Engineer.ai combines AI with crowdsourced teams of designers and developers to build bespoke digital products faster that it would take to create a team. At least that’s what it says. Last year the company raised one of Europe’s largest Series A investments at $29.5 million, led by Lakestar and Jungle Ventures, with participation from SoftBank’s DeepCore. So far it’s been used to create products like BBC, DiditFor, Manscore and ZikTruck.
Now, while it’s pretty common to have platforms claiming to build your apps faster than a team, actually experiencing it in real life makes a huge difference. So when I swung by the Builder.ai booth at the Slush conference last Friday, I was a lot more impressed than I thought I would be.
At the conference, the company launched Builder Now, an instant prototyping tool that helps anyone design an app in as little as 10 minutes. I honestly did not believe it was possible until I saw it. But, to build an MVP, or even a more sophisticated app, it’s far faster than I could have imagined.
Take building an app like Uber. You select ‘Uber’ on the site and it instantly gives you the 36 features it would take to build a gig-economy app like Uber. Then you go ahead and add other features.
The modern issue is that all founders have a ‘project.’ But then they go from a project to ‘hours of engineering,’ which is totally different.
Builder’s CEO and Co-founder, Sachin Dev Duggal, says they found that 20% of all app features make up 80% of all apps. So by categorizing those and putting them into what is effectively a pick-and-mix store, they could massively decrease the time to build an app.
Builder Now lets a founder explore ideas and show how they can work, before investing time and money into development. It’s fast (I can attest to this having seen it), free to prototype and trims out hours of specification writing and meetings, by letting you try out user journeys.
Dev Duggal, says: “We’re removing one of the biggest bottlenecks, developing a prototype, which enables people to build confidence in their idea before they invest significant time and money.”
As a user builds an app, they see their costs right in front of their face. More features equal higher costs to build, of course. But they can slow down the development to make it cheaper to build.
That spec then goes out to engineers who can see what the client wants, build it and voila!
At a certain level it competes with Gigster, albeit it buys in excess capacity from over 100 dev shops in 10 timezones, as opposed to being a modern-day consulting shop.
It certainly beats building a team, waiting to be assigned a product expert and a design team, sorting out the user flow and creating designs from scratch. The click and play system also lets you share a link to the prototype to gather early feedback.