ShareGroop: Gembani helps early stage startup internalize software development

agilist

Context

ShareGroop was at the end of its rope when its founders asked Gembani to intervene. Their idea was simple: provide a solution to split payments for consumers sharing the purchase of a single product. Their solution integrates directly in the vendor’s website, just like PayPal.

After a year of trying to make a minimum viable software tool they had nothing to show for it. They had initially hired an external software agency to make the product for them, but they seemed to be going nowhere. They realized that the agency had either misled them, or had grossly underestimated the time that they would need to create the product. Either excuse was unacceptable and disastrous to ShareGroop.

The initial error was clear: for any high risk start up, development of the product should be internal. This enables the start-up to fine-tune its requirements for the product as its engineers design and build it. Engineers will have feedback as they attempt to build the vision. That feedback is priceless, and often leads to simpler more elegant solutions. You get none of that feedback when working with an external software agency.

After a year of stagnation they hired a CTO to lead an internal team to create the product. Still no progress after five months because the CTO began by working on infrastructure. A team wide engineering brainstorming session would undoubtedly have revealed that creating an infrastructure to support millions of requests per minute can never come as step one, before there is even one request per minute.

The founders asked Gembani to audit the situation.

How we helped

Gembani paired with the ShareGroop team, audited their existing code, helped train the CTO and set them up with implementing and practicing good “lean startup” habits.

This included, among other things: setting up Pivotal Tracker (great bug Tracker), institutionalizing weekly reviews and encouraging consistent and open conversation between tech and non tech teams

This allowed the founders to significantly reduce the scope of the original product, drastically simplify the workflow and reduce the amount of code necessary to launch the product.

On a more technical level, Gembani wrote the first prototype allowing automated testing. This helped convince the CTO of the value of automatic testing.

Currently the team continues to upgrade the automatic testing environment to meet its evolving needs. Nick, Gembani's CEO, says it's often easier to convince software engineers after a prototype is first running and usable by the team.

Where are we now?

At this stage, ShareGroop has now signed a deal with the Air France and are constantly finding new vendors. Pay by credit card, pay by Paypal and now pay by ShareGroop.

On a human level, the team is more connected. They work better together, and are developing a better product more efficiently.

On a technical level, the team continues to use the practices and infrastructure Gembani originally set up. They continue to implement the pragmatic Gembani rigor.

The team is growing, the CTO has the trust of his co-founders and continues to build and nurture a better software engineering team.

Don't be afraid to ask those who know. Gembani's efficient Sillicon valley mindset still works for us today. Concrete & results driven, Nicholas Stock's experience allowed us to overcome past problems easily by using straight forward solutions adapted to our team.

Richard Kim
CTO Sharegroop