You have a great business idea that you know will be awesome if you can just get it to market. The problem is, you don’t have the technical chops to build it yourself. And no-one else you have worked with seems to understand your business goals.
You’ve tried using contractors before. They are expensive and unreliable. And your goals are not aligned with theirs at all.
You’ve tried finding a technical co-founder. It takes forever! It just seems impossible these days.
And you’ve read all the blog articles in the world about what to do. Everyone just says “Learn to code yourself.”
What kind of help is that? It takes years to get good at software engineering. You know that!
But there is a way to get your product out quickly.
What if you just had a CTO to hold your hand for a few weeks? Just long enough to get a working MVP out to market, test it, iterate a little, get some real traction. Would that make a difference?
Imagine making serious progress on your user acquisition, your value proposition, and your conversion rate.
Imagine having a working functional product that’s good enough to prove your idea has real merit.
Imagine making sales.
Sitting side-by-side with a seasoned expert in tech product development, working together to build, ship, and sell your software product idea. Now.
Wouldn’t that feel great?
How does this work?
You and I will work together, as a pair, and build your product from start to finish. We will meet regularly for a series of sessions, usually about 4 hours each. If you’re not in the Bay Area, we’ll do it online. Each session, we’ll punch through the next barrier to getting your product out the door.
Over the course of 12 weeks, I will take you through the 12-week MVP process that I helped develop at Neo Innovation, and that is now used at high-end web development shops like Pivotal Labs.
We’ll go through all of the following steps together:
- Modeling your business with the Lean Canvas.
- Conducting customer problem interviews.
- Value proposition and channel tests with landing pages and ad campaigns.
- Setting up an email list and getting lead generation working on your site.
- Setting up all of the necessary analytics tools to measure our progress.
- Scoping out the MVP of your idea based on feedback from real customers.
- Pre-selling your product to validate that there is a real need.
- Building your MVP together and deploying it to the cloud.
- Iterating on the MVP based on your acquisition, activation, revenue, and retention metrics.
And you won’t just get a product out of it.
Working with me, you’ll pick up a lot of value technical skills along the way. When we’re done, you should have a product online that is generating revenue and validating your idea. And if you don’t, you’ll have learned enough to try the whole thing again yourself.
Option 1: The "Lite" 12-Week Package
If you’re just getting started with your idea, and you want to explore some of my methods without committing to the full 12-week engagement in Option 2 below, I offer a light-weight coaching plan that might work well for you. The program consists of regular 2-hour sessions, once per week. Each session is $800. You only pay for sessions as you need them.
This is an “a la carte” plan, meaning we can tackle any specific problems you have without going through the linear 12-week MVP process.
Option 2: The Full 12-Week Package
For the full 12-week MVP package, I provide 12 weekly 4-hour sessions for a total cost of $12,000. You’ll pay in 3 monthly $4,000 installments. If you pay for all 12 sessions in advance, I’ll throw in an extra 4-hour session for free.
We will go through the full 12-week MVP process together, tackling a new challenge each week. If at any time, you want to pause work, that’s no problem. We can pick up where we left off when you’re ready.
I am so confident that I can help you move your project forward with this package, I will give you a full refund any time within the first 30 days if you are unsatisfied for any reason.
Option 3: The Custom Package
Have a project that needs a lot more direct, hands-on attention from me? I am available to act as your interim CTO/Product manager for a three months, for which I will assemble an A-level cross-functional team to work on your project, and I will directly lead and manage the team. This is obviously a much more expensive and involved option. But if you have the investment and you just need a crack team of lean/agile specialists to execute on your vision, let’s talk. Minimum budget for this option is $120,000.
Let’s talk about your project.
I am happy to get on the phone with you and talk through your idea. The first 30-minute call is always free. Even if we don’t work together, there is a good chance I can give you some valuable feedback in the first 15 minutes of our conversation. There’s certainly no risk in that!
OK, but what is it like to work with me?
Here is what some of my colleagues have said about me:
"Sam's method focused us on what matters: our users. His mindful, holistic approach unveiled all the forms of value our product unlocked, and how to look at each user and their respective desires both individually and in concert with the broader ecosystem. Chock-full of insights, you'll see your product in a new way within hours of working with Sam."
—Justin Shafer, Founder/CEO at SunBanc
"Sam came in as our consultant CTO, and worked closely with myself as well as our marketing, PR and software engineers to hep redefine our goals, and set in motion a lean and actionable user acquisition strategy with measurable metrics. Coming from a non tech savvy person, Sam is always able to clearly communicate how each piece of the tech puzzle fits together and simply explains the pros and cons of various strategy scenarios. Sam always listens before he speaks and never comes to the table with preconceived notions for new ideas. MyloWrites continues to use Sam's as a consultant as we grow and strategize for the future."
—Mya Dunlop, Founder/CEO at MyloWrites.com
"Sam is a perfect balance of engineering talent and product/business management. His background and experience give him the unique ability to consult at a high-level, and roll-up his sleeves and write code in the same day. When I need a technical co-founder to help develop and launch a new business Sam will be my first call."
—Jonathan Irwin, Associate Director at Pivotal Labs
“Sam is an accomplished, systems thinker with deep engineering experience. This is a rare combination in that he can not only help with the technical aspects, but also step back and understand the value dynamics and constraints. I had been wanting to work with Sam ever since I met him at Lean Startup Circle in SF years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Sam at Neo, and would recommend him to anyone needing a blend of value, engineering and systems advice.”
—David Bland, Founder/CEO at Precoil
“As technical founder of a fast-growing start-up company, I have a lot to thank Sam McAfee for. He helped me get started in software by seeing my potential and hiring me for my first real development work. I quickly rose to project management under his mentorship, learning a great deal from him about everything from software engineering, to leading and managing, to the subtle human side of working with clients. Were it not for Sam, I'm not sure I'd be in the fantastic position I am today. ”
—Aaron Maxwell, Instructor at NewCircle
Still have some doubts? Let's address them.
It costs too much!
Actually, not really. You are paying for experienced advice and strategy, as well as capable software development and growth marketing expertise. From an agency, you’d easily pay $100,000 for that level of service. Hiring your own 4 person team? Closer to a $1,000,000!
This is a fast and affordable alternative to either the painful and risky hiring process, or those high-priced web development agencies.
But we would have to work remotely!
Hey, that's OK! These days remote pairing tools are very sophisticated. Simply using a video chat software like Skype, in combination with a screen share program, we can work together just like we are sitting at the same table in a cafe. In the last few years, I have worked on major software projects with dozens of engineers in this same way. And with great results.
How much can we really accomplish in one 4-hour session?
Your past experience with engineers may have you thinking that two people sitting together can’t accomplish much in an afternoon. You’ll be surprised! I have led small 2-3 person teams that built completely working applications in just two days! And typically, the kind of tech work we will be doing together is straightforward, like building some simple landing pages, setting up FB ad campaigns, or tying together various API integrations. And we’ll do it all on fast, affordable cloud technologies.
There are plenty of technical consultants. What is unique about me?
I am unusual CTO material. My credentials and experience differentiate me from other CTOs, in that I have successfully run and operated several businesses, deeply understand team building and the human side of engineering, have done significant sales and marketing, and understand how to design, build and ship product with ruthless speed and efficiency. My growth hacking and business skills make working with me a unique learning experience for my clients.
Ready to schedule a call?
There are a lot of words on this page. You won’t really know what I am like to work with until you talk to me in real time. So go ahead and schedule your free 30-minute call.
Prefer email? That's fine. I am reachable at email@example.com.
Space is limited!
Obviously, I can’t pair with hundreds of entrepreneurs at the same time. I only have capacity for a few projects in parallel. That means slots are extremely limited.
Make sure you reserve a spot by acting now and giving me a call.
Who am I, anyway?
I am an experienced technology and product leader based in Oakland CA. I have been working in technology innovation in Silicon Valley since the first “dotcom boom” in 2000. I combine strong engineering capability, team and organizational leadership skills, and a keen business acumen with a laserlike focus on core product development principles from leading product development methodologies like Agile and the Lean Startup.
I am also a regular speaker at product and technology conferences, and regularly gives public workshops on technology and product topics. Speaking engagements include QCon NY and SF, the Lean Startup Conference, and Lean Kanban North America. I am a frequent speaker for the startup training programs at Product School, Galvanize and InnoWest. My talks are available on Slide Share.