Price your development project for value, not cost

Companies in growth mode have knowledge gaps—and FoundersWire’s newest expert, Chris Swenor, CEO of East Coast Product, wants to help fill them. He’ll be taking your tech-related questions and answering them here in this column every week. Submit yours today, RIGHT HERE, with the subject line: Tech & Tell.


Q: How should we estimate the cost of developing? Is there a preferred per-hour rate or is it better to pay per-project scope?

A: Don’t base your decision on cost, you need to be more concerned with value.

I’ve seen prices as low as $15 per hour and as high as $500 per hour.  I’ve seen project quotes for ridiculously complex projects as low as $10,000, and easy projects in the millions.

Find a company that gets the vision, is easy to work with, and has amazing referrals.  The company should bleed your company’s colors, and want the project to succeed as much as you do. Values alignment is extremely important.

You should have direct communication with the people working on the project, and the company you hire shouldn’t be afraid to give you constructive feedback and suggestions.

Usually, the lower the price, the bigger the gamble. That being said, there are outsource companies out there for $60 per hour that are amazing. The question you should ask yourself is “Is it worth $50,000 to have a 10 percent chance of getting the product I need, or should I invest $150,000 into a company that will give me a 90 percent chance to succeed?”

Chris Swenor is the CEO and co-founder of East Coast Product, a digital product agency that works to enhance existing teams with the app development cycle—everything from strategy, to design, to user testing, to development. 

Chris offers CTO and CPO guidance to ECP’s clients and the greater Boston tech community. Previously, Chris was the director of New Product Development at zMags and the CTO at Vsnap, both of which have had successful exits. Outside of East Coast Product, Chris volunteers as the technical advisor for Resilient Coders. Interested in discussing product and learning more about ECP? Connect with Chris at

Here is ours, now it’s your turn: declare your higher calling

Here is FoundersWire’s #highercalling:

Being known for empathy, integrity and trust in all our stories and relationships, using the power of the press to encourage and educate our community, and as founders ourselves, getting behind growth companies with our words and actions. With our coverage, the world will remember: When it comes to innovation, Boston was first.

What’s your higher calling? We’re looking for impassioned entrepreneurs to share, why have you devoted your career to the problem you’re solving? We’ll publish the best entries every week.

Find out more HERE.

What got you here won’t get you there

Atlantic Consultants

As you recall from our last article, “10 Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur,” we discussed the essential traits that set successful entrepreneurs apart when founding a business. But what does it take to grow a business?

There’s a fork in the road when it comes to starting a business and growing the business. That Ferrari mindset of the entrepreneur has to be fine-tuned and focused in order to grow the business. We call this journey–from being an entrepreneur to becoming a leader–Leaderpreneurism.

There is a reason only 20 percent of those who start a business actually survive after five years. There’s also a reason many successful business leaders, those who excel at outpacing their competitors by 22 percent, have the 7 LEADERPRENEUR commitments.

For example, we worked with the leader of a tech company who was regularly drawn into the technology of the company, instead of the business. She couldn’t get herself out of the door to meet and develop new opportunities for growth strategies.

An Atlantic LEADERPRENEUR journey begins by overcoming the first challenge: working on the business, not just in the business. There are several areas we coached her on to enable her to grow the business. The first was hiring, developing, and empowering a strong management team. Letting go of the tactical was deeply embedded in the fear of failure, which is an undercurrent for entrepreneurs. There are no guarantees, but we do know that not letting go of control is one sure way to snuff out the light of the company.

Secondly, we created several strategic growth goals that were dependent on her working on the business: developing a larger line of credit, identifying strategic alliances or potential acquisitions, and looking into more vertical opportunities.

Thirdly, we helped her commit to taking some time out to recharge her batteries. Even Ferraris need tune-ups and a battery change. It brought her back reenergized and able to sustain the 20,000-foot perspective needed to take a hard look at the company and work on the business.

If you have been openly focused on the tactical parts of the business or keep getting drawn into the firefighting, it may be time to hit neutral, assess the situation, and restart your engine. Like all high-performing cars, even Ferraris need an engine assessment and diagnostic to see what’s working well and what has to be fixed. This five-minute growth  barometer assessment will help you to see where your strengths, roadblocks or blind spots might be which may be hindering your journey.

Click here to take our Growth Barometer Assessment. 

The first 10 assessment respondents will receive the opportunity to receive a free pass to our next Atlantic LEADERPRENEUR Panel event on April 4.

Tune in next month when we’ll provide tips on each of the key 7 challenges and LEADERPRENEUR commitments necessary for the Atlantic LEADERPRENEUR journey. Until then, keep growing your leadership and business.

Bonni Carson DiMatteo, founder of Atlantic Consultants in Wellesley has been helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses for more than 30 years. Through coaching, LEADERPRNEURSM roundtables, leadership training and strategic planning, she helps entrepreneurs work ON the business, not just IN the business. Call 781-235-7555

Let us know you exist: How to use Get Covered

Emerging growth in Boston is our main focus, and we want to hear from you about all the ways you’re solving a big problem. We believe Boston is the epicenter of depth–where we leverage all the research, universities and hospitals, think-tanks and collectives. Our business ecosystem has been raised under the shelter of that umbrella, which makes our homegrown companies uniquely positioned to solve the major problems our society faces.

We are looking to cover these companies–in all stages of growth–and in particular, we want to reflect the full and current face of entrepreneurship in Boston: women, immigrants, minorities and men alike. Boomer-preneur, solo-preneur, idea stage to $10M in revenue, we want to know what you’re passionate about.

If you have a  story you want to share about your company, whether you’re hiring for your team, looking for office space, about to raise $3M in seed money, or you’ve never taken investment and have been scaling by earning revenue based on customers (as most shrewd Boston firms grow quietly this way)–please participate. Submit something even if it’s just to tell us you exist. We can’t accurately reveal what Boston’s emerging companies look like without hearing from you.

Navigate through the three-bar icon in the upper left corner, tap GET COVERED, and submit your news. Type your company name in the Story Title field, then share your news in the text box below it. Use the Add Media button to insert your photos into the body of the text box. Be sure to include names and any identifying information we’ll need to get to know you. Don’t forget to mention “Why were you inspired to do this?” What pushed you to solve the problem you’re facing? We want to know as much as we can, because we’ve all heard investors say: “We don’t fund companies, we fund people.”

So let’s tell them who you are. 

We’ll feature your stories every week, and together, we will shape what this market is going to look like 100 years from now.

Talk to you us today, tell us #whatsyourstory. We know you can’t grow without getting your word out. We’re here now to help that happen.

FoundersWire is Boston’s only mobile-first business outlet. Follow us today @FoundersWire on Twitter, and subscribe here to keep up with all the emerging market news you need.



Above board: SheStarts experts on choosing advisors


BOSTON—As a founder, where do you turn when you need advice? If you’re truly innovating, there isn’t a single source—often you have to collect expertise from multiple sources to patch together a plan. If you’re lucky, those handpicked experts can become your advisory board, according to the SheStarts panelists who shared their thoughts Monday night.

Christopher Mirabile of Launchpad Venture Group, entrepreneurs Joyce Lonergan (CEO and co-founder of Mellitus LLC) and Helen Adeosun (CEO and founder of Care Academy) joined serial entrepreneur/moderator Tina Weber at WeWork South Station to share advice on choosing an advisory board. Here are the 5Ws you should know, plus a little extra:

SheStarts co-founder Nancy Cremins introduces the panelists at Building and Using an Advisory Board.

SheStarts co-founder Nancy Cremins introduces the panelists at Building and Using an Advisory Board.

WHO should be an advisor:

“Your advisory board is a group you’ve collected who are focused on helping you,” said Mirabile. “It’s people you can rely on … an industry expert, someone who might be in your slide deck. That’s on the more formal name-dropping spectrum.”

“They’re supposed to make your load lighter. You don’t want to bring on anyone that will make more work for you,” Lonergan said.

WHAT is the best way to work with an advisor:

“You say, ‘Here’s what I’m thinking, does that work for you?’ Then put them to work, give them homework, let them know that’s what you expect. Calling them up, saying ‘What do I do?’ is not the way to go, to give them confidence in you as a leader. Be explicit about whether they’re OK with you using their name, and make sure they know your story,” Mirabile said.

“There has to be enough connection, you don’t want to be forgotten. Each call has to be a transaction. And then ask yourself, ‘Did I get what I needed?’ It’s up to me to bring them along, their time is valuable,” Lonergan said.

“It happens organically. We like each other and how each other thinks,” said Weber. “Just don’t question yourself too much. Lay it out there, lay out your ideas.”

“Call them, but not to the point where it keeps you from moving your company forward. If I ask a question and they come back asking, ‘How did that go,” I latch on. It doesn’t have to feel so boisterous and sales-y. See who is really into it,” Adeosun said.

WHEN should you choose an advisor:

“If you need advice, you’re ready,” said Mirabile. “Do it as soon as you can use one.”

“If you need advice, you’re ready,” said Mirabile. “Do it as soon as you can use one.”

“You listen better if you create something first, and you get better feedback,” said Adeosun. “(One of my advisors) picked apart my crap like I don’t know what, but it was great. She’s now a valuable member of my advisory.”

WHERE can you find qualified advisors:

“I ask myself all the time, ‘Who do I know who does that? Sometimes it comes from LinkedIn, who does my group know? Through partnering and outside vendors, I’m always trying to find a thread of commonality,” said Lonergan.

“A lot of times I’m already working with someone, and they say, ‘Do you mind if I list you (on my slide deck).’ It starts out with networking, asking for advice, and good chemistry. (The entrepreneur says:) I’m picking your brain, you give me good answers, and then say, would you like to take this to the next level,” Mirabile said.

WHY choose to work with an advisory board:

“We are showing our customers, these are the people advising us every day, we’re being pushed forward,” said Adeosun. “And it keeps you accountable, right? You don’t want to mess up those relationships, so you work even harder.”

HOW should you work out compensation:

“As an entrepreneur, I never have enough money or time. I try to do everything as low cost as possible. But I’ve learned not to skimp when I need smarts,” Lonergan said. “If you can get the magic of your idea across, sometimes you can get them to help beyond a paycheck.”

“If you can get the magic of your idea across, sometimes you can get them to help beyond a paycheck.”

“If they’re putting in a ton of time, making intros or lending you a name with the halo of recognition, that could be a quarter of a percent to half,” said Mirabile, “or in exceptional circumstance, up to 1 percent of common stock options.”

Mirabile had special advice about this, and also covers it in his blog, “You can outgrow expertise early, so give them less (stock) maybe, but let it vest early so they aren’t hanging around when you don’t need them. Shoot for less stock and faster vesting.”

Adeosun referred to a resource that she has found valuable, a founder/advisor standard template: “The Founders Institute lays out the process by experience and cache, setting expectations, this work is worth x-amount.”

Best traits to look for in a quality advisor:

CM: Availability, willingness to help and super-networked is a key feature. A lot of people are hard to schedule with, they give you shallow answers.

JL: Master of their craft, give you great depth of answers, and trust is so important, for what I ask to be held in confidence and not twisted.

HA: Their ability to connect and work with people in our industry. Whenever I consider an advisor, I ask in passing, ‘What do you think of this person?’ People admire them for how much they are willing to give, and I look at how much people love them within the industry.

And Nancy Cremins, SheStarts co-founder and attorney with Gesmer Updegrove gave the final word: “When you do put together your advisory, make sure everyone doesn’t look the same or you won’t get that good diversity of thought.”

Good advice across the board.