Interviewing Joel Livet from Productive Edge – Top Chicago app developer


Productive Edge is a digital technology agency based in Chicago. They specialise in full-stack enterprise mobile app development and digital transformation. They’ve ranked 10th among the top Chicago app development firms on ContractIQ. Here, we’re speaking to Joel Livet, who is one of the co-founders of Productive Edge. He speaks his mind about Productive Edge, security testing, apps!

Ajay: Can you start off by introducing yourself and about your company, the story behind how it all began and how you got into app development?

Joel: I’m a Managing partner and co-founder of Productive Edge. We started our company about 8 and half years ago as a digital software technology consultancy based in Chicago. We have since expanded and opened offices in Belarus, Ukraine and India to support our onshore/offshore delivery model. Both my co-founder & I come from enterprise backgrounds. In our past roles, we partnered with a lot of technology consulting firms. We saw how they operated, and we believed that we could do it better. Our methodology centres around quality and customer satisfaction, and our approach favours smaller teams of highly skilled resources – these were our initial core principles when we started the company, and they remain our fundamentals today. Since then, we have grown steadily every year. We pride ourselves on our technical depth, creativity and passion for delivering for our clients. We also have a sister company, Think-time, which is a product company that is owned by Productive Edge and has been in development for 4 years. It is sold worldwide to large enterprise retailers, and it’s going to market with version 2.x now and having great success as a powerful retail task management platform..

A: Alright! I could see that you also provide service for security testing. What impact did that have on your customers apart from mobile development?

J: Security is part of everything that we do. It encompasses a spectrum of considerations, from programming best practices that address typical security vulnerabilities – such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting – to mobile-specific security techniques regarding the storage and encryption of local data, the security of the API layers that support our mobile apps, and app authentication. In some of the work we are doing with block-chain technology, we are looking at advanced bio-metric security approaches that will enable a mobile device to securely act as a node within a block-chain network. It’s worth mentioning that as a full-stack mobile development company, our security responsibility does not stop at the mobile client – it comprises the full end-to-end solution, from the client, to the micro-services API layer, to the underlying back-end business logic components – so it’s imperative that we take a holistic view of security concerns across all of these layers. .

A: Great! You must have a lot of experience with mobile app development. Can you tell us about the best project that you have worked so far?

J: We have an extensive mobile portfolio across a wide spectrum of a domains. I wouldn’t highlight one as the best, but I can say that we have developed highly sophisticated apps that push the capabilities of mobile devices. For example, we developed an app for a wellness company that leverages GPS and geofencing, in combination with Four-square integration and a proprietary database of health club location coordinates, to detect the attendance of a user at a fitness club and reward them for their healthy activity. Likewise, as a Xamarin Premier Partner, we have leveraged the power of their cross-platform technology to develop an app that tracks the care provided by caregivers to senior citizens in the Medicare population. As another example, we developed an app that allows the City of Chicago to use imagery and measurements to determine if parking meters are blocked or impeded from functioning properly. This is a very small sampling of the work we have done, but it should give you a sense of the breadth of use cases that we have addressed with our mobile solutions. In general, we find great satisfaction in building apps that improve people’s lives.

A: Yeah it does! So it has been quite a long journey for Productive Edge. What do you think will be the next big change in your company say 3-5 years from now?

J: I hesitate to make a prediction because we are a very dynamic company and we are always re-evaluating ourselves and making pivots to ensure that we remain at the cutting edge of our industry. We are currently seeing significant opportunities to leverage leading portal and CMS platforms to ratchet up our digital transformation and CXM offerings. Likewise, we are bullish on several technologies that have been focus areas for our PE Labs group, and where we see opportunities to provide value to our clients, such as block-chain, virtual reality, and AI. Mobile cuts across several of these areas, but we are specifically excited about our partnership with Xamarin and leveraging Xamarin to deliver powerful native mobile apps much more rapidly and with greater cost effectiveness than traditional mobile development. To support these initiatives, we are likely to continue growing our global team – though for us, quality of resources is far more important than quantity. While I can’t say exactly what the next 3-5 years will hold for us, I can tell you with confidence that it will be exciting and positive.

A: Great! So what is the one thing which you know but wish you knew when you started this company? What expert tip would you like to give an entrepreneur who is about to start his own company?

J: I would say, for one it costs money to start a company. It also takes perseverance, vision and consistency. It is not a get rich quick game and you should invest back into the company because you are always going to have ups and downs. The most common reason companies go out of business is because they run out of capital, so you want to keep building up reserves and not get too high during the good times or too low during the bad times. Just be consistent and persistent.

A: Okay! I have one last question before we could end this interview session. This question will be a little general one. How will you describe an “App” if i knew nothing about it or the market.

J: An app is a piece of software designed to leverage the significant computing power of a mobile device to put unmatched functional power into the hand of a user. Apps have the unique quality of being able to be right in the moment with the user, no matter where they are or what they are doing – so capabilities of a mobile device like GPS and geofencing, or the camera features, or the accelerometer – all present distinct opportunities to empower users and provide them with powerful functionality that traditional software cannot.

A: That’s it from my end. Thanks for your time Joel. All the best.

J: Thank you so much. Have a good day!

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