Agile · MVP Development

What would you founders say about this software development model?

Sumit Datta Failed entrepreneur, software architect, consultant

February 13th, 2018

Dear founders,


I recently quit my job, and I am back into entrepreneurship role. I do not have much funds to keep everything together so I run a small software consultancy on the side.


I am an agile bitch and thus I have the following in mind:

* Focus on (super) early stage founders/products

* Projects would work with 1 or 2 week sprints

* Sprint grooming regularly between me and founders

* We create Epics (broad product topics), Tasks (small, focused, actionable)

* Tasks have a negotiated price - mix of business value and technical complexity

* Sprint planning to start next sprint - this is a commitment on tasks

* Demo (Sprint Review) will happen at the end of the sprint

* Founders pay only for tickets deployed to staging server at end of sprint


Context: Founders want to move fast without long term financial lock-ins. Founders continuously measure & iterate the product. If the sprint does not start, for lack of clarity, there is no payment commitment.


What would you founders feel about such a model? Would you try it yourself or recommend to someone else?


About me:

I have worked with 9 startups (mostly early stage) over 12 years, so I know the pains of getting from 0 to 1st or say 3rd gear.


Looking forward to your thoughts,

Sumit Datta

David Pariseau

February 13th, 2018

The thing that's always difficult to control in such arrangements is the quality of the deliverables. If the deliverables meet the target criteria but are unsupportable you eventually reach a point where you have so much spaghetti that it becomes impossible to build on it or support it. Also, any criteria that has complex deliverables should include the scaffolding to test and validate it, I imagine that's part of the deliverable. For me, my main concern with using outside services is getting quality people that deliver quality products. If the deliverables are a bit late (due to scope creep or addressing issues that arise during development) I'm typically fine with that as long as they yield a quality product. Getting something "on time" that meets a short-term goal but that becomes a nightmare long-term is for me, always a worry. Hopefully you find a way to address that with your offerings.

Chaitanya Nijhara I like solving meaningful problems!

February 13th, 2018

I really like this model. I've done this in the past with freelancers: Pay per task / project at a pre-negotiaoted price, usually small enough so that it can be completed by 1 dev in a couple of weeks. Then, based on the quality of the deliverable, I take a call on whether to re-hire them or move on.

Andy Dent Founder & CEO Touchgram, multi-platform developer 30+ years, 90's C++ dev tools publisher

February 16th, 2018

I have a friend who mostly works in that manner, running a small Chinese offshore team. I have seen him make that model work very well.

I know he's had problems with at least one startup founder because they felt there was too much lock-in with two week sprints and they were poor at specifying design. They wanted him to cover the cost of fixing problems that occurred because of their sloppy specification. They also had an unrealistic view of the costs and ease of automated testing of native mobile apps based on their experience with a website. In the end, he walked away from them despite them having fairly decent funding.

martin webb Founder, Developer, CEO Tudodesk.com

February 15th, 2018

Can you drop me a mail martin@tudodesk.com

Rich Cleeve CEO of Codestream, helping startups build great products

February 16th, 2018

Are you doing the work yourself or do you have a team? I think you'll end up spending too much time on price negotiation and billing. Also a sprint might not be ready to start for reasons outside of your control but you would still be incurring costs.


Another way to do it would be to charge per sprint with an agreed number of story points.