Our third interview in this series is with Kevin Chau of Divshot, makers of a sweet cloud-based website designer. They're a very early-stage startup where most of the team is remote! Read on to see how they manage this...
Hi Kevin, tell us about your team; what kind of office setup do you have?
We're a 6 person team here at Divshot, fully remote and spread across the US. A majority of us are on the West coast, though. 3 in LA, 1 in Iowa, and myself in Seattle. We don't have a main office either. Everyone has their own working environment out of their houses, apartments, lofts, etc... It seems to hover around some sort of Ikea setup though. Michael sits down in a loft, Jake and I standup at our makeshift standing desks. Scott is the coffee shop guy, he likes working with flat surfaces that involve scones and coffee. Collin and Robert are mostly sitters at their desks, with Collin preferring a desktop.
All of us work on Retina MacBooks, with the exception of Michael, who is on a Chromebook Pixel, and Collin who is anxiously waiting for his Mac Pro Spaceship-Trashcan-Super Computer. We do get together on occasion, for team meetings and board meetings. We always meet at Launchpad LA, which is pretty much the origin of Divshot.
What web apps can your team not live without?
We use a lot of tools and we try new apps regularly. Our philosophy is that if it saves us time and integrates well with what we currently use, we'll go for it. Most of the time price isn't a concern. If we're still using it a week later, it's proven its worth. Some of the main ones we use as a team are:
- Divshot (very meta)
- Google Apps
- Meldium (of course)
- Various Twitter apps like TweetDeck and TweetBot.
While everyone has their own developer productivity setup, on the infrastructure side, it's Heroku, AWS, and MongoHQ. We also try to make it easy for our customers to reach us, and on the support side it's Intercom and Helpscout.
Oh, we also love our chat bot, Hubot, whom we abuse much too often by demanding it send us gifs and memes.
How do you onboard new people and help them get productive on their first day?
I'm the newest person at Divshot, so I can say that there's no formal process. Michael said it best when I surveyed everyone, and he put it like this: "We hire people who can teach themselves how to build a parachute while falling out of a plane." There isn't anything set in stone, we hire people who we feel can learn on the fly and pick things up as they go. I suppose this is fairly common with early stage startups. With the exception that we prefer people who have previous experience working remotely, we're a pretty typical otherwise.
When it comes to accounts, Meldium helps tremendously, but we also have tools with individual users, so those take some time. But assuming the right person as at the newbie end, they know what to do with the accounts we give them.
What tools/tricks does your team use to work remotely?
We are fully remote. Scott puts it best as "asynchronous work." Everyone pulls their own weight, albeit at different times of day. There are days where some of us wake up and others are just getting to bed. The only way that this could work is if everyone in the company worked remotely. All of us have Karma hotspots which make it easy to stay connected wherever we are.
We have a weekly Google Hangout where we discuss the musings of the world and update everyone on what we've been up to. All other things happen on Flowdock. We may be lost without it.
What would be your dream setup?
Without going to extremes: Scott wants a nature-proof computer so he can work in the Alaskan Wilderness, Collin wants a team of comedians on a stage; we're all pretty happy with what we have.
Maybe they could go ahead and build that Hyperloop so we can shuttle to team meetings more frequently/quickly.