Written By
John Davison, CTO
StartupLandia Case Studies

Case Study for Featured Customer

Restructuring a spaghetti codebase and engineering a new software foundation

Executive Stats:

  • Moved all paper aspects of the company core process to digital
  • Transform a fractured codebase into functional codebase
  • Brought on as a full time developer
  • Design and built invoicing engine
  • Reworked a computer vision approval process function in 3 months time

The mission of HappiLabs is to provide scientists a solution to their biggest problem. Their biggest problem is purchasing laboratory equipment. The problem is complex and many scientists wish they didn't have to manage it. Purchasing laboratory equipment has many layers, including product research, searching for the equipment, getting a great price for the equipment, and getting the equipment delivered safely. HappiLabs was on a mission to take over many of the small mundane aspects of managing a biotech lab. HappiLabs had a dream, but their biggest roadblock was their non-functional codebase. Their original design was that they were building a very simple web dashboard that looked like a feed of orders. In that feed you could find information on what the order contained and when the order would arrive. The HappiLabs team of internal operations specialists, usually former scientists themselves, would enter data into the feed as remote laboratory managers. The major problem was that this software didn't function well and HappiLabs employees ended up using slower manual processes instead of their software.

"The mission of HappiLabs is to provide scientists a solution to their biggest problems."

Encountering non-functional codebases is always an exciting proposition for us at StartupLandia. It gives us the opportunity to help a company cross a major hurdle. StartupLandia learned the code and set up a strategy to finish the job. The codebase was already written in Ruby On Rails but used some more exotic tools like Relay, Graphql and React. Graphql was not necessary for this project, but using our expertise we determined it would be more expensive to start the codebase over, instead of fixing the discrepant code. StartupLandia avoids incurring the extra expenses of starting projects from the beginning, with a little research and much creativity, codebases can almost certainly be corrected and turned functional. The correction on HappiLabs' codebase would take only 8 weeks and saved them time and money.

With a little research and much creativity, codebases can almost certainly be corrected and turned functional.

StartupLand was successful in fixing HappiLabs' codebase in three months time. HappiLabs was able to move forward and was using their own custom software stack to help scientists save time and money. Their mission is fulfilled and they can continue improving the pace at which scientists can focus on their experiments and not managing purchases for their labs.

Our work for HappiLabs was so well received we were invited back in 2019 to become HappiLabs' full time developer team for an upgrade and rebuild of the software. In 2019, we were commissioned to build much more in-depth and technical tools that incorporate an ios app and sophisticated machine vision tools to read images taken of items, paperwork, and material safety data sheets. StartupLandia also advised and built a detailed invoicing engine that allows for much more variable revenues. The C.E.O. of HappiLabs understood that invoicing was a choke point for themselves. Through diligent studies we determined building a new invoicing engine should be our next project. He estimates that for complicated labs that used to take an entire day of the CEO's time, he can accomplish the same task in 30 minutes to an hour. In addition to standard engineering services, StartupLandia also enabled top quality design services for HappiLabs. Design services are something that the HappiLabs founder considers to be a major form of customer service.

other aspects of engineering and product skill that StartupLandia utilized on HappiLabs V2 tools include complex user role permissions, so that many different types of employees can have access to many different types of actions, all of which are automated and tested in the browser using headless Selenium specs and united tested in ruby/rspec at the data model/database level. Another very useful set of features that were built was the ability to perform complex calculations around order approval, thereby allowing for complex mappings of order values and mandated standard operating procedures user role approvals are enforced. All of these services including an app and web server that can read and process the text of images, were built from the ground up in V2 of HappiLabs virtual lab manager support tools, all of which were built by StartupLandia in less than 1 year (April 2019 - Mar 2020).

All of these services including an app and web server that can read and process the text of images, were built from the ground up ... less than 1 year (April 2019 - Mar 2020).

In January or 2015, when HappiLabs had just started, they had monthly revenues in the 10-20k range. Fast forward to March of 2020, after getting accepted into the prestigious Y-Combinator program (Winter 2018), HappiLabs has processed multi-millions worth of equipment and become a successful business. HappiLabs helps 40+ customers impact over 350 scientists' missions all of which is managed by a team of less than 20 people and the software tools we built them. StartupLandia has built most of the technology that HappiLabs uses for its day to day operations. The software also helps manage the entire technical picture including StartupLandia team designers, developers and other external contract developers. Tom Ruginis has expressed that he likes StartupLandia's work because it is fast, problem oriented and communication with our team is direct and well structured. One of HappiLabs' customers, the CEO of EpiBiome says about HappiLabs service, "Very reliable and keeps our scientists happy. I'd cut payroll before I cut HappiLabs."

"I like StartupLandia's work because it is fast, problem oriented, and communication with our team is direct and well structured".

Tom Ruginis, CEO HappiLabs