To work on a startup project means to spend long hours in front of a computer.
TwoReads does not (yet) have an office: we all come from different cities, although we converge on Milan. This necessarily means that we work online, i.e. that we collaborate online: we need a number of tools in order to manage, together and online, all the different stages of the work.
Making decisions, for example, is the most complex aspect of such a collaboration and we try to do this away from the computer: at least once a week we meet to make point of the situation. “Face to face” communication is, in fact, unparalleled for this: by making point of the situation, we analyse what has happened (in our successes and failures), making short- and long-term plans and dealing with any problem that may arise.
For the rest, necessarily, we must revert back to the use of tools. This is our setup at the moment.
For day-to-day commucication we use Slack. At the start we used to communicate via e-mail, rather banally, but already after a few weeks the situation had become unmanageable. Our inboxes would be overflowing and it had become too chaotic. We kept finding ourselves searching desperately for the latest version of a text or of a decision.
Slack is a multi-user chat interface, in which one can set a series of channels and in which every discussion channel is dedicated to a specific subject. Furthermore, we can arrange private chats between various members (very useful for avoiding public chats getting overwhelmed with messages which do not regard everyone). Other fundamental features include the possibility to share documents via Slack, and a very efficient search engine. From day one, it became our meeting point and we would no longer know how to work without it.
Regarding the writing of shared documents, although Andrea and Lorenzo were opting for a wiki (that’s how you get when you do this job!), we chose to remain on Google Docs. This offers us good support for categorisation, collaborative comments and writing (with the added possibility of easily managing the layout and adding images). E-mail is awful when you’re trying to write a document together with four, six or eight different people. For years Google Docs has attracted a huge amount of users and we prefer it to Dropbox (which we anyway use as a shared archive). One of its setbacks however, is that it is not easy to link documents with each other (and in this, I must say, wikis are unmatched), yet for now this is still a secondary issue. For organising our work, we opted for Trello, a kernel for so many startup projects. Trello allows you to manage a number of users, to assign specific tasks to each one, to give deadlines, to write comments for every task and to insert and remove tasks and activities. Clearly we are still at the beginnings and have not yet exercised its full potential. A simple Google Calendar helps us maintain deadlines and mark events.
For the moment, we haven’t got a Gantt chart, but it would be useful to have one (and to abide by it!).
For software development, we are using Bitbucket,, which allows us to create a private repository git for free. We needed something with which we could work together but also privately: as soon as we have something releasable in open source we have not excluded Github.
For the blog we have chose, with very little originality but excellent results, WordPress.
At the moment, we are not experimenting with any other software and we think we have reached a good level of stability. And you? Can you suggest any other tools for us?