Highlight delivers customer value while reducing developers' time spent on internal tools

I’m the Co-Founder and Chief Product Technology Officer at Highlight, a two year old technology startup. Highlight is a platform for physical product testing and research and streamlines everything for Consumer Packaged Goods companies from recruit to data set, including all the logistics of getting a product to target customers. Highlight exists to help products exceed the rising bar consumers have for them.

Our challenge: Move fast while staying lean

Highlight is faced with the typical startup conundrum - the balancing act of delivering exceptional results while moving incredibly fast and remaining lean. I manage a team of 25 engineers and product managers and my primary objective is to make the business successful at whatever the cost.

Our Customer Success and Product Operations Teams have historically leaned on our developer team to set up internal tools. While this sort of thing is normal for a startup, I knew it wasn’t sustainable. Developers are really expensive and developers solve important business problems. But, I didn’t want our developers spending time on building Internal tools - I need them focused on building the product. That’s why no code tools, like Internal, are great because we don't have to throw a bunch of money at reinventing a wheel that's been invented 1,000 times before.

Internal delivers exceptional customer service while decreasing developers time spent on internal tools

I was able to build everything we needed in Internal myself despite only knowing a small amount of SQL and Javascript. It was quick and easy. I can build tools in Internal in a matter of minutes and I’m not that technical. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to connect our databases and APIs: GraphQL API, Postgres, and AWS S3. The Customer Success and Product Operations teams at Highlight use Internal in the following ways: 

Provide enhanced levels of customer support/service

If something is wrong with a customer’s data, non-technical users can easily view and fix it. Our software has a certain UI layer that's specialized for our customers and clients to see but there may be additional data or metadata or information that we want be able to provide to our employees, and so building a way to see that data in the database and be able to read, update, edit, delete that sort of data is our simplest use case.

Managing issues we haven't yet built software for

With Internal we are able to manage customer issues that we haven’t yet built features for. I like to describe this as a “behind the scenes manual wizard of Oz” or a manual intervention of data. Without Internal, a developer would be required to do this type of work but with Internal someone on the Customer Success team can go in and conduct those manual workflows. And, the customer's experience can be seamless without them necessarily knowing that there's a human knowledge software in the background. The impact on our business, and ultimately our customers, has been huge. I don't think we would have been able to launch our product and our business as quickly as we have without Internal.

Our results: Significant reduction in developer time spent on internal tools

We have found impactful ROI by using Internal, including:  

Time Savings: 

  • I estimate we saved 100s-1,000s of engineering hours with Internal.
  • Internal’s no-code capabilities have made it a lot faster for us to be able to build, grow, iterate, and provide value to our customers as quickly as possible.

Decreased Cost / Increased Speed to Market: 

  • Cost and speed are greatly improved through no code tools, like Internal.
  • If we didn’t have Internal we would need a whole extra engineering team, like 5-6 engineers, to build and maintain internal tools.

Next steps

I’m already thinking through additional use cases where we can use Internal to continue freeing up developers time so that they can focus on what’s most important: building the best possible product for our customers. 

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