Today’s post is more of a journal entry about my visit to Basecamp:
My customers know how big of a fan I am of the popular project management software, Basecamp. They know I use it and push them to use it all the time. It is simply an excellent tool for contractors to use to communicate with each other and for management and staff to check in on their teams.
This week, I flew to Chicago to attend a business consulting conference for home improvement contractors. Before the conference, I spent a day in downtown Chicago as a tourist. While I was grabbing a cup of coffee and catching up on my emails, I realized that the Basecamp headquarters was located in downtown Chicago. For many years now, one of my goals has been to visit Basecamp. I did not have a phone number, but I emailed one of my contacts who helps run the iOS development team. I am one of their beta testers, so I figured that it couldn’t hurt to ask if I could pop in for a visit.
I was surprised to hear right back, “Absolutely. Come on over!” The majority of Basecamp employees actually live all over the U.S. and in a few other countries, as well. I was surprised to learn that they were having an all-company meeting the week I was in town.
That afternoon, I walked to the headquarters to fulfill one of my business goals: getting a tour of Basecamp, meeting the staff and their founder, Jason Fried.
In some circles, Basecamp has a cult following similar to Apple’s. I’m one of those fanboys. The product has helped me manage over 35 ongoing projects and hundreds of thousands of tasks without stressing out. So obviously I was like a kid in a candy shop when I got to meet their team.
Great Place to Work
The tour only lasted 10 minutes. There really was not too much to see. The architecture and layout of the offices and spaces were great. You can it check it out here. It was a very chill place to work for sure! What was most impressive was just seeing the employees and how they really seemed to love working there. Twice a year, Basecamp flies their employees into Chicago for a week-long visit. They are required to work during this visit. It is sort of a mandatory “vacation” if you will but it’s also a way for them to connect with their team in person. They were not accommodating visitors when I popped in for my visit. So they were not putting on a show for me. The Basecamp staff was hard at work. They were all in meetings, brainstorming, collaborating, taking notes, etc. to make their product better. Yet they did not have to do this! It was impressive to see employees working when they were not required to do so to make their company better.
A 90 Minute Meeting
The iOS developer asked if I minded sitting down with his team while I was there to discuss how I use Basecamp and how my painting clients do as well. They were really interested in learning how they could improve their product. I found out too that I was one of the top mobile users of their product (and there are millions of users – not sure if that is a good thing that I’m using it so much or not!). Anyway, before our meeting, I was introduced to Jason Fried, their founder. He was just as I expected him to be: friendly, professional yet super chill and a good conversationalist. I have such respect for how he has built Basecamp and not been distracted trying to build a program that does everything. Instead, it simply does project and internal communications beautifully.
What I thought would be a 10-15 minute meeting with the iOS team lasted close to 90 minutes. I was able to screencast my iPhone and walk them through how I use Basecamp. I then shared a couple of painting customer’s projects and how they use it. We had some great dialogue about improvements and obviously my wishlist. Basecamp is not perfect. I want it to do more, so I was able to share some of those things with the team and why I thought mobile users would benefit.
Basecamp for Painters
2017 has been the biggest year for me in terms of convincing many painters over to sign up and use Basecamp. They are beginning to use it with their field employees to post pictures, check-in, chat, manage job tasks and much more. My goal for 2018 is to get these painters and other contractors to use it for all their communications and task management. It will save them time and help keep them more organized.
I loved seeing a few of my clients and attending the conference. But going to Basecamp and getting an inside look into the way they operate just made me more of a Basecamp evangelist. If your organization is stuck using texting, email or an even more complex system, check out Basecamp. It is simple and easy to use! You’ll be glad you did.