Starter welcomes the opportunity to work with clients on their projects applying our best-in-class technology with decades of best practices. Typically our projects combine systems architecture engineering, software development, and design services to create a cohesive deliverable — typically a software product like a mobile app or a web site. The process of matching a client’s needs with our offerings is the first step — not every project is a perfect fit, and not every client is a perfect fit. Typically our clients will have the following characteristics:

  • Sufficient vision of what they want delivered that they are able to describe it adequately for us to create visual mockups and wireframes
  • Sufficient funding and funding to allow us to complete the project
  • Realistic timelines and expectations about what can be accomplished on their budget and how long it will take

Once we have interviewed the client to determine their project needs, we typically propose an initial requirements and planning phase during which we create the following deliverables: Starter Consulting / Dev Project WorkflowClient requirements – budget, timeline, scope

Starter requirements
min budget ($?)
max timeline (x weeks/month)
type (retainer, hourly, project)
deposit (x%)
criteria – How does this relate to our internal projects (Chukles, Vroom, etc..)?
team – Do we need to bring on additional talent? If so, let’s brief them now.


Invoice via FreshBooks
Send contract – PDF via email?
Statement of Work (SOW) – iCloud pages template
Sign+file Contract, Sign+file SOW
Check deposit

Start work

Phase 1:
 Design interactive prototype (high/low fidelity)

Tool: InVision (~$25/month)- Great way to involve everyone (designer/dev/client) on a web/mobile prototype prior to coding. We need to control our dev time and make sure we’re not investing thought time on features that don’t get implemented. This is also a great time to have the client sign off on a design build. If necessary we can update the SOW and request a change order if something is out of scope. Again, a big time saver.- Project lead dev/designer approve
– Client approves

Phase 2: Development
 – setup or integrate back-end, infrastructure ( / hosting, CMS (if required)
Visual Designer – finalize dev specs / export assets (InVision / Adobe CC or Sketch)
Front End Dev – select/edit build templates / views

Major Development Phase — Project Milestones Progress PaymentsSee below sectionPhase 3: Testing + Client review + launch
Net 30 – final deposit
SEO – Google Webmaster

Phase 4: project round-up
Create a case study or work spotlight on Starter portfolio
Client testimonial (on LinkedIn)
Feature work on behance/dribble/medium or any other social platform


Major Development Phase — Project Milestones Progress PaymentsOver 15+ years of consulting we know how important it is to operate with the utmost in transparency and to keep progress humming along on the project while keeping our staff productive and happy as well as the client informed and comfortable.  There are usually many stakeholders in the success of a Starter project, thus keeping the information flowing along with the deliverables is crucial to success. Keep in mind there is a built in motivation for us to complete the project — the prospect of follow-on work, ongoing year 2 of maintenance and support and further testimonials, referrals and good faith equals success for our business. Of course nobody wants to get fired or miss out on additional progress payments or future business. That said, progress payments and milestone acceptance is nothing new — like all contractors, we have a standard process by which to equitably share the risk for the project, and this all maps to the consulting project methodology we have used for nearly 20 years: 

1. We ask for a 20% of the estimate total as down-payment to start work. Unworked time is refundable should the project be canceled before the first progress payment. This allocation allows us to set aside time and resources for the project and assures BOTH Starter and the Client that we will have available manpower dedicated to the project. Keep in mind that once we undertake a project of this magnitude, there is an immediate opportunity cost for us — I have to set aside and/or turn down other paid work, stop marketing for new gigs, and begin to make promises to other consultants and staff in order that they will be reliably available to work on the project.  Everyone involved needs to clear their schedule, and needs a guarantee that Starter will be able to pay them if they say NO to other work to work on this project. So the 20% ensures that Starter can make these promises to pay and immediately begin working on the project at 100% capacity with much less risk to both of us of our being unable to put the proper staffing to task on these significant deliverables. 2. After payment clears we immediately begin work.  FYI: the initial work of setting up the server environments, project setup, setting up unit tests, GIT repository, Jenkins Server, AWS accounts and initial EC2 instances, lining up additional help, and fleshing out the absolute minutiae of the project in code scaffolding and unit test will give you an incredible value for that first 20%. Even if we were to completely walk away after that first set of deliverables, you still have an awesome infrastructure, documentation, and clear roadmap for the app and platform.  You always know with confidence that you are in good hands as you get access to the codebase, server control panels, and as we provide progress reports with screenshots etc. 3. Bi-weekly, we produce a progress report of work product for your signoff and acceptance at each milestone so there is a continuous process of review, sign-off acceptance, and accompanying progress payments. Since each progress payment is going towards a corresponding milestone, there is a chance for you to withhold payment until you feel the milestone has been achieved.  Of course these milestones will be irrefutable, such as:

“Database schema created, system login screens built, Unit testing for each function successful, deployed to CI server and staging”

 Along with the progress reports and screenshots, and any other evidence that the milestone is achieved, we will include the progress invoice. If there is any discrepancy we clear it up before you pay and we move onto the next milestone. Of course the client will have access to work product and code at every stage, for example with GIT repo, server logins, Basecamp documentation, and InvisionApp screens. So in any circumstance should you decide to use another team, you basically have them pick up where we left off and you have lost nothing.

The key takeaway is that we lower risk to the client in these concrete ways:

 1. We phase the work and dole it out with progress payments — should at any time the relationship break down or project fail, the maximum risk to the client is going to be at most a small percentage of the overall project cost.  Due to the technology stack and the fact the client always has all of the “keys to the kingdom” the code and the servers at your disposal, there is zero chance they will be left hanging with an app that cannot be completed. 2. We use technology that is 100% industry standard for Enterprise-class mobile web apps – of course there are alternative approaches and competing technologies each with pros and cons, but our stack is specifically built with portability, open standards, and which I encourage you to review at any time.  We always recommend the client checks in with a trusted 3rd party at any time to review our code and project plans, architecture diagrams, security technology etc. 3. We deliver portable work product (code, running servers, system logins, documentation, unit tests, mockups, and basecamp documents) at regular intervals mapped to the deliverables specified in the estimate document (SOW). 4. Finally, the last 20% payment is reserved for project completion acceptance. In terms of a guarantee that they will end up with an acceptable app, this is the client’s ace-in-the hole.  The client can with hold the final 20% payment indefinitely until they are satisfied that Starter has completed the work that has been detailed in the SOW. Should we not get the app delivered the final 20% could be used to have another team finish the project. This arrangement protects both parties and provides proper motivation to us to complete the app to your satisfaction — we clearly want our final payment of course — and will also hopefully have a Phase III project at that point to look forward to.  This carrot and stick approach will be sufficient to ensure we make good on the scope of work we propose to fulfill on your behalf. There is zero risk that you have not received a viable work product and have total access to everything needed at ANY TIME to take what has been built and continue work on it with another developer. Furthermore, you can literally fire up a public snapshot of the Starter Ignite platform and replicate the entire platform at any time using in approximately 5 minutes: