SimpleCrew Story

The key to motivation is tracking

Without results to track, self motivation is like swimming upstream.

As Ben Horowitz wrote in The Hard Things About Hard Things, “there are only two ways for a manager to improve the output of an employee: motivation and training.” That probably comes as no surprise to business owners and entrepreneurs, but is much easier said than done.

After all, difficult and laborious tasks can make motivation hard to maintain–even among the most driven of individuals. This is where a little hack comes in handy: tracking. Deliberate, consistent, active tracking.

What makes tracking effective in pushing through limits and resistance points?

At SimpleCrew, we hear (and see first hand) how tracking can change the trajectory of a business. But what does that really mean? In reality, tracking is simply data. And much like any set of data, how you use it and what you use it to measure is more important than anything else. Afterall, too much data can be equally ineffective as no data.

At the end of the day, when we correlate tracking and motivation, the best way to look at it is through the lens of the individual. I found myself sinking into this realization when I experienced how beneficial tracking was in my personal life, particularly in the fitness arena.

1. Performance tracking inadvertently leads to performance enhancement.

Over the last two months, I have been swimming every single week. This is notable because my fitness regime is usually a bit more sporadic, and a lot less consistent (ha). Initially, I figured it was likely due to Olympics 2020 fever. But I’ve since realized that my new routine is actually due to the purchase of a new gadget.

I got an apple watch.

Somehow, I never knew how similar personal fitness tracking was in comparison to business tracking until I started using the watch. It is incredibly easy to track a workout with a few quick taps and swipes. Once I got past the initial hump of starting, tracking my workouts became as second nature as brushing my teeth.

In fact, it is more than second nature, it has become… dare I say it, addictive. After 2 months of consistent use, I can say with confidence that tracking my swims is the single most motivating element of my current workout routine. It keeps me going week in and week out.

I want to see what I can do. How many laps can I swim this week? How long can I swim for? The tracking gave me something to show for my workouts. It created a competitive drive within myself which motivated me to keep showing up, keep competing against myself, and keep attempting to do better than my last performance.

While the tracking itself gamified my swim experience, what got me hooked was the unexpected outcome. The results. While I didn’t set out to swim every single week, the workout tracking kept me going again and again, and inadvertently led to better performance in my swims.

2. Reports highlight tangible results and showcase quantitative progress.

The more you track, the more you want to track. Ever since I began tracking my swim, I’ve been more consistent with my workout frequency. While I don’t check the reports of my apple watch often, I can feel my excitement each time I do. 

Knowing that I have been pushing myself, feeling the level of motivation with my weekly swims, performance reports are like little gifts waiting to be opened. This is in sharp contrast to when I was inconsistent with my swims. Now, with the amount of tracking I’ve done, I eagerly look forward to seeing quantitative progress.

For example, in a recent peek into my performance, I compared two workouts roughly 6 weeks apart (June 10 vs July 20). Crazy enough, I not only swam 34% further– I also swam 30% faster. Seeing the results is about as motivating as it can get. Especially when it was an unexpected side effect of tracking.

The comparison of 2 workouts, screenshots from Apple watch tracker
  • 36.96% More laps
  • 34.04% Further
  • 22.44% More calories burned
  • 30.77% Faster

3. Goal setting becomes easier when you know what is possible.

Goals can feel lofty and ineffective if they are either too hard to achieve or too easy to accomplish. The ideal goal is one that challenges you within reach, pushing you outside of your limits to what is possible, without making it too easy. Tracking helps establish these goals. 

Before I tracked with my apple watch, I had no benchmark or starting point. I wouldn’t even know what a proper goal should be. I would swim without any intention of hitting a number of laps, or any amount of time. If I wanted to set a goal, I wouldn’t be motivated to hit it if I didn’t know I could accomplish it.

The data made available from tracking has made it easy for me to push myself. Since I’ve seen real numbers on what I can do, it creates an easy starting point for me.

The Key Takeaway

After experiencing the dramatic results from fitness tracking, it has become even more clear why tracking is so crucial to businesses. Much like in your personal life, business tracking requires two core elements. A device to do the tracking, and software to store the data and generate the reports.

You don’t need to be an olympic athlete to do the same tracking that professionals do. The Apple watch is always on you, and it’s easy to use. On that same note, you really don’t need to be an enterprise business to track your field crew. Phones are always on your team, and using SimpleCrew is as easy as snapping a photo.

If you need more motivation to do grassroots marketing try simple tracking with photos using SimpleCrew

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:


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.

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, (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.

SimpleCrew Story

SimpleCrew’s SaaS Metrics Dashboard

Check it out – here’s a snapshot of the business metrics dashboard the we’re going to be using to measure ourselves internally this year (and beyond):

Looking back on 2013 – we really didn’t pay too much attention to tracking and logging product data or business metrics. We’ve had Google Analytics on the marketing page, Mixpanel in the app, and have been using basic accounting software linked up with our bank account from the beginning.

We’d check in on certain numbers over time, but really, before a certain point, most of what a startup does is qualitative. 2013 was a year of building, shipping, and selling something people would find useful. And it doesn’t take many numbers to measure that. It takes more phone calls, emails, and basic observation.

But looking forward to 2014 – it feels right. It feels like it’s about that time that these numbers are going to grow into themselves and actually become meaningful, useful metrics which we can use to make our product and our business stronger.

It’s a work in progress, so please -share your feedback if you have any!

SimpleCrew Story

Start-Up Chile Demo Day Semifinals

Yesterday, we pitched in Start-Up Chile‘s Demo Day Quarterfinals. About 60 companies presented over the course of Thursday and Friday for a jury of 3 judges and an audience of fellow SUPpers.

Of the 60 entrants, 30 were selected to move on to the semifinals. For the semifinals, the 30 teams will pitch for 3 minutes to a private group of investors, with time for a Q&A after. From there, the top 15-20 will be selected to pitch as part of Start-Up Chile’s official Demo Days in Santiago and Silicon Valley in August.

Congratulations to all our friends who’ve advanced to the top 30 🙂  Here’s the list!

  1. Admetricks
  2. Agrimaps
  3. Aumentality
  4. Brickflow
  5. Cloudmeapp
  6. Comparisign
  7. Cottontracks
  8. Escapar
  9. Foodiepaws
  10. Glamping Hub
  11. Keepapix
  12. Kiddo
  13. Kudo Learning
  14. Let´s Jock
  15. Luqit
  16. Medko
  17. Medsensation
  18. Mewe
  19. Nuflick
  20. Paonde
  21. Purplu
  22. Qonf
  23. Re:3D
  24. Ringtu
  25. Ropit
  26. SimpleCrew
  27. Soukboard
  28. Syrenaica
  29. The City Game
  30. Tutum Cloud

(See more pictures in our Start-Up Chile Demo Day Campaign on SimpleCrew!)

SimpleCrew Story

All Good Music Festival (Doing it Right!)

I have a special place in my heart for All Good Music Festival.

8 years ago, during the summer before my junior year of high school, a group of friends and I from my hometown headed to Masontown, WV for the 9th annual All Good Festival, and were treated to a music festival experience of a lifetime.

In some ways, that festival shaped my life.

That year, All Good exposed me to a lifestyle and community that I grew to love. Over the next 6-7 years, my life revolved around that community. With friends from home and school I followed my favorite bands around the country and bounced from festival to festival during the summers. All Good was a staple every year – I only missed one in the 8 years since.

All Good’s host company All Good Presents (formerly Walther Productions) gave me my first job in the music industry – a winter internship during my Sophomore year at University of Maryland. In their home office outside Frederick, MD, I met Tim, Junipa, Mook, Brett, and Blake – the team behind All Good and the numerous local shows between VA, MD, and DC.

With them, I had the chance to peak behind the curtain and learn about the industry I loved. From booking to marketing to production, I learned what went in to making the magic happen on stage. It was awesome.

After the internship, I continued working with All Good Presents as a street teamer for local shows around DC and Baltimore. It was a beautiful arrangement, the only way I could’ve afforded to go to all the amazing concerts All Good Presents was putting on every month.

It was from those experiences that I grew to love street teaming, and it was from that love that SimpleCrew was born.

So, in how I partied with my friends, then got my first job, and now in this very startup, All Good played a role in shaping my life.

Back in November when SimpleCrew launched, I started speaking with Jeff, All Good’s Marketing Director, about the app. After 3-4 months of back and forth, Jeff and the All Good team signed up, bringing again the recurring theme of All Good in my life. It’s a full circle of sorts.

It’s been a thrill watching them dominate the midwest with their street team using the app. To date they have over 500 photos posted from 50 team members across 9 different states, and they’re growing every day.

A picture is worth 1000 words though, so I’ll let this one do the talking. It’s amazing to see, and I couldn’t be more proud. Thanks, All Good! 🙂

SimpleCrew Story

We were voted a Top 20 Start-Up Chile company :)

We’re super pumped to report that we were voted a Top 20 Start-Up Chile company!

On Monday and Tuesday this week, all 100 companies in Generation 6 presented their 3 minute progress update pitches. (Read about our presentation!)

The pitches were judged by a panel of professionals and our peers, and the results tallied. The top 20 teams were notified earlier this week, and we were one of them 🙂

We’re flattered and excited to take part in Start-Up Chile’s “Highway” program, a program to connect the top 20 teams with extra resources and mentorship from local professionals.

Thanks Start-Up Chile!


SimpleCrew Story

Start Up Chile Progress Day

Hey guys!

I’m Romain, the newest member of the SimpleCrew team. I’m French, and I’m very excited to work with Alan and Mike! I’ll be in charge of the new business opportunities here in Chile, so wish me luck 🙂

Today was the first day of Start Up Chile Progress Day, where we all had to pitch our current business activities – what we’ve done so far and what is left to do during our 6 months here. SimpleCrew went 42nd out of 50, so we had to wake the crowd up after the passionate but long series of presentations of our fellow suppers! So Alan started by a demo of a example campaign with a photo of the room, and it went well 🙂

Here are the slides from SimpleCrew’s presentation. Check it out!

The idea for SimpleCrew came when Alan and his mother realized they shared a similar pain in their respective jobs – Alan as a brand manager of Red Bull and his mother, Tara, as a agricultural scientist for the USDA.

Tara and her team used photos to track the progress of research experiments in the field, and Red Bull’s team used photos to track the progress of marketing work in the field.

They were both using point-and-shoot cameras, and then transferring files or sending emails with their teams to sync-up photos. It was a mess, and with mobile, they realized there was a better way.

The SimpleCrew solution is simple – a mobile photo app for teams. For a live demo, we took the photo of the group and showed the photo on the SimpleCrew campaign.

We then walked through three examples of photo campaigns from some SimpleCrew customers.

As for the business model, here are the 4 different subscriptions that we offer ranging from $20/month to $180/month, depending on how big the teams are.

So far, we’ve been able to have 9 paying customers, up from 7 since the start of Start-Up Chile. Our goal is to reach 60 by October with big expectations for the Chilean market!

Then we showed this market size slide that included a great stat – 49,000+ businesses in the Live Music, Sports, and Event Promotion industry in the United States.

If we maintain an average revenue per customer of $50/month, we’ll be a $1MM/year business when we reach 1,667 customers.

And event promotions are just the tip of the iceberg, there’s plenty more use cases for SimpleCrew!

We can see from this graph huge rises in the number of photos uploaded per week with more than 1000 photos uploaded last week! We look forward to seeing the future results!

Due to critical bug issues after the iOS 6 release, we also initiated a fully native mobile app development for iOS and Androïd with new features and higher “fluidity” in the apps.

This is it for Start Up Chile Progress Day, thanks for reading!


SimpleCrew Story

And we’re off! Destination Chile!

Catchin’ a 7pm flight out of Baltimore. We’ll be in Santiago around 9am Friday morning to start our Startup Chile adventure!

SimpleCrew Story

100+ App Installs on Android :)

I was checking out our developer stats for our Android app today and saw that we broke the 100 installs benchmark earlier this week! It actually happened on my birthday, January 28 🙂


As of today, Sunday Feb 3, we’re at 105 Total User Installs on Android, and 83 “Active Device Installs”. I’m honestly not sure what usage benchmarks Google is using to define an active vs inactive user, but 83 out of 105 sounds good to me 🙂

I’d share our iOS stats, but, oddly, Apple’s “Sales and Trends” dashboard for app developers doesn’t give you an easy way to visualize how many total app downloads you have. Weird.

Anyways… Upward and to the right! Go Ravens!