SimpleCrew Story

SimpleCrew’s Startup Chile Application

To go along with an upcoming guest-post on Maneesh Sethi’s “Hack The System” blog, here are the details of our application that got us accepted into Startup Chile’s 2013 program:

Public Description (50 words or less)

SimpleCrew is a mobile app that allows street teams to communicate and coordinate using photos. Our app save teams time and energy, making them more effective and more accountable:

Industry: Mobile & Wireless

Country: United States

Company URL:


What is the problem you are solving?

In industries including field marketing, property management, construction project management, insurance inspections, and more, photos play a critical role in business

Photos are used to document work, report progress, maintain accountability, communicate with clients, and more.

Taking and organizing photos is a mess of point & shoot cameras, photo uploads/downloads, email attachments, and desktop folders.

There are time delays, while managers wait for cameras to get back to the office.

There are syncing issues, with no easy way to make sure everyone has access to the same folders.

What is your product or service?

Today, using SimpleCrew, teams can now upload photos via our iPhone and Android apps directly to the team’s database hosted securely in the cloud.

It happens instantly, so team members don’t have to worry about sending emails or uploading photos later.

And every photo includes time and location info, so teams can see organized campaign summaries with timelines and maps showing exactly when and where each photo was submitted from.

How far are you from having an MVP (minimum viable product)? MVP is done

What phase of development is your company in? Functional Product with Users

Are you incorporated? Yes

Who will you be selling your product or services to?

We’re focusing first on real estate investors and grassroots marketing teams. Our main sales channels are direct marketing, event sponsorships (real estate investor conventions), email marketing, and content marketing.

  • 2.2mm real estate investors in the US.
  • 150,000 property/real estate managers in US
  • 195,000 construction managers in US
  • 47,000 event promoters in US
  • 32,000 advertising/marketing agencies in US

We launched a public beta on September 17, and have gotten an enthusiastic response from both industries.

Who are your competitors and how are they different?

Currently there are indirect competitors doing similar things for other industries, or focusing on different aspects of field team management.

HD Trade Services is using mobile photos for import/export businesses. Not our core target:

Electionear uses mobile apps to manage political canvassing campaigns. Not our core business:

Servicebridge offers mobile apps for companies managing field teams like
plumbers/electricians/limousines, etc:

Instagram and Facebook Groups offer mobile photos and private groups. Not built for businesses.

Currently, there aren’t direct competitors in our market, due to the relatively new opportunity of proliferated smart phones cameras.

How does your company make money? Monthly subscription fees:

Have you already raised any capital? Yes – <$50,000

If so, who are your investors? John Campbell, CTO of

Do you have any adivsory board members or mentors? Yes.

Why are you applying to Startup Chile?

We are scrappy, but still need to supplement our small amount of funding with minimal freelance work. The 40k grant will give
us the freelance-free 6 month runway to bootstrap to “Ramen profitability”.

Additionally, co-founder Mike McCabe, has strong ties to Chile through the exchange program at UC San Diego with Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. In 2009, he spent 4 incredible weeks traveling Chile with 12 Chilean friends he met at UCSD, including Felipe del Sol Fernandez of AdMetricks, a current SUP company.

He had a true insider experience and has had the desire to return ever since.

How will you contribute to the Chilean entrepreneurial environment?
Mike and Alan have an extensive network of over 200 start-up peers, mentors and professionals from Yelp, Techstars Seattle, 2 Techstars for a Day events, and persistent networking. We know the importance of a warm introduction and plan to leverage our network in anyway possible to help out our fellow SUP cohorts.

We’ve already been mentors to a 1st time tech entrepreneur. We are more excited than he to have Blur It app under review in apple’s app store. Being mentors is something we are very much looking forward to.

When possible, we will hire local Chileans before outsourcing.

What communities do you belong to and how do you contribute to them?

Red Bull North America – former brand manager, now connect with leads. – founded jam band/electronic music community. – former sales. Maintains relationships with managers and directors in NYC.

Mike :
Founder’s co-op and TechStars Seattle: Mike was a 2011 TS Hackstar in the shared workspace between Techstars Seattle and Founder’s
co-op. He still remains active in google groups email chain for both TS and FC and attends the yearly Techstars networking reunion.
PistonAgency, San Diego: Current freelance work for international companies such as Oakley, Mitsubishi, and Yakult.

What is your Action Plan for the 6 months in Chile?
Month 1
Direct Marketing/Sales

Month 2
Paid Marketing, continued direct marketing

Month 3
Continued paid, continued SEO, continued direct marketing.

Month 4
Continued paid , continued SEO, continued direct marketing

Month 5
Continued paid, continued SEO, continued direct marketing

Month 6
Continued paid, continued SEO, continued direct marketing:

Your personal detailsAbout the Founder
Name: Alan VanToai

University: University of Maryland

Degree and Area of Study: Business, Marketing

Brief Bio

Co-Founder of SimpleCrew.

Formerly Co-Founder of – an online magazine for the jam and electronic music communities.

Former Account Executive at – supported local business with Yelp Advertising packages.

Former Regional Brand Manager at Red Bull North America – manage regional and local marketing campaigns for Red Bull in DC and Baltimore.

Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America.

Team: Letter of Recommendation Highlights

“Alan VanToai and Mike McCabe – the founders of SimpleCrew – impressed me from the beginning. They combined the dedication and energy often seen in young entrepreneurs, with the focus and talent usually reserved for the older, more experienced
How long have you been working full time on this project?

6-12 months

How many people are working full time on this company?


Why are you and your team members the perfect team to lead this project?

Mike and I are the quintessential hacker/hustler duo. Mike is a talented full-stack developer with a knack for creating software that solves real world problems.

I’m a business hustler who knows the market and can sell to it.

Team Member Information
(1) Team Member Name: Michael James McCabe

(1) University:  University of California, San Diego & University of Delaware

(1) Degree and Area of Study: M.S. Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics (UCSD) & Honors B.S. Electrical Engineering (UD)

(1) Brief Bio
PistonAgency, Jan 2012 – present: Freelance development for international companies such as Mitsubishi, Oakley and Yakult., Feb 2012 – Partnered with and to build a tour guide platform with our first tours from Paris. We are
currently in apple app store.

Techstars Seattle Hackstar, 2011 – Worked closely with and built a phonegap mobile app for

Northstar Internet Inc, 2009-2011 – –
freelance web development

SimpleCrew Story

Chile! Chile!

It’s official! We got in 🙂

Last Thursday, Mike and I were chilling in San Diego waiting for my flight home to DC. We’d applied to Startup Chile two months ago in early October. It was last minute – we scrambled to compile and submit our application with just a couple hours to go before deadline. But we got our application in, and at 11am on Thursday, they released the announcement.

Mike and I were sitting next to each other on our respective computers. We both raced through the link, Control+F’d to search “SimpleCrew”, and arrived on our name in practically the same instant.

We lost it. There was our name. We’re going to Chile.

Funny story about our celebratory champagne…

Our friend Tiste actually brought over a bottle champagne about two weeks before, to celebrate our first conversion from trial to paying customer (we have the 30-day free trial, so new accounts take 30 days before they convert to paying).

For some reason we didn’t end up drinking the bottle that night, and every night for two weeks we joked about popping the bottle. But every time, we decided we should wait for another something to celebrate.

Some time earlier last week we realized that the Startup Chile announcement was going to be made on Thursday. As hard as we tried to stay outcome independent, we couldn’t help but get excited and anxious about the possibility of moving to Chile to build and sell our product for the 6 month program.

So we waited on that bottle, and Thursday at 11am, our celebratory thirst was quenched with that bottle that had been teasing us for the two weeks prior. Delayed gratification at it’s sweetest.

Looking Forward.
Mike and I are blown away. We couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to experience a new culture, a new city, and for immersion in a new language. But most importantly – we’re excited to build.

Since we started SimpleCrew back in February, both Mike and I have had to manage contract work and other priorities separate from SimpleCrew. And we’ve been 3000 miles apart, working remotely from DC and San Diego, respectively. We’ve made terrific progress, but it’s always been with some amount of financial concern, and a nation’s worth of distance in between.

With the program and included grant, we’re excited about the opportunity to be able to focus and work together on building our product and company and taking it to the next level.

Many Thanks
Many thanks to those of you that have continued support and enthusiasm. Milestones like these are fun to celebrate, but wouldn’t be as enjoyable or possible without you lot. Thanks to our families, friends, mentors, and investor (lookin’ at you, John).

It’s an exciting future. We’re looking forward to new heights. Upward and to the right.

SimpleCrew Story

A Simple Rebrand

We’re right around the corner from rolling out our first app to the world, and with that in mind, we figured it was due time for a rebrand 🙂



We also have a new launch site to look forward to! We’ll be rolling it out here in the next couple weeks, but here’s a little sneak peek 🙂

We’re pumped! Get ready guys, we’re coming for ya!

SimpleCrew Story

The SimpleCrew Timeline

A little sneak peak of the SimpleCrew Timeline.

Using the SimpleCrew mobile app, field teams submit photos of work in progress (grassroots marketing, outside sales, real estate prospecting, etc…). Photos are sent directly from the field, so team members don’t have to bother with tedious photo uploading and organizing at the end of the day.

Using the time and location info from the photos, we can organize the team’s output in cool ways – like the timeline and map shown above. For the first time, teams and their managers will be able to get a comprehensive picture of their progress in the field.

We’re rolling out soon. Request an invite, and you’ll be the first to know.

SimpleCrew Story

What is SimpleCrew?

The SimpleCrew Story:

A few years ago, our co-founder Alan was a regional brand manager for Red Bull. He managed those teams of Red Bull reps who would go around and sample Red Bull in the field. At the same time, his mother Tara worked in the field as an agricultural scientist with the USDA. Over time, Alan and his mother realized their jobs shared something in common – photos and reports from the field played a vital role in both their processes.

For Alan, photos were crucial for keeping his team accountable to him, and keeping him accountable to his higher-ups. And Marketing surveys from the field were painstakingly collected and entered into Red Bull’s “Sampling Data Center” – an important market knowledge database at the center of their grassroots marketing efforts.

For Tara, photos were crucial in tracking and organizing the progress of various experiments at research sites around the region. Similarly, surveys and other data had to be collected from the field, and entered into a central database for their team to interpret.

For both Alan and Tara, the processes of collecting and organizing these photos and reports from their teams in the field were painfully inefficient and outdated. Their systems were a messy combination of point-and-shoot cameras and clipboards, excel spreadsheets, data-entry, and email attachments.

What we do:

SimpleCrew is a mobile team management application. We make field teams and their managers more effective, and more accountable.

Using the SimpleCrew App, mobile team members submit photos and reports directly from the field. All submissions are time and location stamped and sent directly to their database, eliminating the need for intermediary data-entry.

On the SimpleCrew online dashboard, managers can oversee the team’s progress with organized campaign summaries, which they can easily track, publish, and share.

SimpleCrew Story

Hello World!

Welcome to the SimpleCrew Blog 🙂

It’s been an exciting 2012 for us here at SimpleCrew. Since our founding, we’ve been hacking and hustling with laser focus, and have set an exciting pace for ourselves as we round the corner on our 3rd month.

Already, we’ve experienced some exciting milestones. Looking forward, we’re excited to share those milestones and updates with you guys here at the SimpleCrew blog.

In addition to our company updates, we look forward to developing this blog as a resource base for mobile field teams. Through extensive research, ongoing conversations with countless teams and managers, and our own experiences in field team management, we’ve been exposed to a wealth of ideas and insights on the art of mobile team management. What better place to share them but here?

So again, welcome, and thanks for looking in. Check back soon. You’ll be glad you did 🙂