Teamstuff is free, no ads. So where’s the catch?

We’ve had a few people ask us this one, so I thought it might be worthwhile taking some time to pen a response, and put it out there publicly.

Two software nerds start a business…

All good stories should start at the start. And for teamstuff; that start was about 17 years ago. Two naive and impressionable young blokes ( Mark Johnson and Adam Kierce), best of friends, start a software business ( Shine Technologies ). Both developers by trade and by passion – we wanted to be free to make software the way we wanted to. So we created agile processes ( before that became the way to make software ), and we made software that worked. That was revolutionary enough at the time for our small company to survive and thrive. Which was lucky, because we understood nothing about running a business.

Roll forward 17 years, and our software business is now big(ish) ; 2 people have turned into 60 odd. Roll forward 17 years, and those naive young developers now have 7 kids between them ( most in sports teams ). Roll forward 17 years, and we think we’ve got a handle on this ‘business thing’ ; and we’re ready to make software just for ourselves.

So we did ; and teamstuff was born.

And teamstuff isn’t just a hobby or a bit of fun on the side ( although it’s delivering on both those fronts ). We think there’s a genuine business opportunity somewhere there – what we’ve learnt about business is that people are OK paying for something that delivers value for them. That’s why we haven’t put ads into teamstuff – it’s not of any value to our customers. Oh, and we personally hate ads in the sites and apps we use. And you don’t get ‘partner’ offers through us either – that just seems like a really good way to annoy our users. The bottom line is if there’s no balancing of value between customer and business ; it’s not right for us. Might be for plenty of others ; but not for us. We’re not quite sure of the exact nature of our ‘balanced value’ yet; but we do know that we need to get bucket loads of customers.

So that’s our big problem – how to get crazy numbers of customers. That’s a problem usually solved by marketing. Which is unfortunate, because it turns out that in 17 years of running a software business; we’ve learnt pretty much nothing about marketing ( technically, we’ve let our software market our business ). So in the absence of awesome marketing-ness, we’re again letting our software do the marketing for us. And making it easy to test out means making it free. Our theory is that our software is good – so the more people who test it – the more that will want to use it. And the more that people use it – the more people who will see it.

And we’re lucky ; our main software business is tracking nicely, and gives us the skills and experience and yes, the funding we need to make teamstuff work. UX, cloud, responsive design – mobile apps. This is what we do on a day-day basis; just most of the time we get paid to do it on behalf of someone else.

So teamstuff is free; there’s no ads today. We’re not mining your data ( for bitcoins? ha – little nerd joke there). My kids details are in there – this weekend it took me to 5 different games, reminded me of two different duties ( at least one of which I truly had forgotten). I couldn’t survive a weekend without it.

So teamstuff is free; no ads.  We’re trying to build a beautiful piece of software, that’s a pleasure for our families and for yours to use. One day we might have crazy numbers in it, and one day we might work out how to return our investment. And if we do – it will be because we can share the value between us and our customers.

Until then – we hope you enjoy using our software as much as we enjoy making it. And yes, teamstuff is free, no ads, and no catch.

Adam and Mark
Teamstuff co-founders

Families – We Got You Covered

We love kids, we love sport, we love families. But we must admit, even we didn’t quite appreciate just how many different types of families there are.  And I don’t mean ‘good’ families vs ‘bad’ ( lucky we’re all perfect right? ); I just mean the amazing variety of roles and responsibilities within families. Super mums, super dads, super step parents and grand parents and everything in between.

So a little while ago, we put on our super nerd thinking hat ( it’s a thing, go with me – kinda like Harry Potter’s Sorting Hat, but without the magic. Or the castle. Or the…crikey I’m off topic.  ), and decided that no matter how your family worked – we needed to support it. Some families it’s Mum in charge. Sometimes it’s Dad. Sometimes it’s a 50/50 equal split. And sometimes the kids are older, and they want their own space; and are responsible for their own schedule. You know – except for when they forget; and then that was your responsibility. So our super nerd hat told us ; “Teamstuff must support the way each family works, and not make life harder for them.”

And so we did. You always obey talking hats. OK, so in the real world, what on earth does that mean? It means we’re 100% fine with any, and all of the following scenarios;

  1. One parent doing all the heavy lifting. Might just share login details with the other parent, this is the basic model we’ve always had.
  2. Two ‘together’ parents, each with their own login, sharing the same kids. So now, both parents can have full access to the same child ( like in the real world ) – each with their own login, email preferences, access to calendars etc.
  3. Two ‘separated’ parents, each with their own login. They share access to their kids details, but NO access to each others. Some separations are harder than others, we preserve privacy in these ones.
  4. OK, how about a parent sharing access to their kids schedule with their spouse?And a grandparent too? Yep, we can do that; a child schedule can be shared with as many adults as you need to.
  5. What about sharing the schedule with your teenager? Maybe they want their own login, but you want to have access too to their game and training schedule.  Yep – nailed that too. Again , parent + kid get their own login, so they get their own account preferences.
  6. Family Schedule Page. A web based schedule you can share with close families and friends. This doesn’t give full access or a login – just the knowledge of who is playing where and when. Perfect for grandparents!
  7. How about transferring a kid from you to another parent? Yep. Got that handled too – just in case the ‘wrong’ parent gets invited to a team. No dramas.
  8. Team manager invites Mum, but it’s Dad whose account you’re using for teamstuff. No worries – when you receive the invitation, Mum can redirect the invite to Dad. All sorted.

So we think we’ve got all the family configurations covered. It’s totally flexible – and it should work the way your family works. Now before someone asks, a valid family option is not Blackberry. That’s just a technology choice, and it’s not one that many people are still making. Sorry Blackberry users.

OK, how do you do it?

It’s pretty simple – you just share a kid’s profile from teamstuff with your loved ones/grand parents/ via their email address. It is seriously too easy.

So let’s say that I Coach, have a wife and a child. I know, it seems unlikely with my current ramblings about talking hats, but again – in teamstuff land this might look like the following;

ts_coach+child

So if I want to share ‘Little Coach’ with my wife, then it’s as easy as;

Step 1.

ts_coach_startshare

On the web, login and find the profile of the child you want to share. Expand it, then click on the icons on the right ( trying to represent parents ). This is the shared access area – showing you who is sharing this schedule. Remember – it’s child by child – so the above example is showing who has access to my child “Little Coach” ; and it’s just me.

Step 2.

Click on the ‘share’ icon on the left – its circled in red. The one under that is ‘transfer. The transfer option, as it suggests allows you to move a child’s schedule from one adult to another. But in this case we both want the schedule, so it’s the top icon we press – the sharing.

Step 3.

Enter the email account of the person you want to share with. Can be a current teamstuff user or not; no problem. They will get an email to accept the child’s schedule; and we’ll take them through the sign up or login process.

And that’s it. Whether you’re sharing with another parent, grand parent or sharing the schedule to your child themselves – that’s how easy it is. If you know their email, then you can share.

And at the end of it – this is what it looks like.

Coach’s view;
ts_coach+child

Wife of Coach View;ts_coachwife+child

Note that both I and ‘wife of coach’ have exactly the same access rights to the child’s schedule. We can both accept or decline a game. Or change the child’s name, or team number. We both get emails, and game reminders. And duties.

So with this recent change, we’re pretty sure we have families covered. No matter how you get your family stuff arranged, we’re here for you.

Lastly – next time you’re talking to the extended family about who’s playing where…take a look at the Family Schedule Page in your account settings. This awesome and super handy feature allows you to publish a schedule directly to the web. Up to date all the time ; which child, where and when. Makes the life of supportive grandparents ( and don’t we thank our lucky stars for supportive family ) so much easier.

Lastly – once again – our aim is to remove the admin burden from overworked coaches and team managers. So it’s the parents themselves that set this up, not the coach, not the team manager. Invite people in using one and only one email address; and let your parents do the rest for themselves. I know. Sweet!

Enjoy.

Coach.

Just another lazy 4 features or so…

So after we finished celebrating our little award a couple of weeks ago, we got back to the software. What’s the next set of stuff we should deliver? So here’s the next set of useful features we thought you should know about…

Transferring a Player ( or sharing )

We’re really concerned about privacy, so we’ve maintained a fairly strict approach to how players join teams. And in the past there’s only been one way into a team – the player accepts the invitation  ; either inside the app or via an email. But in the real world, there’s plenty of times when coaches and managers need the ability to swap players between teams. The obvious example might be an ‘A’ team and a ‘B’ team. If you have an outstanding game in the B’s – you might be promoted. Eventually we realised that there are no real privacy issues here – since the teams are within the same club, or run by the same coach/manager.

So now we’ve added support for that real world transfer of players – between teams that share a club/manager/coach.

share_xferSo just to the left of the Players – there’s a new icon to request a transfer. Hit this and you get some options like the following;

xfer_options

In this one above, I’m transferring Adam from my team to the Mighty Mice A team ; and sending a notification directly to Adam’s phone. When I save this transfer, then the following happens;

1. Adam gets taken out of the Mighty Mice U8 team

2. And transferred into the Mighty Mice A team, and

3. Adam will get a push message on the phone that looks like the following;

xfer_push

Note: Sharing a Player is the same process – teamstuff just leaves the player in the original team. This is a great way to introduce an emergency or spare player from one team to another to make-up the numbers.

Profile Pictures are now Mobile

You can now tap on your profile picture in the iPhone smart app – and use your phone’s camera to take a profile picture of your kids. Easy, easy, easy!

change_profile_picture

Family Schedule Page ( hello grandparents! )

We’ve got a new option now – the publicly accessible Family Schedules page. It’s turned off by default, and when you turn it on we publish a simple list of your games for you and all your kids. You can scroll forward or back to see each week of games, and we include only the minimum set of information for your extended family – time, place and kid names. Because your grandparents might have favourites too!

fsp_settings

So; some things to note. If you look above, you’ll see the link to the URL is really hard to remember. This is very deliberate – we want you to share this with your extended family and friends, but beyond that, we want to protect your privacy. So that very ugly set of characters is in fact 32 characters of super randomly generated bytes. That make it pretty hard to find or to guess. Because it means that there are exactly 1 in 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 chances that someone will guess your Family Schedule Page.

I don’t even know how to pronounce that number ; I do know I’m happy with those odds. My family is on it ; reckon you’re safe to do the same. Remember it is optional – turn it on under your Account Settings.

family_schedule

Ding-a-ling Reminders Got Louder….

If you have some parents or players who need reminding each week to set their attendance – we just made that process a little louder. We now send emails and push notifications when coaches/managers hit the ‘remind’ button. This is a great one for coaches and managers – use responsibly. Or not! 😉

+ 2 more things

OK, we did this before the awards. Rostering players on/off is now beautifully handled within the application. This is for those cases when you might have too many players for a particular game; so some shouldn’t even play.

And we also added coach/manager override on attendances. Because sometimes parents/players don’t always do what they said they would!

Enjoy

Coach

Crikey! Teamstuff now the world’s most awarded sports platform!

mobies_m

As coaches and parents we’re frequently saying things like “It’s not all about winning”. And that’s true – but it’s still nice to sneak through for a victory every now and again right?

So that’s what happened to us last week – fantastic night in Sydney at the 2013 Australian Mobile Awards, with Teamstuff outpointing some massive companies here in Australia. For our internal team – great recognition for the hard work you have all put in over the last 18 months. Thanks all.

For our fans and supporters and users – coaches/managers/parents and players – you inspire us everyday with your stories, your commitment to your families and with your feedback, and we could never have got this far without you.

Thanks

Coach
p.s. Yes, in case you were wondering – there’s a lot of tongue in cheek in that title… . 😉

We had a little lightbulb moment the other day. Strangely – when I was unwell.  Let me explain.

I was feeling rubbish ( my wife called it early – man flu ), but I knew there’d be no training  that night. No dramas – I’ll cancel it using teamstuff. The product that I’ve helped put together, with team based messages for just this very occasion. So I pushed out a team message online – “No training tonight.” And felt marginally better – it’s kinda nice to have a real world problem solved with software you helped make.

But….a little voice in the back of my head kept nagging away….”Did everyone get that message? ” Because it turns out that some of the parents in our team aren’t quite as obsessed with their technology as I might be. They might go whole days without checking email ( gasp! )- let alone an application on their smart phone. And then I remembered that about 1/2 my parent group struggle to find push notifications on their phones. Because push notifications are not the same as text messages; and the difference is all human. We’ve been trained over many years to expect, find and respond to text messages. Push notifications are pretty new; and they’re optional – you can turn them off without understanding how it might be useful, and many people do.

So back to my nagging voice ; now it’s upping the volume, and changing the tone.

“Betcha someone’s missed the message. They’ll turn up to training – and get a nasty surprise. And as the coach who’s cancelling ; they’ll be blaming you.”

So I could blame teamstuff….and suddenly I’m really not feeling well. Problem with that nagging little voice – it was right.

So we got to thinking – how could we help, rather than hinder? We’re trying to steer clear of actual text messages – they cost us actual money. So that got us thinking – could we actually be better than text? And the answer is abso-bloody-lutely.

So we’ve added a key feature to the messages in teamstuff now ; a ‘Got it’ button. You push a message to your team – and your team now responds to that message ; strangely they hit ‘Got it’. And since we now know who has the message and who doesn’t – we can extend the usefulness – by showing the coach/manager who hasn’t received that message.

Example view of players who haven't read a message.

Example view of players who haven’t read a message.

Go one step further – one touch to communicate with that small set of parents or players. So suddenly – you cancel training – and now you know exactly what’s happened with the team message. And it’s really easy to cover the few that haven’t responded. And that little nagging voice in the back of the head – well now it’s moved on to the Grand Final of our local, indigenous, crazy football game. Whole town goes mad. Including me ; since my team is the favourite. Possibly just in my head.

OK, some extra features for the team when you send the team messages;

1. The push notification still goes out, so depending on their settings, they should get a beep/vibration/pop up on screen.

2. We always show messages in the alerts section now. Along with a big obvious Got it button.

Message now in alerts

Message now in alerts

3. We have a badge count now directly on the teamstuff icon – which shows the number of messages in teamstuff waiting to be ‘Got’.

Teamstuff icon showing messages waiting for you

Teamstuff icon showing messages waiting for you

And for players/parents without smart phones – we send emails. And the emails contain a ‘Got it’ button – so the loop is completed for the whole team.

Hope that all helps ; and Go the Mighty Hawks on Saturday!

Coach

A little message from your sponsors….

You might recall we’re dead against ads here in teamstuff land. In fact, we have a pretty simple policy ; we don’t use apps with ads; and we don’t expect you to. So hopefully that bit is clear ; ads are annoying. Evil and Bad.

But sponsors, your sponsors – from your club?  The local butcher/cafe/mechanic ? Well it turns out that they are a pretty important part of your local community ; and hence a pretty important support for nearly any community sports club. Like the ones we are all a member of.   They’re not evil, or bad or annoying. They help us maintain our kit, upgrade the oval – pay for the umpires. We like them – because you like them.

And so we’ve added support in teamstuffland for clubs. The idea is pretty simple – we’re adding new ways for clubs to promote your existing sponsors. New ways to promote sponsors might mean more dollars for your own club – and that means more stuff for you and your kids. And this makes us happy. And in case you’re wondering – we get nothing from it. Zip. Nada. $0. Your club uses it anyway they can – and again – this makes us happy.

At the moment you might see your club sponsors appearing on your club’s Game and Scores page ; in the very near future you might see them on your game reminders. And you might see them in team or club emails too. Either way – you’ll only see them in relation to games and teams that are part of your club, and it’s all controlled by your club – for the benefit ultimately – of you.

Enjoy!

Players, Teams – and now Clubs

It’s been a little while since my last update – no real reason, other than I’m just a little lazy. Cough.

But luckily my teamstuff team isn’t quite as lazy as me, so we’re powering through some changes in teamstuff land. In particular, over the last few month or so we’ve launched a powerful new companion service – teamstuff4clubs.com.

So perhaps now is a good time to mention why. We love listening to real coaches, managers, parents and players – hearing the things they love about teamstuff – even the things they don’t. And in our travels, we’ve talked to quite a few club people – the volunteers that run the sports clubs you are a member of. And to a woman ( no sexism here in teamstuffland! ); they’ve told us in summary ; “Teamstuff is great for my teams, but what does it do for my club? “. And that was a fair question, since it does pretty much zip for  a club. After all teamstuff is directly aimed at the stuff needed for a team.

(insert thinking muzak here)

thinking….

thinking…

And eventually we realised we could do something for the clubs. The information and features we have inside teamstuff is really all about communication ; so could we also re-use those communications to help an entire club. And of course, the answer was yes. We’re really keen not to re-invent the wheel ( eg no real desire to re-invent a photo sharing site as an example ), but if we can use the tools and information we have to help a whole club run – then that’s a great idea.

So here’s how we help clubs out;

1. Magic email addresses for the entire club ; we now have a single email address that you send to – and magic happens. Your email goes out to the entire club, using their up to date email addresses – and copies to their additional email addresses too. No more maintenance nightmares keeping distribution lists!

2. Whole of club games fixture and scores. One page on the web, with the ‘public’ details of games to play, where they are and results. This is a great way to keep track of your mate’s teams – are they playing before your game and whereabouts. You never know – you might just stay a little longer to support them.

3. Advertising. This is an interesting one. Here at teamstuff land – we don’t like ads and we have no plans to add ads into teamstuff to pay for the service. But the clubs we’ve spoken too all talk about the pains of fundraising to help them out, not teamstuff, but the club themselves. So we worked through our internal objections. If advertising was controlled by your club, and was seen only by your club members – well we don’t think anyone has an issue with that. No-one minds supporting your local club – and we all know this is one of the ways we should do it. So we’re building in advertising support right now into teamstuff4clubs. Remember, this will be 100% under the control of your club – from which sponsors and where you see the ads – right through to the revenue – we get nothing. Nothing but the warm feeling knowing we’ve helped clubs out – and they in turn help our kids out.

And coming up – we’ll add in instant communications. Maybe even live scores. And then the stuff that real clubs, with real people – tell us they actually need!

In the meantime, there’s some other stuff that’s been going on too;

1. Redesigned the email reminders to be easier to read

2. Watched Andy Murray towel up the competition at Wimbledon.

3. Added the ‘accept by clicking’ in the emails directly.

4. Watched the Australian cricket team get smashed by the English. For American’s reading this ; it’s the equivalent of losing a baseball game to the Russians. A hockey game to the cheeky Canadians.

5. Watched my mighty local footy team dominate nearly everyone. But I ask – is ‘nearly everyone’ good enough? Hmmmm….I don’t think so.

Anyway – there’s enough for today!

Coach

 

 

 

 

 

Because practice makes perfect….

…so now you can schedule training right from within Teamstuff!

Now most people’s training will be same place/same time each week; no dramas at all. We’ve got that covered. But plenty of other teams tell us their training is a little less regular – so just like games, you can add individual or one/offs. Easy peasy; and each training session has who’s coming and who’s not; as well as support for duties – just who really is bringing the oranges!.training

So for managers and coaches – you’ll see something like this little button on the right ; same place you’ll find add games.

training calendar

And for players and parents – you’ll see the new training schedules show up on your calendar. A lot like the following calendar – where you’ll see my training sessions set for a Tuesday.

Triangle = training right! So in the schedule shown here – I have 3 scheduled trainings, and games on Thursday 28 ( which I’m going to ), game on 7th which I’m not, and a bye on the 14th.

Enjoy your time on the practice court/field/rink wherever!

Oh – one last note ; we’re still working on the mobile versions to integrate the training schedules. Give us a couple of weeks! 😉

January brings….more team stuff

Phew – the holiday season is finally over. And yes, there are beaches and BBQs and far too much sun in this part of the world. So it was nice to get back into TeamstuffHQ to get cracking on some nice new features – as requested by you! And please don’t be shy – if you’ve got ideas, let us know – because we actually do listen, and we actually do make the features you demand!

Cracking Feature 1 – Create From Spreadsheet/List of Players

We’ve been wanting this feature since Day One; the ability to use a spreadsheet or a list of players to create the team. In fact, we’ve always wanted you to create even large teams in under 60 seconds. But just how do you go about making this easy for coaches and managers? And not just easy, oh no – we wanted easiest! So after months of meticulous procrastination  brainstorming we finally worked out it. Basically – if you have a list of emails addresses for your team – in a spreadsheet, in an email list, in a document – wherever; then you can cut and paste that directly to Teamstuff – we do some computery ( that’s a word, I’ll have you know ) magic and you have a team. Try it – we think you’ll LOVE it.

Cracking Feature 2 – Player Profile Photos

Nice and simple feature – players can upload a photo of themselves, and team mates will see that photo next to the name. This is an excellent feature for big teams ( see Cracking Feature 1 ) – I’ve been to more than one game where I have no idea who number 17 is. And I may have been the coach….(cough). Player photos make that a little easier!

Cracking Feature 3 –  Player Positions

Players can now add their positions to their profiles for each team – so they might be a guard in basketball, and a wing in football, and a goalie in their hockey team. No problems – we’ve now got that covered!

Cracking Feature 4 – Team Logo

If you have a team logo – upload and you’ll see that against your team listings. Makes it much easier when you’ve got plenty of teams in play.

Hope you enjoy the new features!

 

Emails, more emails (and Blackberry users….)

Do you love emails? Are you a little like me – with 16,980 emails sitting in your inbox. Oh, sorry got that wrong. That’s 16,980 unread emails in my inbox. ( seriously ) Anyhoo, moving on – email’s great, and we’re adding some additional features for email.

Email Feature 1 – Multiple Email Addresses for you.

Teamstuff calls this the ‘Sue B’ feature; and you’ll never guess why. Yep – it’s because someone called Sue asked for it! Coach gets pretty crazy on Fridays!  So we’ve added the ability for you to create additional email addresses under your account settings. Teamstuff will send emails to your main login email address – and now also to each of the additional emails you nominate. And since this is done at the ‘you’ level – do it once and emails from any and all your teams/kids and their teams will get sent to all the emails you’ve given us. Nice.

additional_emails

Email Feature 2 – Game Reminders

Teamstuff’s got plenty of ways to let you know when/where your game is. You can do it on the web, on your smart phone – and now – via email. Again – it’s a setting on your personal account – tell teamstuff you want email reminders, and tell us when you want them. 2 days before the game? No problem. 30 minutes before the game? No worries. Tick . Done. And what do you get ? As you’d expect- a beautifully presented email with all the game details; where, when, who’s playing; and who’s on – duties.

Settings for Reminders

It’s nice too; but nowhere near as cool as the next feature….

Email Feature 3 – OMGosh – Reply Yes or No to Game Reminders

You can now tell teamstuff whether you’re attending a game directly from your email. So this is a cool feature for the Blackberry users out there. You know, because you don’t have a smart phone. With apps. So when you get an email game reminder, just hit reply; tell us yes ( for coming ) and no ( for not coming ). We did a little bit of tech magic in teamstuff land, and we can use your email replies to set your attendances. In a snap. So with a couple of clicks on your account settings; suddenly you’ve setup a super simple, and super easy way of knowing where you’re supposed to be; and telling your coach whether you’ll be there. All without remembering your password, or changing your phone. Sweet! Oh – and this one’s for Jacqui. See – we do listen to our users! 🙂

Enjoy the new release!