The answers to all your burning questions.
While you can find a nice timeline about us on our about page, below are some more details about FrogSlayer’s history and ownership.
FrogSlayer was founded in 2005 by Ross Wright, whose mission was to grow the next generation of software developers through real-world project experience. With a background in oil and gas, he set up shop at Texas A&M University (in College Station, TX), about 90 miles from Houston. He created a student-friendly environment, began recruiting A&M’s best computer science students, and delivered projects for oil and gas clients with his student-based team.
Six years later, in 2011, Ross Morel started his firm, Morelco Technologies, in College Station. Morelco was focused on helping Texas A&M researchers commercialize research and technology. Like FrogSlayer, Morelco’s team was made up of mostly students, giving them the opportunity to work on real-world projects. After a year of partnering on various deals, Morelco merged FrogSlayer in 2012, and rebranded under FrogSlayer. In January of 2013, Ross Morel took full ownership of the company.
Since 2013, FrogSlayer has focused on building and maintaining custom software for small and mid-size businesses. While the business model is no longer based on “student outsourcing,” there’s still a strong sense of responsibility to hire budding engineers from Texas A&M and grow them through mentorship and apprenticeship.
FrogSlayer’s CEO, Ross Morel, owns 100% of the firm and is actively involved in the day-to-day operations and management of FrogSlayer. Ross’ leadership style places a priority on (1) serving those who serve our clients and (2) building trust with every interaction.
FrogSlayer has been debt-free and profitable since day one and remains that way today. Since 2013, FrogSlayer has seen average year-on-year revenue growth of just over 40%. We’ve achieved this by pursuing a diversified client base, long-term relationships with our clients, and expanding our services outside of Texas. As a rule of thumb, no one client ever represents more than 15% of FrogSlayer’s revenue at any time.
We’re very proud to be adding good-paying technology jobs to our local community and working with clients across the US. You can find out more details about the recognition we’ve received for our growth by visiting our about page.
You can easily describe FrogSlayer’s clients as the following:
The companies we work with come from many different industries: legal technology, financial services, insurance, healthcare, oil and gas, energy management, K-12 education, political polling, fleet management, third-party logistics, real estate, and more.
Below are some quick facts about our clients:
With over 500 inquiries a year for new projects, not including requests from our current clients, we select new clients and projects carefully. It’s important to us that the value we bring will significantly exceed the fees we charge.
Our culture is best described as open, friendly, and fast-paced.
A healthy culture is incredibly important to everyone at FrogSlayer. While our culture is influenced by every new person we hire, it’s built on the foundation of our core values and core purpose. We believe if your core is strong then you don’t need lots of processes, procedures and rules in place. In general, if we take care of our clients and each other then the rest will take care of itself.
Our core purpose, or the reason FrogSlayer exists is to create life changing opportunities through technology. Some examples of this include:
Our core values permeate our very way of thinking and doing things on a daily basis. They include:
Dedication to every person’s long-term success.
Solutions that are meaningful to those we serve.
Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships.
We’re not “order-takers” and we don’t just “build-to-spec.” We actively engage in finding the best solution and owning projects, end-to-end. Our reputation has been built on quick delivery and spot-on solutions.
We’re best suited for these types of engagements or relationships:
We don’t do the following:
To date, we have ~40 people dedicated to client projects.
All our people get paid to learn and share. This includes reading relevant books, going to industry conferences, attending and speaking at local meetups.
We regularly hold lunch ‘n learns at the office so our people can learn from each other. We also pay for every employee, at any time, to attend training courses on Scrum, project management, engineering best practices, good design, and business strategy.
Our FT people bill an average of 30-35 hours of their time per week.
FrogSlayer receives over 200 new applicants a month.
Our vetting process includes 4 steps:
1. Coding Exercise – this weeds out about 80% of all applicants
2. Best-Fit Phone Interview
3. Reference Check
4. In-Person Interview
We’ve interviewed more than 1,300 candidates in order to find the group of people we work with today.
When hiring developers, we focus on finding people who (1) would program even if it wasn’t their job, (2) can learn and apply new, or foreign, concepts quickly under pressure and (3) have a strong grasp of computer science fundamentals.
Naturally, different people have different interests. Over time, each person becomes “T-shaped,” developing their own specialty in one area (ex: security or front-end or SQL optimization). This means that collectively, our team is fluent in many languages, technology stacks, and specialties.
This is not something we do unless it’s for an official security clearance. When resumes of team members are requested, this is a red flag that our prospective client would really prefer a staffing relationship. As mentioned above, this is something we try to avoid. Rest assured, you’ll have interactions with many different team members before we actually begin work on your project. If you’re not excited about your team before we begin work, then we’re likely not a good fit for you.
We always conduct an initial call to ensure that we’re a good fit. Things we look for are: a responsible budget, a clear vision and direction, and a full commitment to the project.
Absolutely. We believe checking references is an important part of the buying process. We usually send over references after we determine that we’re a good fit for you and your project.
We will not sign an NDA before our initial call. It’s important that we know enough about the business to evaluate whether there’s a conflict with our current or past clients. In addition, we talk to over 500 potential new clients a year. It’s inevitable that we hear similar ideas.
We will only sign an NDA if:
1. It’s mutual or bilateral (we typically use ours)
2. We understand the requirements of the project and believe that the project and client are a good fit for FrogSlayer
3. We are not violating any other agreements that we have as a company
Short answer – not likely. We’ve got a whole blog post explaining why, but here’s the short version:
• The requirements in RFPs are often extremely detailed, but usually lack any business context.
• The probability of this document containing the optimum feature set is extremely low.
• By agreeing to respond to an RFP, we are relying 100% on someone else’s ability to capture the correct requirements. The right features are better learned by the project team through user interviews, mockups, prototyping, releasing actual software, and getting feedback from real users.
• This contract style sets the client and consultant working against each other right from day one.
As you might have guessed, we don’t do fixed-bid proposals. When we are approached with RFPs, we politely decline and use that interaction as an opportunity to educate the prospective client about why RFPs are not a good fit for custom software projects.
Absolutely. We always start with a live demo of the system and then a code audit. Once we complete the audit, we send you a full report that includes: analysis, recommendations, proposal for takeover (if applicable).
Who owns the code and designs FrogSlayer produces during the project? You do. Before we work, we’ll put a services agreement in place that will assign ownership of all work product and deliverables to you as long as we’re paid for the services we perform.
Most clients are never ready for development when they come to us. It’s important that we take the time upfront to help you determine the right thing to build and a responsible budget for your project. Learn more about our pre-project consulting process.
If new software – we’ll work with you through our pre-project consulting process to size up your project and then move forward with a Research, Design & Planning engagement. After RDP, we’ll begin development of your software. You’ll be involved every step of the way.
Read more here about our process.
Yes, we are always evaluating new projects. The pre-project consulting process takes ~2 weeks. Our Research, Design & Planning phase takes 4-6 weeks. Development begins after that.
The typical size for each project team is 2-3 developers. Each project team is supported by UI/UX designers, software testers, managers, and cloud engineers. With each development team sharing support resources, we’re able to reduce project costs for clients. We’re also able to make developers more efficient by ensuring they spend their time writing production-level code, not messing with other tasks.
Each team is assigned a Project Lead, a full-time developer on the team who has additional responsibilities for facilitating communication and planning with the client and amongst the team.
Communication between project teams and clients is not limited to interactions with the Project Lead. Every member of the FrogSlayer team is empowered to communicate with our clients. It’s common for phone calls and emails to be exchanged throughout the work week between FrogSlayer teams and their clients.
Every project team at FrogSlayer is assigned to a team email (ex: firstname.lastname@example.org). Below is a summary of all formal communication methods that will occur throughout the project:
|Weekly Status Update||Outline the following: what was worked on last week, what’s happening this week, any questions/issues, status of the project|
|Weekly Call||This should be a standing call every week that’s scheduled upon kick-off. The purpose to touch base and talk through any issues, get answers to questions, check-up on action items, or gather feedback.|
|Release Notice||This is an email notice sent by the Team Lead or PM to the Client outlining what’s happened since the last build and what’s ready for testing and feedback.|
Projects fail for one major reason – poor communication. Establishing communication and planning rhythms is the most important aspect of software project management. These rhythms include:
Our project management practices are centered around a “no surprises” philosophy that keeps everyone informed at all times and attacks risks as they emerge.
Short answer – everyone. Every person on our teams are empowered to communicate with clients directly. These keeps things moving along and helps retain our flat organization structure.
We expect clients to be actively involved in their projects. You are the one bringing the expertise about your business and market to the table. Without that, we have no idea if we’re building the right thing. Involvement includes weekly calls or meetings and availability via phone during normal business hours.
Client feedback is incredibly important throughout the process. You should always provide feedback, even early-on when the features are still rough. Your feedback will offer us context about what’s important to you and your business. This helps us prioritize and stay tied to your needs.
Yes. This kind of flexibility is important and could determine the success of a project, but big changes after kick-off might affect budget or schedule.
Yes. We believe open, transparent communication is the cornerstone to successful software projects. You’ll always know what’s happening on your project and you’ll be in constant contact with your team. It’s not unusual for our Project Leads to call their clients several times a week. We also provide weekly status updates and regular releases on a staging site to keep you in the loop.
Software is rarely “done.” We know that our clients and their users will continue to have great ideas throughout the process and after the initial delivery. As your business changes, your software will need to evolve and adapt.
It’s common after the first release to pause on building features for a bit and focus on enhancements or fixes to drive user adoption.
QA staff is involved from the Day 1 and test plans are put together at the beginning of projects. Testing happens throughout the project, not just at the end. We also practice code reviews and pair programming to ensure that quality code is being written at all times.
FrogSlayer teams get incredible leverage from open source tools, libraries, frameworks and indeed entire projects or our own proprietary libraries. We never reinvent the wheel when there is a tool that is suitable for solving a problem. We always program from scratch the parts that make your project custom and valuable.
We use a private, internal GitLab repository to store and manage all of our project source code. We use Git for source control and Jenkins for continuous integration. All of this helps us make deployment easier.
We also have a standard way of deploying to different “tiers” as outlined below.
|QA Tier||appname-qa.URL.com||Project Lead will merge together the team’s code and push everything here. At this point, work is ready for testing by FS QA team or automated tests will run against whatever is pushed.|
|DEMO Tier||appname-demo.URL.com||Once FS QA has approved work on the QA deployment, the Project Lead will push the approved branch here. At this point, work is ready for testing and feedback from the Client.|
|PROD Tier||appname.URL.com||Once Client has approved work on the DEMO deployment, the Project Lead will push the approved branch here. At this point, new features are released to live users.|
FrogSlayer’s clients are diverse, but we’re generally the best fit for large, complex projects that have the potential to create a lot of value for our clients. In other words, if your project is critical to the mission of your business then it’s likely a good fit. We enjoy taking on projects where user experience is critical and one or more of the technology domains of web, mobile, embedded, or desktop are required.
Our projects run from a few months to a year or more. Some have a budget of $50k and others have budgets of over $1 million.
Many of the projects we do fit in one of the buckets below. There are exceptions, of course, but these are common.
|Common Projects||Ballpark Figures||Ballpark Schedules|
|Research, design and planning engagement||$15k to $75k||2 to 6 weeks|
|Proof of concept, prototype or demo software||$35k to $70k||1 to 2 months|
|Web or mobile utility (does a few simple things well)||$50k to $100k||2 to 3 months|
|User-facing web or mobile app with UX emphasis or the first phase of a complex project||$150k to $400k||4 to 7 months|
|Complex, multi-phase, multi-platform product||$300k to $1M+||6 to 12 months|
Custom software development is a big investment. We’ll help you mitigate risk, make smart trade-offs, and get the maximum value for your budget.
Examples of typical projects for us are:
• Code Review – 2 people, 1 week
• Research, Design & Planning engagement – 3 people, 4 weeks
• Idea to Version 1 – 3 people, 3-5 months
• Proof of Concept – 2 people, 1 to 2 months
• Project Rescue – varies
• Dedicated Team – retainer per month
• Fill a gap until an internal team is hired – 2 people, 3 months
• Staff augmentation with existing internal team – 3 people, 6 months
On many occasions, we’ve done projects for clients who have just enough budget for a “Version 1.” They spend some time getting familiar with the software and come back for another round of design and development with a more informed sense of where the software needs to go.
We can’t answer this question responsibly until we understand your idea, business, market, users, etc. While we can’t tell you exactly what your project will cost, we can draw on the 100+ projects we’ve delivered since 2005 and tell you what’s typical for the projects we’re best suited to help you with.
While it’s really hard to know the specific costs of the project without going through a discovery phase like our Research, Design, and Planning phase, we can usually help you set a responsible budget during before you ever hire us.
It’s also important to keep in mind that most projects get broken up into multiple phases. During the first phase of development, our goal is always to focus on the highest value features and architect something that sets us up for future phases.
No matter how large or small your budget, it’s always our goals for the value our clients receive to significantly exceed the fees we charge.
A typical small team for the projects we work on is two to three full-time developers. A large team is four to six people.
For a rough approximation of project duration, we take the estimates above and divide by 32 hours for each person on the team. For example, a 1200-hour project takes approximately 3 months of calendar time for a team of 3 people (1200 hours / (3 people * 32 hours/person/week) / 4 weeks/month = ~ 3 months).
On large projects, we’re able to add people and go faster. That’s quite an amazing thing, actually, and not something every team or company can do. Growing the team requires we have additional employees available
For projects that have a total fixed budget, we track and bill by the hour. We feel this is the most straightforward way to bill. If someone is out sick then you don’t pay for their time. In turn, this also helps ensure that everyone (including clients) are focused on the most valuable features at any given time as opposed to encouraging scope creep. It takes everyone’s awareness of the budget and how we’re tracking to keep the project on-target.
For projects that have a total monthly budget, we still track hours to ensure that we hit the mark each and every month. For more details about pricing or engagement models, you can see our pricing and packages here.
When paying for custom software, you should have the mindset of paying a team to design and develop the first instance of a product. Custom software projects are ripe with risk, including: building the right product, funding and schedule risks, third-party integrations, and technical approaches that need to be proved out.
Remember, you are paying your team to help you mitigate these risks, not to financially own them. Each sprint or release is not a guarantee of a finished, bug-free product.
However, we do have standards and best practices in place that encourage each team to do their best to build a high-quality product.
We encourage our clients to embrace bugs, embrace risks, and know that we will do everything we can to address both. Your team will track bugs and work them into the schedule each week with other backlog item.
Our teams are smart and experienced; they do their best at predictably building your product. With each iteration, we’ll take what we’ve learned and quickly your team integrate new insights to keep quality high.
Be aware that the financial risk of developing custom software is in your hands. A warranty doesn’t come from your development team, but it’s what you will offer to your customers and employees. Taking on the financial risk is why you have such a potentially significant financial upside.
When billing by the hour, we invoice once a month in arrears. Ex: On February 1st, you’ll receive an invoice for the hours logged January 1st to 31st . Payment is due within 10 days.
When billing for a dedicated team, payment is due in advance for that month’s team. Ex: On February 1 st, you’ll pay for the month of February.
Our rates vary over time, but we try to keep our blended rate between $125/hour to $140/hour.
Experience. Speed of delivery. Track record. Demand. Talent. The overall software market.
Yes. Our engagements are “fixed budget, scope controlled” meaning we’ll help you develop a responsible budget and we’ll stick to it. Since we’ve never worked with people who have fewer ideas than they have money or time, our job is to figure out the best possible software application we can build for the given budget. That requires thoughtful understanding of the users and the market. From there, we’ll work to control the scope of the project, both in depth (polish, refinement, complexity) and breadth (features, functionality).
We guarantee cost. In an industry that’s infamous for cost overruns and low-ball bids, we go to great lengths in our upfront process to de-risk projects. This efforts produces spot-on solutions, accurate estimates, and successful relationships. If we underestimate something then we’ll eat 100% of the additional cost until we’re back on track. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.
We also guarantee that you can cancel anytime. By putting the power of termination in our clients’ hands, it ensures we’re held accountable each and every step of the way.
We boast a 96.5% success rate in an industry where 42% is the norm. Communication, tight regular feedback loops, and staying lean have attributed to our high degree of success and reputation of quick, spot-on solutions.
Yes, we have had a handful of projects fail in our history. In every case, the failure could be attributed to communication issues that included:
• Not fully understanding the scope of the project
• Misalignment with what was being built versus what was needed
• Lack of client and team communication throughout the project
In the event of each failure, we ate the full cost of the project until it was back on track. We know this was the right thing to do.
After taking our lumps, we improved our processes and our training. Some improvements include:
• Creation of our highly successful Research, Design & Planning phase
• Multi-point estimation methods that put an emphasis on risk
• A more thorough 60-day onboarding process with all new employees
• Mandatory Scrum training for all new employees
FrogSlayer has a broad skillset, which gives us the power to explore options and select the best languages, platforms, and tools for each job. We do about 80% of our work with these:
• Web – Python (Django, Flask), ASP.NET Core (C#), PHP, Node.js, ReactJS, AngularJS, HTML5, Bootstrap, Sass
• Mobile – iOS, Android, Cordova
• Desktop – Java, Microsoft WPF (C#)
• Embedded – C, C++
• Database – PostgreSQL, SQL Server, MySQL
Yes, we do. Assuming your project does not require advanced polling or data processing, we usually use Cordova to target both platforms with the same core code. This dramatically cuts down on development time and costs.
There’s a list of some recent clients on our website. Unfortunately, because of confidentiality constraints, we can’t share project details until we know there’s a good fit and we get a mutual NDA in place. At that point, we’ll send over portfolio work and a complete list of references.
Yes, all of our projects are architected with an API layer.
Yes, we’ve handled HIPAA compliance on several large-scale, multi-year projects in the healthcare space and PCI compliance is something we handle regularly since 80% of our projects involve the processing, transmission or storage of credit card data. FrogSlayer is also a certified Authorize.net development partner.
Upon request, we can provide our entire security and compliance package that details our policies and practices in regard to data handling, security, and all other safeguards. This even includes all policies related to our hosting packages.
Yes. We have a private cloud on both AWS and Azure that we host and manage our clients’ applications on. We host and manage products that thousands of users rely on every day. Uptime in our production environments has never been an issue.
Yes. Upon request, we can provide our entire security and compliance package that details our policies and practices in regard to data handling, security, and all other safeguards. This even includes all policies related to our hosting packages.
While no one is ever entirely secure, we take pride in the fact that none of our clients have ever been taken down by an attack and that our network has never been breached.
We’ve never been faced with an emergency recovery situation, but we do perform nightly backups to assist in quick recoveries. In some cases, we backup data every few hours. Our recovery response time is less than 24 hours.
Have a question? Send it to us and we’ll be sure to get back to you within 24 hours.
FrogSlayer provides growing companies with the custom software tools they need to accelerate growth and become the technology or data leader in their industry.