I want to quickly share with you what made our team decide to start looking for alternatives to Basecamp. We were a five-person web design and Internet marketing agency. It doesn’t really matter so much what type of business we were. It could be any business that has clients and vendors to manage.
When we first signed up for Basecamp we merely wanted a tool that would help us centralize our communication. As a smaller company, we didn’t think much about scaling and client management. When we set up Basecamp, we jury rigged it, in order to try and get it to act as more of a CRM. We still wanted Basecamp’s project management functionality but we wanted all of the work we were doing to be centralized on a client instead of a finite project. So we named each of our Basecamp projects after the name of the client. Then we left those projects open permanently and sort of created our own CRM inside of Basecamp. When we began to grow and started accumulating a few more clients, it became cumbersome to try and force Basecamp into doing something that it was not built to do.
Our Journey Away From Basecamp
That is where our journey out of Basecamp began. An application that was centered more around our team and the things that we needed to do for the clients was what we were searching for. We needed CRM functionality and project management functionality at the same time. The ability to keep and track time against our clients for billing and productivity reporting was also important to us. Paying for another 3 applications in addition to Basecamp wasn’t really in the budget nor desirable from a logistical standpoint.
Our team wanted those items to be centralized and stored in a location where the client would ultimately have access to it if we desired. Sort of like a client management portal or a dashboard. We love to provide our clients with transparency so that they can see the things that we are working on for them, and then give them the ability to collaborate with us. A chat system for us to use internally as well as with our clients was also desirable. But again, we didn’t want to have to sign up for another application like Slack and pay their fees as well.
Another thing we wanted to be able to do was somehow visualize from a high-level our sales funnel and our business processes. Our business has many processes and associated stages within those processes. Building a website or onboarding a client into Internet marketing services for example. To be able to see those tasks for each particular client and move them along a funnel or process board helps us to see where we have bottlenecks. Visualizing this could help us better manage the workflow at certain stages of our process.
So what did we do?
We searched and searched and searched. We found various applications that we thought could do the things we wanted them to do. But ultimately we determined that we wanted one application that could do what Basecamp, Slack, Pipedrive, Asana, and Harvest did. Again… we wanted it to be in one application instead of 5 or more.
We Built A “Greatest Hits”
We never found our dream application, until we built it. Necessity was the mother of our invention. Yalla was the result of two years of iterations, a couple hundred thousand dollars, and a lot of time and energy. What we found was that there were plenty of alternatives to Basecamp. But it wasn’t just an alternative to Basecamp that we were looking for. It was an alternative to the requirement for us to purchase and pay for a bunch of software as a service apps when we felt like their core functions should be able to be contained within one app.
When we built Yalla… it was just to scratch our own itch. We found that lots of other people had the same itch. And that is what’s great about innovation. It comes many times as a byproduct of searching and not finding.