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SimpleCrew Story

Looking back on the first SimpleCrew sketches.

As people, we tend to normalize our current state, and take it for granted after a few weeks.

Like that whole idea that 2 months after getting a raise, it’s not your raise any more, it’s just your salary.

A similar thing happens in business. Every time we ship a major update or feature, we get a big rush seeing it make it’s way into your hands and getting feedback from you.

And then, after a few weeks, it becomes just another part of the app. Something we take for granted.

You might notice the same thing in your life or your business. How impatient do you feel right now about getting to the next milestone? Happens to us all the time.

With that in mind, it really helps to look back – over 3 months, 6 months, a year, or more – and remember how far you’ve come.

This is all a ramble… in the spirit of an old notebook I just stumbled across earlier this week. The notebook included some of the earliest sketches of SimpleCrew, from when it was just an idea.

I dated them late 2010, making it almost 4 years old today. It’s great to look back on these and remember the progress we’ve made and where we’ve come from.

Check it out:

Classic.

If you ever get hungry and impatient, just look back over a year or two years and take a minute to appreciate the progress you’ve made.

It does wonders for the soul.

Categories
SimpleCrew Story

How we came up with the idea for our startup.

I’ve been asked how we had the original idea for SimpleCrew a couple times in the last week, so I thought it’d be a fun story to share with you folks here…

An original SimpleCrew Development Screenshot

When I was in high school, I started doing street team work for 930 club and Steez Promo around Baltimore/DC.

Later in college I started managing street teams for regional music festivals, FanManager.net (Disco Biscuits, Crystal Method, and Shpongle, to name a few), and eventually Red Bull as a Brand Manager.

At the time, I was managing spreadsheets of 1000+ team members around the country, and I was having them all email me photos.

Can you imagine? It was brutal.

The iPhone came out in 2007, and for the next 5 years I waited for the app that would connect all the cameras in a “private photo sharing app” so to speak.

By 2012 I figured if nobody was doing it yet, I might as well give it a shot.

My friend Mark introduced me to Mike, and together, we started working on it.

We launched in September 2012, and have been building since 🙂

What can you learn from this?

The takeaway here is this: If you’d like to start a business or a startup but you’re not sure where to begin or what idea to pursue, just stop and take a minute to look at what’s around you.

Observe where the pain points are in your every day life. Think about industries that are underserved. Think about problems might be common throughout the industry and what services or products you might be able to build to serve those markets.

And once you get started on your first idea, new ones will keep rolling in. In fact – the tricky part once you get started will be learning which ideas to say “No” to.

Finally, don’t fret about competition. If your brilliant idea has any respectable market for it, the market can support multiple players. A competitor in a big market killing you would be like a whale trying to kill a dolphin by drinking all the water in the ocean.

If your market’s real, go for it. Otherwise, don’t bother. Don’t worry about competition when you’re just getting started.

Categories
Street teams

3 Awesome Apps for Street Team Communication

SimpleCrew solves a very particular communication issue for groups and teams – namely, internal photo sharing for businesses.

Whenever your group needs to take and share photos internally – whether for documenting work, accountability, project management, or communication – SimpleCrew makes that sharing process easy, efficient, and painless.

But whenever you’re working with teams, broader communication is important. Whether through email, chat, or phone – other tools can help you keep in touch with your team, so you can work together more effectively.

Here’s a few tools we recommend that will fit nicely alongside SimpleCrew as you and your team do your thing:

1. HipChat (Group Chat)

HipChat is a group chat application for teams.

Remember those old AOL chatrooms back in the day? A/S/L?

HipChat’s kind of like that – it gives your team a common room to chat in.

With group chat, you’ll be able to have a single, central communication channel to communicate things like project goals, ask questions, have general chit-chat, etc…

If, like most street teams, your team is somewhat loosely associated and doesn’t meet in person very often, it can be helpful to have a central chat like HipChat to bring everyone together and give everyone a chance to connect and interact.

One killer thing about HipChat is that it’s cross-platform. Meaning you can download HipChat apps on iPhone, Android, Mac, Windows, and you can even use it from the browser.

Other features of HipChat include file-sharing, the ability to go 1:1 chat with anyone else in the group, search history, and even video chat and screen sharing as a premium feature ($2/mo per user).

The only thing I don’t like about HipChat is that you can’t join multiple groups with one email address. Meaning if you’re a part of multiple teams using HipChat, you have to use different email addresses for each group.

That’s kind of a pain in the ass for folks like me (and, most likely, you) who juggle multiple projects.

Other than the premium video and screen-sharing features, HipChat is free for unlimited users. Check it out at HipChat.com

HipChat Alternatives:

  • Slack – Very close HipChat competitor. More functions/features and more polished design. A little more complex UI. Free for unlimited users, premium features additional monthly.
  • Flowdock – Free for up to 5 people, $3/mo/user after
  • Check out this comparison chart of HipChat vs Slack vs Flowdock
  • CampFire – 37Signal’s group chat offering. Plans start at $12/mo for up to 12 chatters.

2. Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups are an awesome, free central communication channel for your team.

First, everyone’s already on Facebook and checking it regularly, so the on-boarding process is painless. Just enter everyone’s names and they’ll be on board.

You can use the group to coordinate your team, share files/photos/videos, start discussions, and engage your team.

And because of the social aspect, you can give your team a chance to interact with each other and connect on a social level if they don’t all already know each other already.

We see a lot of SimpleCrew customers using Facebook Groups as a great free compliment to SimpleCrew, so it might be something your team can implement as well.

To create a group, go to Facebook.com/groups and click the “Create Group” button.

3. Google Groups

The last tool I wanted to share was actually what inspired this post. I set up a private Google Group recently for some business contacts and realized it would be a perfect tool for street team communication.

If you’re not familiar, Google Groups (https://groups.google.com/) are kind of like a hybrid between an email list and a forum.

In fact, I have mine set up to do both.

Basically, when you create a Google Group and invite a bunch of people, Google Groups sets up a group email address.

When anyone in the group emails that address, it goes out to everyone else in the group, creating an email thread that people can reply to and see everyone’s responses.

In that way, it’s like a group email list.

The group also accessible as a message board-style interface (pictured above). You can access the groups message board on the Google Groups site, or even embed it as an iframe on a page of your website if you like.

If you access the group from the message board and create new topics or respond to existing topics through the board, your team will receive updates the same way they received email responses, so it’s a pretty seamless experience.

So there you go.

Wanted to share the quick run-down of group chat and communication tools I thought might help you guys work together alongside SimpleCrew.

Do you have any other project management tools in your arsenal? Or any questions about the tools I listed above? If so, drop a line in the comments and let me know.

Read Next: 6 Street Team Software Applications To Help You Manage Your Street Team.