Sharegroop: Gembani helps early stage startup internalizes development



Sharegroop, a startup with a good idea, 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 vendors. Aiming for the the ever increasing web buyer market (consumers of products bought online) and travel websites, your customer would be able to buy products or tickets in a single transaction, sharing the initial payment with more then one person online.

The problem was that after a year of trying to make a minimum viable product, they still had nothing. To start, they had hired an external agency to make the product for them. The agency seemed to be getting nowhere. They realized that it had either purposefully misled them, so as to justify asking for more money later, or they had simply grossly underestimated the time that they would need. It didn’t matter which.

Their first mistake was clear: when you are in a high risk start up, development of the product should be internal. The needs and structure of the future product are very difficult to predict as it is developed.

After a year of stagnating, they decided to hire a CTO to lead an internal team to try create the product. Another four months went by, and still nothing. They are running out of time, and realize that they need to find a more communicative team, a more experienced team, and that’s when we came in.

How we helped

Nicholas Stock, the head of Gembani, integrated himself into the Sharegroop team, looked at their base coding, found them a new viable CTO, and set them all up with good “lean startup” habits.

In light of what they were trying to accomplish, he set everyone up on Pivotal Tracker (coding iteration platform). He institutionalized weekly reviews and encouraged consistent and open conversation between tech and non tech.

This enables the founders to significantly reduce the scope of the original product, drastically simplifying the workflow and reducing the amount of code necessary to launch the product.

On a more technical level Nick contributes code to the automating testing infrastructure of the company. Nick leads by example; he loves the theory of agile and waste management. He likes to get his hands dirty in order to help instill the optimal approach to writing software. He says it's often easier to convince software engineers once a prototype is there running and usable by the team.

Where are they now?

At this stage, Sharegroop has now signed a deal with the flight company Airfrance and are constantly finding new vendors to integrate their solutions with. Pay by credit card, pay by Paypal and now pay by Sharegroop.

On a human level the team is more connected and happy than ever. They work well together, and have the kind of mature synergy that builds great products and even better companies.

On a technical level the team continues to use the practices and infrastructure Nick originally set up. They continue to have the pragmatic rigor Nick loves so much. The team is growing, the CTO has the trust of his co-founders and is sure to build an amazing team. Our pragmatic approach works! And once an engineer learns the practices we preach, he in turn becomes a preacher of these habits - which is why it always cost far less to transform when the team is still small.

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