The Challenge

The startup needed to deliver a viable product on a budget.

The Solution

Twin Sun helped the startup prioritize features to make the best use of their raised funding.

The Results

The startup had paying customers using their web app within 4 months.

Streamlined Sales Management for Contractors

Groundwork identified that residential contractors spend significant time qualifying sales leads, traveling to customers’ homes, and estimating projects. This qualification and estimation work consumes a significant amount of time. After interviewing numerous contractors, Groundwork found that contractors are very aware of the costs associated with these time-consuming activities. They devised a new approach to make the sales process simpler and more economical for their customers: an online sales management system.

With the envisioned Groundwork web app, contractors would qualify and prioritize leads through information provided by homeowners in a contact form. Instead of a home visit, homeowners could share a video detailing their project. A messaging system would enable sales representatives to clarify project requirements with minimal effort. This technology-centric approach to sales qualification could make the best use of the contractor’s time and give homeowners a convenient way to get a quote.

Outlining Requirements

We knew Groundwork had a set budget in mind for the first release of their web-based platform. They also had a well-researched picture of what they needed to build. Groundwork conducted thorough research on how contractors managed their sales opportunities. This helped Groundwork design a time-saving sales management product.

The Groundwork team came to Twin Sun with a completely designed user experience. They also considered implementing the full design to be a long-term goal. For the first public release, they wished to have a viable product that could generate revenue and drive future improvements.

To ensure we could build the Groundwork platform within their desired budget, we proposed a fixed price agreement. Fixed price contracts guarantee that we deliver a well-defined set of features for a predetermined price. This approach to a first public release makes sense for startups who have a clear vision with a completely designed user experience.

When we create a fixed price agreement, we outline all features to be completed upfront with user stories and detailed acceptance criteria. Acceptance criteria are objective pass/fail requirements that must be met to consider a feature complete. We then estimate the time required to fulfill these requirements.

As was expected, our estimate for implementing the entire design exceeded Groundwork’s desired budget for the first release. Therefore, we collaborated with the client to adjust the scope of work to fit within their budget. We shared our user stories, acceptance criteria, and estimates with the client and discussed priorities.

Together, we were able to fit everything needed for a viable product with a great user experience into Groundwork’s desired budget. We saved the remaining features for a later version, after the initial product launch generated revenue from paying customers.

Building With the Right Tools

Delivery on a fixed budget requires expert development tools and practices. Thanks to Groundwork’s diligence in customer research, design, and feature prioritization, our team had a solid understanding of what needed to be done. We knew that our preferred technology stack—Ruby on Rails with a React UI, all hosted on Amazon Web Services—was a safe bet for this project. Our web developers know how to be productive with those tools, and we did not want to experiment with untested technology while building on a budget.

We recognized that our work needed to maintain a high level of quality. The goal of Groundwork’s platform is to eliminate hassles and save time for contractors. Only a great user experience and reliable software would achieve this goal. Therefore, we relied heavily on automated testing to guarantee feature reliability and regularly compared our implementation to the approved design.

We also created a manual test environment that the Groundwork team could review whenever they liked. Regular feedback on our progress ensured we were building an excellent product that met our client’s expectations.

Delivering on Time and on Budget

Our software development practices and regular communication with the Groundwork team led to successful completion of the web app. We launched the first version of the Groundwork platform to paying customers in 14 weeks. Nearly 100 residential contractors adopted the platform over the first year.

We implemented lower-priority features that were omitted from the first version in subsequent releases. Dozens of additional features were added to the platform as Groundwork incorporated feedback from their paying customers.

As Groundwork’s customer base grew, they decided to hire their own in-house developer with our encouragement. We believe that most successful startups eventually reach a size where having their own technology team makes the most sense for their business. Twin Sun was happy to celebrate this milestone with Groundwork, and we assisted with technical screening and onboarding for Groundwork’s first developer hire.

What Groundwork Customers Say

Text bubbles containing quotes from Groundwork customers: 1. It won't take you long to figure out it's going to save you time, save you money, and put you ahead of your competition. — Kevin O'Connor, Miracle Contracting. 2. If you value your time and don’t want to be in the estimate writing business, sign up for Groundwork. — Josh Gadbois, Renovista Construction. 3. Not only does Groundwork save us hours of travel time, but it also allows us to qualify projects before we invest time in the estimating process. — Heather Duchscher, Intelligent Living Indy