A team of mobile app engineers and designers from companies like Rent the Runway, ClassPass, Kickstarter, and others, are now launching their own startup, Runway, to address the common pain points they experienced around the mobile app release cycle. With Runway, teams can connect their existing tools to keep track of the progress of an app’s release, automate many of the manual steps along the way and better facilitate communication among all those involved.
“Mobile app releases are exercises in herding cats, we often say. There’s a lot of moving pieces and a lot of fragmentation across tools,” explains Runway co-founder Gabriel Savit, who met his fellow co-founders — Isabel Barrera, David Filion, and Matt Varghese — when they all worked together as the first mobile app team at Rent the Runway.
“The result is a lot of overhead in terms of time spent and wasted, a lot of back and forth on Slack to make sure things are ready to ship,” he says.
Typically, interdisciplinary teams involving engineers, product, marketing, design, QA and more, will keep each other updated on the app’s progress using things like spreadsheets and other shared documents, in addition to Slack.
Meanwhile, the actual work to prepare for the release is being managed with various separate tools, like GitHub, JIRA, Trello, Bitrise, CircleCI, and others.
The Runway is designed to work as an integration layer across all the team’s tools. Using a simple OAuth authentication flow, the unit connects whichever tools they use with Runway, then configure a few settings that allow Runway to understand their unique workflow — like their branching strategy, how they create release branches,, how they generate release branches, how they create release branches, they tag releases, and so on.
In other words, teams train Runway to understand how they operate — they don’t have to change their own processes or behavior to accommodate Runway.
Once set up, Runway reads the information from the various integration points, interprets it, and takes action. Everyone on the team can log into Runway via its web interface and see exactly where they are in the release cycle and what still needs to be done.
“We’re forming this glue, this connective tissue between all of the moving pieces and the tools, and creating a true source of truth that everybody can refer to and sync or gather around. That really facilitates and improves the level of collaboration and getting people on the same page,” Savit says.