Today we learnt that 37signals is changing its name to Basecamp. Most Digital folk will be familiar with Basecamp as a web-based project management system. We know it very well as our team has used this very product here for over 5 years now. We follow all the tools that 37signals launch as they are all Ruby on Rails-based products which is one of our languages of choice at Rawnet but it’s not only that, we find their approach to online software very inspiring. It’s really simple, they take a real life problem - it could be something that they’ve experienced themselves and they produce a simple and clear web-based tool to help fix that. Basecamp was born out of their very team struggling to manage its own projects and so they decided to build their own tool and what an awesome tool that turned out to be!
What’s interesting is that despite their other successes with the various products they’ve launched, they’re strategically calling themselves Basecamp as going forward this is the only product they’ll be focussing on. Jason Fried posted a blog today that’s very open and honest. He admits that they’ve become diluted by the many products released and that they do their best work when they’re all focussed on one thing.
Jason Fried’s business philosophy takes pride in a passionate team and values that principle over growing a business so big that it affects that underlying culture and passion which is at the heart of where it all begins for entrepreneurs. I massively respect this as although we sell a service as opposed to a product, there are many parallels that can be drawn between his business and ours. Quite simply, we all come to work because every individual here loves digital and we are all passionate and proud of the work that we produce.
We’ve been described as a ‘big small company’ before and when clients visit our office and chat to our staff, they love how down to earth the team is and how enthused they are to show off what they’ve been working on that day. Being a small company means that we all know each other very well and Jason’s quote about how important this is really stood out for me. He says... ‘We’ve always enjoyed being a small company. Today we’re bigger than we’ve ever been, but we’re still relatively small at 43 people. So while we could hire a bunch more people to do a bunch more things, that kind of rapid expansion is at odds with our culture. We want to maintain the kind of company where everyone knows everyone’s names. That’s one of the reasons why so many people at 37signals stay at 37signals’.
Their culture is all about keeping their passion alive to continue to do what they love everyday. This is something that I believe every digital agency would like to think they do but having been in the industry now for 8 years it’s something that most companies project, or aspire to but in reality find this is quite hard to actually achieve. In fact when candidates approach us for jobs, this is a common downfall that they’ve experienced in their previous workplaces. I find this so inspiring as these are the core values that I genuinely believe that we have here as a team. We all communicate daily and socialize weekly because we genuinely like each other and enjoy the day to day, not because we have to but because we all want to.
So I look forward to the next chapter for the newly named Basecamp and for our team here, we had an incredibly successful year in 2013 but we’ll always, as Jason does, look to hold onto that excitement and magic that inspired us into this ever growing industry in the first place.