Tools Posts

We like to write about tools that make life better for startups. We’ve written about Pivotal Tracker, the iPod of project management software. And we recently covered [Startup Digest], which curates the best startup events in 27 cities.

Today I want to talk about Solvate. Solvate says they “recruit and contract talent to work on demand.” But I like to say they’re “simple outsourcing for startups.” I’ve been using Solvate to produce interviews like How to optimize web apps with KISSmetrics.

SlideShare: How to optimize your web apps with KISSmetrics

My Solvate experience

I told Solvate what I needed: “Turn my MP3 interviews into blog posts that look like this.” It took them about a day to find someone: “Trent‘s going to get in touch with you.” I talked to Trent on the phone and described how I’ve produced our interviews in the past. He took a lot of notes and sent me a spot-on email that described what he was going to do.

Then I sent Trent a raw MP3 interview and he produced everything you see in the full blog post: a Slideshare with Slidecast, a podcast with chapters that look great in iTunes, an outline, a transcript, and a polished draft of the blog post. Along the way, he sent me 2 or 3 emails asking for feedback: “What do you think of this outline? Can you take a look at this podcast before I make a Slidecast?”

Trent probably saves me 5-10 hours per interview. I think my favorite part is that I rarely have to repeat instructions twice — with Trent or Paul. They both really want to do a good job. And Solvate takes care of the hassle of negotiating contracts with the talent — all I did was sign a click-through contract with Solvate.

Free hour of Solvate!

I’ve arranged for Solvate to foot the bill for the first hour of any project you start with them in March. Try it out and let me know what you think.

“We are using Pivotal Tracker to manage all of our new web apps under development, this thing rocks.”

Ezra Zygmuntowicz, Founder, Engine Yard

“It’s a relief to open Tracker at the start of the day and focus on the next most important task.”

Aaron Peckham, Founder, Urban Dictionary

No matter what you’re using for project management, take a close look at Pivotal Tracker. I’ve tried Bugzilla, Trac, Basecamp, FogBugz, Microsoft Project, and Lighthouse—and Tracker is the best for my needs. I’ve shown Tracker to many startups and many have made the switch.

10 reasons I like Tracker.

  1. It’s free.
  2. It’s hosted.
  3. It’s a joy to use. It’s the iPod of project management software. It’s all drag-and-drop and clickity-clack and it just works.
  4. It’s multi-user. Your co-founder in North Korea can make changes in Tracker and you will see them instantly. No page reloads.
  5. It’s for lean startups. The building block in Tracker is a story: an increment of customer value that you deliver with minimal waste.
  6. It’s about completing your next most important task—not maintaining mile-long to-do lists, Gantt charts, and lists of bugs.
  7. It’s transparent. Everybody on the team knows what everybody else is working on, their priorities, and their accomplishments.
  8. It’s in sync with reality. It doesn’t take time to keep your requirements and schedule in sync with reality, even if your business priorities change daily.
  9. It doesn’t do much. No, it doesn’t do dependencies and critical paths. It just keeps you focused on delivering value to customers.
  10. It’s powerful as hell. Tracker hides a lot of technology under a simple interface. It’s a serious Javascript-intensive web application that’s in the same league as Gmail and Google Maps.
  11. Bonus reason: Everything is on one page—there’s no need to navigate around (unlike other project management tools). More Gmail, less Hotmail.

If it isn’t clear by now, Tracker isn’t a bug manager posing as project management software.

If you’re already lean, Tracker is a no-brainer. If you’re not lean, Tracker is a good way to start getting lean.

What do other folks say about Tracker?

Read the testimonials from people who are using Tracker. I particularly like this one from Aaron Peckham, the founder of Urban Dictionary:

“I leave Tracker open all day. I use it for documenting, estimating and prioritizing things that need to be done. It’s a relief to open Tracker at the start of the day and focus on the next most important task. It keeps me from getting distracted and having too many things going at the same time. It also serves as documentation of what I’ve completed in the past—to show that I’m making good use of my time.”

Want more opinions? See what people are saying about Pivotal Tracker on Twitter.

What do you think about Tracker?

If you give Tracker a try, please let us know what you think!