nReality's operational plan

Yesterday we had a company team day where @jacdevos and I, along with our new team members @pretorh and @reinhardholl, revisited nReality’s values, philosophy, mission statement and operation plan.

We decided to make the outcomes public in order to elicit feeback from the community. Please feel free to provide suggestions. Hopefully you'll also be able to use some of these ideas in your own ventures.

Jacques and I originally created nReality to be a home for entrepreneurial software developers who want to maximise the value they bring to people through consulting and development services. Using these services as a vehicle we want to experiment in building new knowledge and software products that can spin off into new businesses. Like BirdLasser and DevGuild.

In order to achieve this goal one of our core values is “Our culture and philosophy is the culmination of each individual". This means we have to continuously adapt (and improve) our business plan as we go along. This blog post reflects our current understanding.

To quote Jacques: “We are building the company that we would want to work for”.

Company overview

We’ve learnt a lot from our successes and failures over the last three years. Out of our experiences we discovered that we are most successful in helping companies bring awesome products to the market. We do this through coaching teams or building the products ourselves.

Yesterday, we refined our elevator pitch to reflect this niche:

nReality is a consultancy that help companies bring valuable software products to market through coaching and development services. Our key differentiator is our focus on the entire software lifecycle and not just individual practices such as project management or testing.


We created our value system 3 years ago and have been updating it as time progressed. One of the biggest updates came later that year after we read “Delivering Happiness” which talks about how the Zappos’ value system is instrumental in catalysing their culture. A key takeaway was how you should be able to tell stories of how the value system was put into practice.

Interestingly we realised that we do not always manage to live up to some of the values - like “balanced lifestyle”, but striving to achieve them alway pull us back on course. We did not update the values during the session, but identified some duplication which we will iron out over time.

  • Balanced lifestyle. Have fun and play.
  • Nurture our passion. Only do we believe in and practice what we preach
  • Everyone is important. We are not slaves or resources
  • Trust and respect. Our culture and philosophy is the culmination of each individual
  • Excellence. Strive for pragmatism, simplicity, creativity and extreme effectiveness enabled with the best tools and techniques
  • Progressiveness. Learn continuously, adapt to the environment, and fail fast
  • Keep ourselves honest. Always deliver value. Remain direct and truthful
  • Collaborate. Strength through networks and meaningful relationships
  • Mentor. Empower and enable the community. Help those that want help
  • Sustainability. We want to create a business that allows us to live life.

Ethics and integrity are implicit.


It is worthwhile to quickly say who our team is:

  • Hendri Pretorius: Developer
  • Jacques de Vos: Founder, developer, and coach
  • Martin Cronjé: Founder, developer, and coach
  • Reinhard Höll: Developer

Everyone reviewed and edited this post with me.

Operational plan

This is a very rough draft of our current thinking.

We draw a lot of inspiration from Crisp DNA. Our company operates as a collective working together to;

  • build a great brand within the industry
  • help each other succeed with our own goals
  • gain security through operating as a team and building a strong network of partnerships

This outlines some of the decisions we regarding our operation plan:

Member Income:

  • There is no fixed or capped income. In other words a member earns the full amount that they invoice minus the transparent company contribution as calculated below.
  • There is full transparency on the income of all members.
  • All members will assist, as far as possible, other members to achieve their personal income goals.
  • Members are responsible for their own financial security and income stability. However, members will assist each other, as far as possible, in the event a member suddenly loses client income.

Ownership of IP

  • All knowledge products are licensed under “Creative Commons * Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 South Africa”.
  • All code is owned by authors.
  • Members can use each others IP on agreement by the owner.
  • nReality can use the bragging rights of all active members work, and can choose to be or not to be associated with their work.
  • nReality members have first option to invest in products created off by the members.

When someone leaves

  • The person who leaves have first option on their active clients and can continue further relations.
  • People purchase their own equipment which they retain that when they leave.

Approval and decision making

nReality members must get approval from the collective for:

  • for new ventures to ensure brand integrity is maintained.
  • to let clients go or bring new ones in.
  • any legally binding contract.


  • Members of the collective have the option to buy shares after 2 years.
  • Shareholders must bill monthly for 6 months to retain ownership.


  • Bun Protocol (from Crisp DNA).
  • Commission is negotiated at start of sales process.
  • All proposals reviewed at hourly rate (Operational / Marketing).
  • All proposals approved by collective.

Company operations:

  • With company operation we refer to; accounting, legal, HR, and marketing.
  • Hourly rate capped at 16 hours per month per person, above that collective approval is required. Members.
  • Marketing expenses such requires collective approval. Expenses are typically outsourced graphic design, travel-costs to speak at conferences.
  • Members are compensated for their time taking into considerations: their hours logged on Ops/Marketing, their baseline income and the money that is left from company contributions (detailed calculation in spreadsheet)

Contributions and expenses:

  • We have a fixed monthly company payment to cover fixed expenses such as accountants, bank charges, virtual offices, entertaining clients, GitHub, Google Apps, etc.
  • We have a variable payment of 5-10% to cover member compensation for company operations. The compensation model sums to zero if all members contribute equally
  • We are fine tuning these numbers as we go.

Company meetings

  • We are trying to work from the same office space once a week with a requirement to be at the office once a month where we do a retrospective on the company.
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