The 14 year old startup
Three months ago we launched our new product and effectively rebooted our entire company. Rebooting is difficult, even when you a the leading creative studio management tool with over 14 years of experience and 8000 existing users worldwide. Becoming a startup is a process riddled with potential pitfalls. So in 2015 we enlisted the help of For The People, a creative agency who like us – are trying to do things differently. Their Founders were also very much anti studio/project management software, so who better to help re-imagine what a studio management tool should be.
This post focuses on a presentation given by Andy Wright, Co-Founder of For The People in our Sydney offices in February 2016. It was the first time our entire worldwide team (18 lovely people) had been in one room in the company’s history. Following a startup structure, we retrained, refocused, re-imagined, re-aligned the team and shared/discussed all the work that had happened to date. In his talk (see below), Andy focused on our journey to date, the challenges we are facing as well as some of the fundamental ideas that have guided our new product. The week was an opportunity for us all to understand the significant change we were going through.
We had gathered some clear insights from our existing customers over the years, but For The People didn’t take our word for it. They spoke to some of those customers, some companies that had left us and companies that had never used us.
“To be honest, I really don’t want to know how much time we’ve spent on something. It’s generally always more. You are never really being completely compensated. It’s inevitable. We over deliver.” – Existing Streamtime Classic customer.
It was clear that a major disconnect existed between how current project management tools were tracking the success of a project and the actual work that the agency was putting in. We were also conscious that the way people work today was different to how they did 14 years ago when our classic product was first released. We knew that a fundamental rethink of the role Streamtime played in helping companies run smoothly and ultimately more successfully was needed. We decided the only way to tackle these and other challenges faced by organisations of today, was to start again.
Is the status quo inevitable?
“You’ve got people killing themselves in your business, they’re working late nights sending emails, or their coming in at the weekend. And you look at their timesheets and they’re saying 7.5, 7.5, 7.5. How can you even do anything with that? I don’t know how you can run a business with that. Yet we all know it’s happening & as the lady in previous slide said it’s inevitable. But I wonder whether it is.” – Andy Wright
For The People could of course fall back on their many years of experience in the industry, Andy reflected on some of his experiences which also became a guide to some of the area’s our new product had to address.
He recalled times when he would be hounded for going over budget with all work ordered to be stopped immediately – usually by the Financial Director.
“It’s very hard for someone to come in and say to me. You’re over budget.”
“…funnily enough we work in a creative industry. And the hardest thing about the creative industry, is trying to put a time limit on how long it takes to come up with something creative. It’s actually impossible.” – Andy Wright
We obviously don’t think that the status quo is inevitable, in fact we’ve invested a lot of time and money challenging it. It’s not an easy thing changing deep-rooted, inherent practices but building an app that works for an agency of the calibre of For The People is a good place to start.
Business software is changing
Our Founder Aaron Green realised this some time ago, and Andy agreed – the apps we use in our professional lives and the apps we use in our personal lives are converging. The days of rigid, time driven ‘grey’ apps that are used as a tool to keep tabs on perceived staff productivity are fading. That software was purchased by a senior staff member and implemented across the company, this has been flipped on it’s head.
“The end user does matter. We are in a position now where not everything is run by the person that purchases the product/software. We’re actually run by the person that uses it. And that’s so much more important.”
“It also means that end users need stuff to be a little bit more fun.” – Andy Wright
So now…what does that mean for Streamtime?
Months of research by For The People, 14 years of experience building studio management software and hearing our customer pain points led us to one specific question “…how do we redesign Streamtime. How do we address some of the frustrations that we have seen and observed?”
We started by trying to create a much more human approach to creating tools for…humans!
7 principles were penned that would define the future of our product:
So how are we tracking today?
We are three months in after our soft launch and approx NZD $4m of investment since we first started exploring a web only solution. Our focus is on continuing our daily hunt for more traction in a saturated project management market.
“Suddenly, anyone who can code, who gives a shit about project management can make their own.” – Andy Wright
We are averaging 17 new companies in our trial a day and have a small growth team with a target of making that triple figures. Functionality wise we believe we have introduced some unique ideas which will continue to be refined. Time tracking made easy with auto-populated to-do lists, data interpretation with smart dashboard and deep analytics, team scheduling, simple job planning and tracking as well as estimating and invoicing via Xero – all with a focus on simplicity and gorgeous clean design – Streamtime are finalists in four categories for the 2016 Best Design Awards.
With two week sprints producing new functionality and continued refinement at a rapid pace – having a poke around our free trial is time well spent!