When startups are young and fluid, everything happens in real-time. Employees sit next to each other and solve problems as they occur. Managers hold impromptu meetings and a sense of rapid, agile change permeates the company culture. Problems are solved by pulling all-nighters and consuming large quantities of Red Bull.
But as a company grows, things get increasingly clunky and complex. Reports must be filed, formal meetings must occur, and progress slows dramatically. The lines of communication get tangled and miscommunications are common. It can be difficult for managers to track who is working on what, especially as teams become increasingly distributed.
The Problem Of Growth
That's the situation Ade Alonoh found at his company, Formstack. As his team grew, communication became more cumbersome, resulting in more and more meetings being held. And as everyone knows, meetings are a horrendously inefficient solution.
It was this problem that gave birth to Jell, a reporting application designed to make team communication and management incredibly simple. Formstack held an internal hackathon in 2012 and as a result, Jell was born. Since then, they've worked to improve the software to the point where they are now ready to productize it.
Watch Ade's recent pitch to entrepreneurs:
Jell is a central platform through which team members can share daily plans, accomplishments, challenges, and long-term goals. Every weekday, team members answer three key questions:
● What did you accomplish yesterday?
● What are you planning to do today?
● What challenges stand in your way?
This update system allows managers to monitor what team members are working on and the progress of key goals and timelines as well as minimize meetings and micromanagement. It also empowers managers to keep employees aligned with overall company goals. Finally, it cuts down on the confusion that can occur when all employees are simply updating progress in real-time through email or a chat app.
As Alonoh says in his pitch, "Slack is really great for real-time communication. Jell really focuses on that structured communication and organizing goals, plans, and progress. About 80% of our active users integrate with Slack."
The Road Ahead
Jell has already received adoption by a number of significant companies, including Shopify, Twitter, and Comcast. Alonoh hopes that within five years, Jell will be an integral part of team communication, much the same way Slack is now.
Of course, this won't be easy. The team communication market is on fire now, with companies like Slack being valued at over $3 billion dollars and other companies like Atlassian, Basecamp, and Asana furiously fighting for a piece of that pie. And as teams become increasingly distributed, this competition is only going to get hotter.
What currently sets Jell apart is its simplicity. Rather than offering 100 different collaboration features, it focuses on organizing the types of conversations that are already happening. If they can keep their competitors at bay, they are positioned for success.
Everyone knows that meetings are a problem, but few companies have been able to do away with them. Perhaps Jell can kill meetings once and for all.