At Intridea, we cherish growth and exploration. Sometimes that means growing into a leadership position here at Intridea, but sometimes growth means leaving to found your own startup or join one of our peers.
We’ve got a stellar network of Alumni, and today we kick off a series of interviews with some of the best. What are they up to now? What did they learn at Intridea? And how can we get better?
Dingding Ye spent three years working on some of our biggest projects including Socialspring, our enterprise real-time collaboration platform.
It came as no surprise when Dingding set out on his own to build Pragmatic.ly, a clean, well-built and easy to use project management tool for developers. In this exclusive interview, Dingding shares his tips for creating web-based products with a small team.
Marc: Tell me about Pragmatic.ly and what inspired you to build a project management tool.
Dingding: Pragmatic.ly is a fast and easy to use project management tool featuring real time collaboration. It’s a project management tool built for developers with love.
My inspiration for Pragmatic.ly came from working on projects like Socialspring. Though the coding itself was always enjoyable, I found it difficult to adapt to using the various existing project management tools. Many of them felt as though they were built for project managers and not necessarily developers. On small, agile teams, developers end up using project management tools extensively and I wanted to build the perfect solution for developers.
Building a project management tool was a small idea and I knew it would be a tough market to penetrate, as there are many many teams out there trying to build something similar. But focusing on creating a tool for small teams of developers where code shipping is the most important priority allowed me to narrow in on a more specific niche. Ultimately, I set out to create a tool that gets out of the developer’s way and allows him/her to be more productive and see faster progress.
Marc: Stepping out on your own can be daunting. How did you decide you were ready to make that leap?
Dingding: It was definitely a hard decision. I enjoyed my three years at Intridea. I had great team members and loved the cool engineering culture. But I was ready to take the challenge of creating my own product and move on to the next venture.
Marc: How do you manage the stress of launching a new startup/product – from maintenance and support, development, design, marketing, and more. Do you have a lot of sleepless nights or have you been able to achieve a good balance?
Dingding: It’s a totally different experience – much different than what I thought before the start. At Intridea I was only responsible for project management and architect because Intridea did the other things really well. But as a startup co-founder, I’m responsible for everything. It’s not an easy job. Like you mentioned I have a lot of stress. But when our users thank us for the tools we build it makes me very proud and energizes me to do more.
Also, I receive a lot of help from friends and family; they share their thoughts and expertise with me and it really helps alot. So I want to say thanks to my team members and friends, specifically to Pradeep Elankumaran who always gives me great advice and to Renae Bair who gives us a lot of help on blog writing. My family has been incredibly supportive of my venture as well, giving me the strength to follow through with my goals.
Marc: In what ways did the work you performed at Intridea help prepare you for this venture?
Dingding: Most importantly it taught me “How to work the right way”. Thanks to Dave Naffis and other teammates over the years, I learned so much about how to run a team. They gave me 100% flexibility on how to manage the development team and how to do the work. Intrideans are all so cool and it’s joyful to work at a place where you can learn from others every day. I’m proud that I have been an Intridean and that my other two co-founders are also former Intrideans. We have worked together for more than 2 years and know what we can achieve together.
Marc: Now that Pragmatic.ly is out of private beta and has been launched, what are your next steps?
Dingding: It’s a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and we’re working our hardest adding more value to Pragmatic.ly to make it awesome. Only if you have an awesome product will the users pay for it. Meanwhile, we’ll work on customer development as much as we can. I think our working methodology will be a benefit to many teams and we want to spread that to as many people as possible. We care for our users very much. We want Pragmatic.ly to be able to help teams build their products better. We’re ready for the challenge.
Marc: What is it like running a business (as a developer) as opposed to just doing development on a project for someone else? Do have any tips for developers who might be interested in starting their own businesses and launching their own products?
Dingding: You should always keep doing good work, no matter whether you’re running a business or just doing development for others. But running a business will bring you lots more stress and sometimes things just don’t work out as you expect. Don’t be upset, keep iterating, stay focused. Developers normally are not good marketers. But don’t be intimidated by that, just keep learning, keep practising. Developers are smart people and if you are driven by a goal you can learn all the necessary skills to carry out your vision. Believe that everyday is a new day and you can do better.
We’re excited for Dingding and the Pragmatic.ly team on their new venture. We encourage you to [check out their product](http://pragmatic.ly) and share your feedback with them! We’ll be back in November with an in-depth interview with another Intridea alum. In the meantime if you want to work with a group of insanely talented developers and designers, [we’re hiring – apply today](http://intridea.com/careers)!
“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”
~Harvey S. Firestone