At Artcompiler, we work in four-week cycles. We ship updates continuously with a punctuation mark to tie things up at the end of each cycle. In this article we describe our technology, process, and how we work with parterns.
Our products all start as a clone of the open source framework Graffiticode. This framework includes a developer console with various dashboards, an api server, and a template for creating new language-oriented web services.
The underlying technology stack includes: NodeJS, React, NextJS, NextAuth, GraphQL, Ethereum, and TailwindCSS. Layered on top of that might be OAuth, Twilio, Stripe, and various other APIs.
We work in four-week cycles using a process loosely based on Shape Up by 37Signals.
We start by designing a task specific language that describes the minimum viable functionality of the application core. This normally includes some server logic and browser user interface.
We shape work for each cycle with pitches that sketch out what matters most about the intended outcome. On the day before each cycle begins, we bet how much of the current cycle we are willing to spend to complete the pitched feature.
What makes this process effective is the imposition of three opposing forces: fixed cost, variable scope, and minimum viable outcome. If we are able to ship work that fills the specified shape for the fixed cost that was bet, it is considered done. If it is not done, then it is considered a sunk cost and either scrapped or sent back to the drawing board for reworking and possibly pitched in a later cycle.
The key to this process is to specify work loosely enough to allow the implementation flexibility to cut corners when necessary while still delivering on the intended value of the feature.
We budget 20 four-week cycles for a project to get from idea to default alive product. If a product doesn't become default alive in 1 1/2 years, we need to question whether it ever will.
We budget $5,000 per cycle, or $100,000 per project. As a project brings in income, that income is added to the budget. The project is considered default alive when it is either generating revenue of $10,000 MRR or covering its fully loaded costs, which ever is greater.
A joint venture is a project that Artcompiler and a partner agree to co- develop. The partner commits to covering the studio costs in exchange for majority ownership of the developed product. Here is a pro-forma term sheet for Joint Ventures.