The Art of Product

Ben and Derrick chat weekly about building software companies.

About the show

The Art of Product is a podcast chronicling the journeys of two entrepreneurs building software companies. Hosted by Ben Orenstein and Derrick Reimer.

The Art of Product on social media


  • 48: When Is the Right Time to Take Outside Funding?

    July 5th, 2018  |  31 mins 12 secs

    Derrick was hoping to finish mock-ups for communication flows inside Level to get feedback, but that turned out to be a lofty goal that he is still working on. The process of designing Level has generated more questions than answers and minute details that Derrick needs to address. This is the real work happens.

    Congrats to Ben, who finally crossed 10,000 followers on Twitter. He uses Twitter as a way to provide value, be useful, and build relationships. Also, he launched the Code Quality Challenge sign-ups and a private podcast to share information with people who are interested in Tuple.

  • 47: Pacing Yourself When Starting Up

    June 28th, 2018  |  33 mins 56 secs

    Despite being in the process of building new companies and products, Derrick and Ben understand the importance of sustainable pace - being able to unplug and get some rest to make smart decisions. So, Derrick just got back from vacation, and Ben plans to take some days off soon. It’s about the mental component of mastering your brain.

    Derrick is getting back into the swing of things and trying to finish the mock-ups for communication flows inside Level. Ben has been focusing on filling up Tuple’s alpha and booking substantial pre-pays. Also, Ben shipped his landing page and already has about 12,000 subscribers.

  • 46: The Importance of Trust with Your Audience with Justin Jackson

    June 14th, 2018  |  1 hr 6 mins

    Today’s episode features guest Justin Jackson, who is building a new podcasting startup called,, and runs MegaMaker training and books for SaaS and indie software companies. He’s discovering that it’s a lot of work to build something.

    Derrick and Ben know how he feels. For Derrick, it’s been a fun week in the land of Level. He’s been working on his new landing page and landing new sign-ups for the pre-launch list. Ben has pre-sold $700 worth of Tuple accounts and raised $500 worth of verbal “Yeses.” Contact Ben if you want to be a part of Tuple. They share their ups and downs, fears and triumphs!

  • 45: The Value of Teaching

    June 7th, 2018  |  41 mins 17 secs

    He’s back! Ben returns from traveling to Hong Kong. He shared his rails knowledge by helping someone who is building a business and using a rails app. He made performance improvements and refactored items. Derrick is also doing some Vim tutoring. Learning something new does not take long or a lot of money, and gets easier.

    Of course, both Ben and Derrick continue to work on their new products, as well. Derrick is creating Level, an open source team communication and management tool. Ben is starting Tuple, a pair programming tool alternative for Screenhero.

  • 44: Exploring the Open Source Business Model

    May 31st, 2018  |  26 mins 8 secs

    Rob Walling, co-founder at Drip, MicroConf organizer, and host of the Startups For the Rest of Us podcast, continues to co-host with Derrick while Ben is in Hong Kong. Rob is becoming a believer in 3 to 6 hour work days; he is more productive and has more motivation to get things done.

    As for Derrick, he read an article titled, After 5 years and $3M, here’s everything we’ve learned from building Ghost, which relates to the business model he is following for his Level product. Ghost is using the open source core product and it’s bootstrapped, which can be difficult. in this episode, Derrick pulls out a few pieces of the article that are relevant to share.

  • 43: Strategizing Product Validation

    May 24th, 2018  |  40 mins 16 secs

    Rob Walling joins Derrick once again as a guest co-host while Ben is traveling in Hong Kong. Rob was Derrick's co-founder at Drip, runs MicroConf, and hosts the Startups For the Rest of Us podcast.

    Derrick and Rob discuss the latest Level updates and strategize how best to approach previewing product mockups to potential customers. They discuss how the early phase of a startup is very fulfilling because you can be very creative, but also stressful because of risk and uncertainty. Rob gets Derrick's feedback about offering one-on-one founder consulting in his spare time.

  • 42: Fostering a Culture of Creativity with Rob Walling

    May 17th, 2018  |  1 hr 36 secs

    Ben is away, so Derrick invited a special guest for this episode. Rob Walling was the co-founder of Drip and is the co-host of MicroConf. Rob recently removed Slack from his phone, and is waiting for Derrick’s Level product.

    Level is an open source team communication tool that Derrick hopes will replace Slack among software teams. Others are looking forward to Level, as well, and wondering how many clients Level is going to be available on: mobile, desktop...As Derrick continues to work on Level, the two also reminisce about their days together at Drip.

  • 41: MicroConf 2018 Takeaways

    May 10th, 2018  |  31 mins 51 secs

    Ben and Derrick are recovering from days of being in Las Vegas for MicroConf. They spent time reconnecting with old friends, and making new friends. Knowledge floats around, and you can soak it all in. MicroConf has a culture of extreme transparency, helpfulness, friendliness, and wealth of value. Talks at the conference generated actionable items for and awe from attendees.

  • 40: MicroConf, Equity, and Corporate Entities

    May 3rd, 2018  |  19 mins 26 secs

    Ben and Derrick are together again, at MicroConf and working on their new products and businesses. From making T-shirts to thinking about finding funds, things are continuing to move forward.

    Derrick is focusing on Level, an open source team communication and management tool. Ben is considering the name, Tuple, for his pair programming tool alternative for Screenhero. He is focusing on all things business-related, from equity to entity options.

  • 39: Another New Beginning

    April 26th, 2018  |  26 mins 55 secs

    Derrick discovered his marketing and promotional tasks were eating up too much of his time and mind, so he took a break from them. He shifted his focus to the actual development of his product, Level. He made some forward strides on the product’s design.

    Ben decided to give notice and leave his current job for an opportunity to develop a Screenhero alternative. Screenhero is a pair programming tool that has a rough history with Slack. So, he has a co-founder, new technology findings from Stanford, and encouragement from original developers. Could anything be more aligned?! Ben’s alternative and Derrick’s Level is a match made in heaven.

  • 38: Choosing Tech Stack and Taking Preorders

    April 19th, 2018  |  18 mins 58 secs

    Derrick is still moving in the right direction with the product he is developing called, Level. He used Product Hunt’s Ship to set up a landing page. He plans to promote his upcoming product and control its launch.

    Also, Derrick published a blog post titled, Building Level #2: The Tech Stack. It summarizes his rationale and reasons why he chose specific technologies. Plus, he posted his and Ben’s conversation, Live Level #2: Branding and GraphQL Mutations, and created a Twitter handle for Level.

  • 37: Pairing and Building In Public

    April 12th, 2018  |  29 mins 28 secs

    Ben is now a Level contributor! Ben has paired with Derrick and his team communication and management tool called, Level - which is officially open source.

    Also, Derrick recorded himself building a Level feature and posted it on YouTube for feedback. It draws in people to see how an expert does things and share opinions and knowledge. It’s a win-win for everyone!

  • 36: Building Level

    April 5th, 2018  |  30 mins 2 secs

    Derrick continues to talk with customers and gain insights about a team communication and management tool he is developing called, Level. Derrick is developing personal connections with people interested in his mission, and his conversations with customers is reinforcing patterns.

    Today, he shares the main problems with “Chat” functionality and why people are frustrated with the tools they use today. He is exploring possible solutions for Level to replace Slack and other tools. What issues do you experience?

  • 35: Conducting Customer Development Interviews

    March 29th, 2018  |  46 mins 2 secs

    As part of his new business journey, Derrick requested that customers schedule time to talk with him about Level, a team communication and management tool he is developing. Luckily, about 40 people signed up, and he has completed 14 of these calls. What are his customers saying? They confirm main pains they feel with current tools and are very willing to share their frustrations with existing tools. Derrick has not been surprised yet about their answers.

    In Ben’s world, he is spending time on slinging and reading about Haskell. He is full of questions. Both Ben and Derrick are learning a lot every day, which is fulfilling and exciting.

  • 34: Maker vs. Manager

    March 15th, 2018  |  48 mins 29 secs

    It’s a Snow Day for Ben, and Derrick shares his woes about setting up his home office with two new, Dell monitors and his MacBook Pro featuring only two USB-C ports for a hub. You would think that laptops would offer more of a variety of ports. Other than that, things are going great for Derrick.

    On March 5, Derrick pushed out his manifesto via Twitter. In response, people shared, retweeted, and posted supportive thoughts and messages. Developers resonated with his message. And of course, there were a few skeptics who wondered how Derrick’s ideas were different from other team communication and management options. There will always be multiple tools that can be used, but Derrick has a particular approach to what he offers.

  • 33: The War on Developer Productivity

    March 8th, 2018  |  27 mins 41 secs

    Derrick recounts his last day at Drip - from being locked out, the elevator breaking, turning in parking passes, wearing a shirt saying “Quit Your Day Job,” to happy hour. He hadn’t even left yet and things were starting to fall apart!

    Although he has a feeling of being free now, he is bummed about not seeing his co-workers every day. However, he is excited to share his plans and personal mission for the near future - a project called, Level, based on balance, not chaos.