Pilot added real value to both our processes and the end product.
In early 2014, StandupMail approached Pilot to help build and launch a collaboration tool for teams. One year and a thousand users later, we spoke with Benedikt Bingler, Founder of StandupMail, on his experience working with our team.
Tell us about StandupMail.
The idea originally came from the experience of working with development and product teams. It’s inspired by the whole agile and scrum development process which we were pursuing, and the main problem we wanted to tackle was keeping everyone in sync in terms of progress. Teams often use different tools, which makes it difficult to understand what has been accomplished.
First thing in the morning, for example, you might want to know the current status of the project, where everyone is standing in terms of their current tasks. This is missing from a lot of collaborative tools that teams use today—it’s a big communication gap that leads to inefficiency and people not knowing what to do next, waiting for things, and wrongly prioritising their tasks.
We came up with StandupMail, which is a simple solution that doesn’t require teams to learn a new tool. It sends people a daily reminder via email asking them to list what they have got accomplished, their goals, and any things blocking their progress. They reply to the email with a simple bullet list, and we then compile the replies overnight and put them into a nicely designed digest that is shared with the rest of the team the next morning.
It’s an effective way to start the day. It’s great for distributed companies.
What was the problem you were facing?
We had the idea, but we needed a prototype. I’m a product-focused guy, so I knew exactly what I wanted to build, but I didn’t have the resources. I was specifically looking for a team, a professional team, that I could lead and rely on to create an MVP. I set a pretty ambitious deadline.
Why did you turn to Pilot?
I met some of the founding Pilot team back in 2011, and ended up working with them on various small projects. I touched base with Pilot again in 2014—now the team was much bigger—and asked how they could help.
Pilot proposed a small, expert development team that could be with me in a matter of days, and also suggested taking some of their professional working processes to help reach the deadline without compromising on quality.
How did Pilot help?
I worked with two remote developers, Michal and Mateusz, and joined them with one of our in-house front-end developers for the first two months.
I immediately appreciated the fact that I could work with both of them directly, which made specifying the technical details a lot easier—going through project managers often complicates things. This way I made sure things were being built the way I wanted them to be built.
Fundamentally, Pilot helped with implementation—the nuts and bolts of writing code, and both Michal and Mateusz were really good at it. I was confident leaving some software design decisions to them, and a number of these decisions had a really positive impact on the product.
Throughout the process, the account executive was super cooperative and helpful. The entire process, from start to finish, put the task of building the MVP first—everything else was taken care of in the background.
What did you like most about working with your team?
Both Michal and Mateusz were friendly and expert, and following the soft launch we continued working with Mateusz—in fact, we still work with him today.
Having a good vibe with the person you’re working with is important to me, and I have this with Mateusz. He’s smart, he knows our product well, where we want to take it, and how to get there.
I also appreciated the availability of the team. If the service went offline, I could reach out to them and they would help me right away. This was really good considering StandupMail is a small effort, and I have no one here full-time that is doing system rescuing.
It’s really, really important to work with reliable people when you have something running on production.
What were the results? What did Pilot help you achieve?
Pilot helped me get my product to production, and to date we have over 1,000 people using it in beta. We have some customers paying for it as well, so it’s good to know we’re providing a quality service for the money. We even made it to the front page of Product Hunt when we had our soft launch!
The team also helped me solve one big problem: time zone differences. Both Michal and Mateusz proposed some sensible workarounds, and without them we probably would have soft-launched a lot later.
Can you give us a brief testimonial on your Pilot experience?
We had an idea but needed a team to help us build it to a tight deadline. Pilot gave us the talent to make it happen, and added real value to both our processes and the end product. We’re still happily working with the team today.