smart oven and set and change temperature, settings, cook time and more, directly from the app. Yummly developed hundreds of these step-by-step guided video recipes to seamlessly connect to these Whirlpool ovens.
After the acquisition, the Gemini team was tasked with developing this cutting-edge mobile IoT technology. They seamlessly managed building the foundation to link the Yummly app with appliances to bring Guided Cooking to life.
The acquisition by Whirlpool gave Yummly an increased budget, resulting in Yummly’s first face-to-face meeting with the Gemini team in Romania in 2018. “It was amazing for the two teams, which over the years had become more like friends, to finally meet in person as opposed to speaking via video chat,” Witlin said.
“When we develop software, we dedicate the creativity, brainpower, time, and effort to get it right the first time. Gemini shares our focus on quality, and the results speak for themselves.”- Brian Witlin, CEO