The Web Setup: Chartio


These days, everyone talks about how it's cheaper & easier than ever to run a business thanks to the web. Many of our customers are at the forefront of this trend and we decided to interview them to learn about what they use and how they make it all work. In doing this, we were inspired by Daniel Bogan's awesome series of interviews with interesting people. We decided to maintain the format while broadening the context to teams.

For our first interview in the series, we sat down with Dave Fowler. He's the founder and CEO of Chartio, which provides a simple way to build beautiful charts.

 Dave's Spirit Animal: The Bison

Dave's Spirit Animal: The Bison

Hi Dave, tell us about your team; what kind of office setup do you have?

We're 10 people working out of a converted art gallery in SOMA San Francisco. It's a large space that we're growing into. We just have simple Ikea desks for now, but we've got our eyes set on the fancy stuff. Everyone uses a MacBook of some sort, and a 27" Apple monitor.

What web apps does your team use everyday?

Well, taking a look at our Meldium dashboard I currently have access to, Comcast, Disqus, Ginzametrics, Google Apps, Google Drive, Instacart, InternMatch,, LinkedIn, MailChimp, Mailgun,, Munin, Olark, PG&E, Quickbooks, RingCentral, Stripe, Trello, Vimeo, and Webex. We also use Salesforce, Zendesk, and Chartio (of course).

We use IRC for our inter-office communication and Google Calendar for setting up meetings. We organize our development priorities on a simple wiki page and Trello.

How does your team pick new apps to get work done?

When we find we have a need for something, we either choose a solution that one of us has used and liked in the past, or try a few out. We usually try out the ones we've heard the most about first. Design, pricing and integrations are all a key factor in making our final pick.

Once we choose we rarely move. It's usually too much of a pain to do so, and we've got more important things to focus on.

We try to buy what's already out there as much as possible. I've got a nice post on 10 reasons not to build your own dashboard, and I think much of the reasons hold true for many different services a company needs. It just rarely makes sense to build something yourself with all the man hours it takes to create and maintain.

How do you onboard new people and help them get productive on their first day?

We have a wiki page with all of the steps to get them setup on the first day. We used to have a long list of accounts or passwords we'd have to give them, which was mostly replaced with a line "Grant access to necessary services on Meldium."

Other tasks in the wiki include:

  • A list of documents that need signing
  • A few applications to install
  • A long dev environment setup for new developers
  • Signing up for Health insurance
  • Signing up for Payroll

The last step in our onboarding process is that they have to choose a spirit animal and order a stuffed version of it on Amazon. Everyone at Chartio has a spirit animal on their desk. Mine is a Bison.

What would be your dream setup?

Well, I wished before starting Chartio that there were a better way to create dashboards and query my data so I've set out to do that :).

Other than that I like the saying that it's a bad workman who blames his tools.