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Empatico uses Slack and Clubhouse together to adopt a "remote-first" product development process



Company Size



New York, NY

Empatico is an initiative of The KIND Foundation focused on growing a new generation of global citizens. Using videoconferencing technology, Empatico matches up classrooms around the world and helps teachers incorporate more collaborative activities into their curriculums.

Works Out of the Box

Having trialed Clubhouse at his previous employer (Kickstarter), James Turnbull (CTO and co-founder) thought it was a good idea to take another look at it while Empatico was still in its formative stages. As an NGO, they were able to take advantage of the non-profit plan.

"We needed something that was actually designed to manage software development, that had a clearly defined workflow and was easy to use, and that would allow me as the engineering and product lead, to see the state of our world and report that to our investor. I wanted software that was going to work out of the box."

It only took a few clicks for the Empatico team to have their Clubhouse all set up and ready to go. It's also grown with them as the team has expanded.

There were two of us when we started using it, and now there's thirteen. But we haven't had to change anything; the product has moved with us, rather than us having to bend or break it.James Turnbull, CTO, Empatico

Distributed Communication

Empatico is a distributed team, which means some of their members work from outside the office. In order to accommodate this, they've adopted a "remote-first" product development process. "You have to treat everyone like they're remote to make the processes equal," says James. Their development process is heavily centered on collaboration tools like Slack and Clubhouse, and they make ample use of video conferences.

The combination of working with a smaller team (and company overall) and having a distributed team meant that they needed a well-defined workflow. "We wanted a workflow that we could define, where nothing was up for interpretation. If a story is in this spot, it means this, and the story goes from here to here as it's being worked on," he says.

With less-structured tools, they'd found that a workflow could be easily circumvented — even accidentally. Using Clubhouse and a sensible, structured workflow, they find that everyone knows what's happening, whether they're in-office or not. All it takes is a few clicks and a glance.

The Empatico Flow

Usually, the Empatico team starts by creating an Epic for a large feature or addition (for example, a new dashboard). Then, they build a meta-story for each subset of the larger epic (for example, each of the screens or functions in the dashboard). This meta-story is used to describe the feature being built and to document the processes and tasks that will go into it. Then, the whole Empatico team (including product, engineering, and design) goes over the meta-stories together to make sure that all of the necessary tasks are listed there and accurately described, and then each of those tasks is turned into a Story of its own.

They have a fairly continuous development process, which means they rely heavily on the GitHub integration — a story gets a branch assigned to it, the pull request is created, and then code review and edits happen, before it's merged into master and the story is marked as "Deployed" (and the code itself is automatically deployed).

Empatico has engaged with hundreds of classrooms across over forty countries, with more positive feedback rolling in every day. With Clubhouse's flexible suite of tools, they're building a robust platform to carry their message of understanding and care to children around the world.