Lessons from a 125 year old business.

When I was 3 years old, my parents had a grocery store selling almost anything. I spent my days observing customers and finally I came up with the idea to sell onions in front of the store, directly on the sidewalk to attract more customers. My mum told me that I need to address everyone to offer what I had to sell. Finally, I sat there waiting for my  first customer to do business. I took all my courage I had as toddler and did what I was told: I asked everyone passing my kiosk if they needed onions. Surprisingly an old lady wanted to buy a kilo of onions when I suddenly realized that I was not able to weigh them – I couldn’t even read numbers at this time.

At the end of that day my conversion rate was zero – I sold not a single onion but I learnt a very important lession: You’ll only have the chance to sell if you get in touch with your customers and if you can deliver exactly what they need.

My parents are still running their 1887-founded business. In the 125 years of its existence, some major pivots were made (they made pivots before it was cool) ranging from selling leather propulsions followed by a grocery store which transformed to a successful niche player: today Betten Leimer produces and sells feather beds.

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Basecamp as a project management tool for web projects

Launched in 2004, Basecamp is one of the oldest web-based project management and collaboration tools on the web.  With 150,000 companies using Basecamp, it’s definitely one of the most successful PM tools out there. 37signals, the company behind Basecamp relaunched Basecamp as “New Basecamp” back in March this year. The “old” Basecamp Classic is still available and it is still possible to sign up for a Basecamp Classic account. Since the classic version is not actively promoted any longer, this blog post refers only to the “New Basecamp“.

Instead of reviewing all features of Basecamp and comparing them to other tools, let’s focus on five real life requirements for a project management tool which is used for managing web development projects. These requirements are experiences we gathered in the last couple of years.

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Eat your own dogfood!

It’s common knowledge: in a startup, you are your first customer. You are the first one eating your cooking – and unless you have some secret product-guy super powers it will taste like dog food. Dogfooding is a great way to get an idea of how your customer will perceive your product. Using your own software on a day to day basis takes you a long way finding the most important product improvements.

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