Who We Are

Derby is a small group of people specializing in visual and user experience design, engineering, and the business of app development in Northern NJ. We make beautiful and focused software experiences for the consumer market. Growing from over a decade in the client services space, we take the lessons we’ve learned building award-winning apps and platforms and apply it to a new set of products we want to see come to life.

The Backstory

Derby is essentially a project/brand that we spun out of working at Nickelfish together for so long. Since the very beginning, we’ve always done work for hire–client projects–and we’ve been very fortunate to have grown the business to the point we’re at now. But along the way, we always had ideas for things we’d like to build ourselves and thought ‘wouldn’t it be cool to actually do this?’.

But it’s the same old story. Client work pays the bills and the shoemaker’s children go without shoes, right? We’d shelved so many things, and stopped and started simply because the nature of our business dictated that we give everything we had to our clients to make their work as successful as possible.

Conditions to try something new finally became favorable at the beginning of 2014 to take just such a step. Justin (Nickelfish’s CEO) and Brian (CFO) came to me and asked if it felt like it was something we could do, and I agreed. We identified Dave, who was our CTO (and with whom I’ve always shared an office and worked extremely closely), and me to break off and begin this team. Between the two of us, we felt we could start the planning and management of an independent app development project, but we knew we’d need to pull a few amazing folks in to get the job done. Over the course of getting the company started, we’ve called on some of the best talent we had around us to help us out along the way, with exceptional results.

We created an entirely new design and development plan and a new evaluation funnel to vet ideas and decide what it was we were actually going to build. Some of the ideas we had in the past didn’t make sense anymore based on changes in the app market or device functionality, and some required way more than the number of us we had dedicated to the project to do well. We narrowed it down to a few select ideas and settled on Stringer because it was the one with the broadest appeal out of the gate, and we thought it would make for the best case study for us to learn the process of building, marketing, and releasing our own software for the first time.

It’s a strange sensation: you’ve gone through this process many times with clients, and you feel like you know it inside and out. But when your idea is driving it, the entire thing becomes a very different animal. You focus on things that you wouldn’t have had time to previously. You become obsessed with the tiniest details. You have intense discussions about the direction, focus, and personality of the thing you’re building. You have fun, because it’s *your* idea for the first time.

It’s terrifying and wonderful. We hope you like what’s come of it.