Chris Zempel
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Hey There!

I do consulting work for startups and SMB's. Read more about that here.

I'm passionate about making computers wonderful for humans, and not the other way around.

The latest thing I'm nerding out about is raising fish and plants in my house, and building the software to automate it.

Learn more about my background here.

Tech is the industry behind all industries.

Here's the process behind how I'll work with you.

1. Discovery

I'm the expert in software. I can think of ways to tackle problems you can't possibly think of, due to my context. But it works both ways. You're the expert in your business. You can think of intimate details and insights I can't possibly think of. The best ideas aren't going to come from you, or me. The best ideas are going to come from collaboration between us. That's what this phase is - both of us getting on the same frequency.

2. Outcomes & Measurements

You've got an inkling that you can use custom software to address a problem of yours. You might even have a proposed solution. But even if I went ahead and built that for you,
  • How will you know if the proposed solution is working or not?
  • How will you prioritize what the next most important thing is?
  • How are you actually going to make informed business decisions?
I'll help dig in and clarify the why behind our engagement - what business outcomes are you really after? Then I'll help you select the metrics and measurements that make the most sense for you. Sometimes this is straightforward. Sometimes this can be difficult and ambiguous. We'll tamp down the business outcomes you're seeking, how we're going to measure those, and how we're going to tell how we're doing. Then we'll bake these into the project from the start.

3. Phased Launch

You don't know me. I don't know you. Let's de-risk this for both of us, choose a small but valuable portion of the project I can tackle for you, and learn first hand what working with each other is like. Here's where we'll get useful software in production, and build the trust we need to move ahead and tackle the larger, more complicated and more valuable parts of the project.

4. Refinement

Up until now we've been pulling back the arrow and making sure we've aimed it at the right place. Here's where we let it fly, and I'll really get to work for you.
  • I'll help design, implement and deploy software that will get you your business outcomes
  • I'll help you prioritize what the most important things to focus on are based on actual metrics
  • I'll help you gather, parse, and contextualize user feedback
We'll work together, pivot around our measurements, and harvest all the learning we can to funnel it back into the software. The goal here is both maximum learning and maximum efficacy. This is how truly useful software is discovered. This is where you'll get the business outcomes you're after.

5. Results and Longevity

Once we've laid a solid technical foundation that's producing the results you need, we'll figure out what makes sense for you next. Most of the time this just means updating the server to keep it security-hole-free, testing backups, and maybe squashing an odd corner case here and there. But it could also mean helping you vet and assemble a new development team to carry the torch forward.

What I Do Differently

I don't believe in hourly billing because I don't think you should be put on the hook for my bad estimates. If I'm the expert, I should know exactly what I'm doing, and I should be putting my neck on the line with you. So typically I'll charge a set price up front so you know exactly what it's gonna be, then we don't worry about money again the rest of the project. I work on it until you're happy.

If you work with me, you will always have something to show for your investment. If I don't understand how what I'm doing is actually in your best interest, I won't do it. I'm simply not valuable as a hand doing as it's told, but extremely valuable as a technical sounding board who actually understands your business. So I totally understand that's not a good fit everywhere, but it's my disposition and so the kind of fit I need to look for.

I believe most software isn't humane. An interface is humane if it is responsive to human needs, and considerate of human frailties. I design software that fits into someone's day, not to determine what their day looks like. So whether I'm working on a Startup MVP, or internal tools that will be key components of your business's growth engine, I'm going to design and verify the UX based on what users actually need to accomplish and not how pretty the page looks.

Things I've Learned

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