Ask Me Anything with Sandip: A Slack Conversation.

Our second Ask Me Anything event (#ama) featured Sandip, Cofounder of Cage, a project management and media collaboration platform for design and production teams.

Sandip’s AMA was off to a great start with 58 of our Slack members asking questions, reacting to the conversation, and learning more about the great things going on in the creative community.

The #ama format is adapted from a popular format on Reddit. This format allows community members to ask questions of featured innovators and influencers.

If you missed Tuesday’s #ama, no worries because we have it all right here. Dig in and don’t forget to join our Slack to make sure you don’t miss the next event live.

Intro

  Sandip:

Top of the morning to everyone (I see a lot of familiar names)! Big thanks to @carabell_okc and @stephenjbell for first, organizing DSN+DEV+OKC and secondly, for asking me to be part of this #ama, I’m flattered and appreciate it. I’m Sandip, Cofounder of Cage, a project management and media collaboration platform for design and production teams. We believe the happiest teams don’t always do the most work, but do their best work and we’re on a mission to help creative teams make the most of their time. Happy teams have complete clarity on what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and who’s doing what and we’re building tools to help with all of this without all the shoulder-taps, emails, meetings, and status updates. Everyone from small teams, freelancers, and big brands like Best Buy or Sapient use our product daily…it’s pretty neat what our small and mighty team has built over the past few years – which by the way, big shoutout to Erin, Justin, and Jason for all their amazing work! I personally wear multiple hats, everything from product design and customer support to marketing and sales.

On more of a personal note, I’m the product of immigrant parents that found their way to El Reno, Oklahoma from London and was the first in my family to be born in the United States (fun fact: they still own that motel they first purchased over 35 years ago, which is amazing when you think about standing the test of time in business). I graduated from OSU and after trying for months, finally got a job at BBDO on the third trip to Chicago only to turn it down a week later to join my brother who had just started a new company. I was the COO of that company (Digital-Tutors, an e-learning company for the folks that work in the movies and games industries) until late 2009 and helped grow that company in lots of ways (people, revenue, product, partnerships, and more). I’ve helped startups, agencies, a university and a venture accelerator in different advisory roles and have been a long-time cheerleader for all things Oklahoma and OKC. A few years ago I helped bring my buddy Aaron Draplin to OKC for an event and I’m hoping to help do more events like that again in the near future.

I’m a big fan of my family, they’re amazing! My wife (an attorney and business owner), our 2 year-old daughter and I live on a farm and ranch outside of OKC. We lived downtown years ago and often joke that it got so much cooler just as we left (you’re welcome OKC). This means we’re always looking for fun food/drink recs and also fun things to do with a little tot, so if you have some, feel free to share!

The only plug I’ll make, if you’d like to try Cage, we’d love to get your feedback on what we’ve built. We just launched our new Slack app too! You can try Cage for free at: cageapp.com. I also do demos all the time, so if you’d rather chat in-person (coffee on us) or watch an online demo from your couch (sorry, coffee’s on you), you can grab one here: calendly.com/cageapp. And lastly, if any of you ever need anything or if I can be of any help to you (and you’d rather just email me), feel free to drop me a line at: sandip@cageapp.com.

 

Q & A

Cara Bell:

Has having immigrant parents affected the way you work?

  Sandip:

Great question Cara! Yes, it has. I grew up in what you might call the “stereotypical asian home”, where you worked hard and kept your head down. A 90 on test wasn’t always appreciated at by the parents. 😉 We lived in the motel, so there was never a separation of work and play…something I’ve had to work had at undoing over the years. I saw what work ethic was from an early age modeled by my parents (who would learn anything they could if it meant they could save a buck by doing it themselves).

 

 

  Keith Kerr:

I love that there is a for real tech product based out of the OKC Metro area. How have you seen the tech industry in Oklahoma change since you began working on Cage? Any other notable tech products or companies based out of Oklahoma that you’d like to point out as also doing good work?

  Sandip:

Thanks Keith, great question! I suppose that depends on your definition of doing good work, but there’s plenty of talented folks that are working on great things. A few that come to mind that do “products” (just from personal connections) are: Cory Miller at iThemes, Danny at Tailwind, Chase and crew at DateBox. I’m sure I’m forgetting plenty too (I mean in many ways, you have to look at a giant like Paycom too, likely one of the biggest product companies in the state).

 

 

  Jon Fisher:

How has Facebook’s back and forth on their JS framework licensing affected decisions made for Cage if at all?

  Sandip:

Well hi there Jon! Are you talking about React? We actually don’t use many frameworks at all, just plain ol’ vanilla javascript. But we’re evaluating both React and Vue for a few front-end things. That answer your question?

  Jon Fisher:

Yep. Thanks.

 

 

  Amy Lamb:

Do you have any tips on selling the Cage app to your employer? I work in UCO’s small marketing department but haven’t got them to take the plunge yet on project management software. It’s frustrating as I’ve always had that at prior jobs and am tired of digging through random untitled email assignments every day.

  Sandip:

Hi Amy, great question…perhaps my favorite kind 😉 I think the best way to sell Cage inside an organization is to first see if it’s even a fit for you. Once it is, I think it comes back to helping share that value with others that make the decision. People are resistant to change, but most managers won’t overlook the fact that if it means better work product, less back and forth, and shipping work faster (and ultimately starting the next project sooner), it’s worth trying. If you need a hand, let me know – you can drop me an email anytime (posted in my intro).

 

 

  Will Phillips:

How do you achieve the goals of of good design, quality experience, product, etc – serving bigger companies with a smaller team?

  Sandip:

Hi Will, thanks for the question! I think often times “big teams” and “small teams”, have the same sets of problems, just manifested in different ways. So we focus on the “problem space” as much as the “solution space” of the design by just trying to be useful and consistent with the product. It’s hard, but everyone does the work of a small army on our team. That goes from customer support and holding someone’s hand along the way, to shipping new features and the documentation for that. That help answer your question Will?

  Will Phillips:

Somewhat. Is a deep question. But that’s helpful. I have similar challenges in my startup team. Thank you!

  Sandip:

I think when you focus on the customer and make them the priority, things start to take shape and scale from there! If I can provide a better, longer answer, let me know! Happy to chat!

  Will Phillips:

Sure. How about this: In a crowded market, how did you narrow down who you’re customer was? And instead of just coming up with a bunch of features – how were you able to narrow into a real solution that would actually solve a real problem for them?

  Sandip:

We (and myself included) have always been intimately familiar with the problems design and production teams encounter. We built around the problem space (cause the solution can always change). Try not to build features and go after a market, but rather start with the market and the problem space and build around that. Hope that helps!

 

 

  Matt Winfield:

How did you go about quantifying the value that Cage provides to a team?

  Sandip:

Great question Matt! There’s a few ways you might approach this, but at the end of the day, it depends on the team. For most agencies, it’s easier cause they will by the hour. So when you look at the average time saved when someone uses Cage (let’s just say it’s around 25 minutes a day) and you multiple that by the number of days in their work week and the hourly rate they charge, you start to see real cost saving there.

 

 

  Emily Smart:

What do you feel sets Cage apart from other project management apps and systems out there? I feel like we’re constantly trying new ones without ever finding a perfect fit that combines everything we’re looking for (excited to dive in with the free trial though!)

  Sandip:

Hi Emily! Great question! I’ve always told people the best to-do list is the one you keep. So for some (like my wife), that might be a scratch pad of paper next to her desk. I think what sets Cage apart from others is the unique set of tools we’re building in one product. A hub for creative/design/production teams to start a project, do all the things in-between, and then complete the project after approvals. Tools like annotations on video/images/etc, revision history, approvals, and more make for something that helps teams do less work but their best work.

Cara Bell:

I love that “best to-do list is the one you keep”

  Emily Smart:

Very excited for revision history and approval tracking

  Sandip:

Thanks! Lots of improvements coming to these areas too!

 

 

  Aaron Dickey:

Okay, here’s a tough one… What’s your favorite color?

  Sandip:

Aaron, what’s up buddy! I’m a sucker for a killer yellow or orange, but I feel like my preferences towards colors also change during the seasons! What about you? I suppose my answer should be “Cage Blue”, #00BEEF

  Aaron Dickey:

I’m a sucker for black and white!

  Sandip:

How can you not be right?

  Will Phillips:

^^ I want pantones. lol (just kidding)

 

 

Cara Bell:

What inspired you to take on team disfunction?

  Sandip:

I think from the earliest of days working at my parents motel, they preached being “efficient” and “effective”. When I worked with my brother, it was similar values cause it was just part of our DNA. When I think of “collaboration”, I think of “being effective with others”. And when I think of “productivity”, I think of being efficient. I’ve seen these problems all my life and in different contexts, but it always comes back to people. Doing the most with what you have and where you are is what small business is all about…so I’m just a sucker for that!

 

 

  Zachary Foster:

Another softball for you: What’s the best and worse part about being a startup in Oklahoma?

  Sandip:

Foster…I miss you (fun fact, Zach and his team used to be our neighbors). Great question! The people, cost of living, midwest hospitality vibes, and relatively no traffic are all perks! But it’s riskier to start a tech company/startup in a place like OKC. The density and concentration of smart/talented people all working on like-minded thinks is much higher in other places, thus making it easier to find talent, raise capital, attract customers, etc.

  Zachary Foster:

Wait…us being neighbors…was that a pro or a con? 😉

  Sandip:

Definitely a con…you guys were the worst! 😉 Just kidding buddy, that sort of thing is the biggest perk!

 

 

  Zachary Foster:

Let’s talking Pricing. I know it’s something that a lot of products tinker with. You have Basecamp’s flat fee, Slack’s per User…lots of different options out there. What made you guys go with the structure you have now…and are you guys analyzing your results/progress with what you have now?

  Sandip:

Another great question! We sure are and we may adjust as time goes on. For us, it’s all about being fair and being predictable. Per-user fees don’t provide that cause you’re bill will constantly change as you grow or tighten up. Flat fees also don’t work well for our situation cause we’re a media review platform too. So while storage is virtually a commodity and pennies on the dollar, the encoding/transfer/and bandwith is something we have to strongly consider. So we go with a combo approach for now!

  Zachary Foster:

I find it funny that a lot of places don’t understand the psychological impact that pricing can have on a user. You can walk them through a great marking site…made the case for your product and then a total buzzkill.

As a small biz owner it’s hard to keep shelling out $ every month for these products. There are great services out there that we no longer use because they just got too pricy for us.

I dig the combo approach for sure!

  Sandip:

I 100% sympathize with how you feel and that anxiety. It’s bit why we just wanted to be more predictable with our approach. I also think there’s always room for improvement too. If a prospective customer doesn’t see the value something might cost, it’s our job to help change that narrative and ensure we do what we can to help show that value.

 

 

  Tanner Tate:

At 1 million cups last week, you talked about bringing more and more integrations to Cage because you believe a PM tool should work with the things we use day-to-day instead of demanding users to pull up a browser or app… So what integrations is cage currently working on that we can look forward to?

  Sandip:

Great question Tanner and you’re right, if the goal is to help you save more time, we need to be thoughtful in the tools we build to help you make the most of it while also keeping things simple and useful! You’ll see Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box integrations. We just announced our new Slack app, which brings Cage into your entire org’s Slack channels, and you’ll see some really neat integrations with Adobe and Sketch too!

  Sandip:

As customers yourselves…do you fine folks have integrations you wish to see?

  Tanner Tate:

We use harvest for time tracking, so a time tracking integration that allows us to spark a project in one environment and see it in the other would be awesome.

  Sandip:

Noted! Thank you sir!

  Tanner Tate:

Also love Cage’s estimated time on tasks. Seeing that somehow factoring into setting project budgets, or being automagically set according to budgets would be awesome.

  Sandip:

Big thanks Tanner! Appreciate that!

 

 

Cara Bell:

What all is involved with your accelerators?

  Sandip:

Hi Cara! We don’t have accelerators, but rather I was an advisor for one and helped as a mentor for other startups and founders going through the program. Everything from product and design, to marketing strategies! That answer your question?

Cara Bell:

yep

 

 

  Sandip:

I’ve got a few more minutes before this #ama ends. If any of you have any questions you didn’t get to ask or missed this, you’re welcome to always drop me an email any time! A big shoutout to my team, to @carabell_okc and crew at DSN+DEV+OKC and to all of you for asking questions. Love that this community is growing and excited to see more positive things like this take shape!

 

 

Next time:

Every Tuesday morning at 10:00 am. If you want to listen in or ask your own questions, get your slack invite here: dsndevokc.com/join-0ur-slack

In the meantime, check out last week’s AMA with Matt Stansberry here: https://www.dsndevokc.com/2017/09/19/ask-anything-matt-stansberry-slack-conversation/

Who would you like featured for our next AMA?

by
Jenn is a social media and content marketer with a deep love of pumpkin-flavored everything and weekend naps. Currently an online web design student at Francis Tuttle, Jenn plans to make her mark on the digital world with mad coding and marketing skills. With over 13 years’ experience in digital marketing, she’s been in the game since the chat room days. When Jenn is not writing content for Steed Interactive or Red River Roofing, you can find her checking out the newest local eatery or sipping on tea at Urban Teahouse.

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