The Story of DoubleDutch Pride: Moving Beyond the Check-In

June 21, 2011

By Lawrence Coburn, CEO at DoubleDutch

The date was March 14, 2011. SXSW Interactive had been going strong for a few days, and Pankaj Prasad and I were holed up in the lobby of the W Hotel.

We had seven consecutive meetings scheduled with everyone from VCs, to existing clients, to press. It was a big, important day.

At the time, DoubleDutch’s primary product was a brand and enterprise focused geosocial app that enabled members / fans of a specific community (company, school, brand, etc) to share their location with each other.

Of course we were using an internal DoubleDutch version of our software for our small team, so we dutifully logged our location for the benefit of the rest of the company back in San Francisco.

Back at DoubleDutch HQ, the team got a push notification that we were at the W Hotel with a shout explaining that we had “a bunch of meetings scheduled.”

That’s it.

Our team didn’t know who we were meeting with or why. They didn’t know if we were fundraising, or doing PR, or doing sales. They didn’t know that we were busting our asses to move the company forward. They only received one piece of structured data – our location – on a day that big groundbreaking things were happening.

This simply wasn’t useful enough for sharing work. Put another way, we were leaving way too much meta data on the table. Data that would have been useful in evaluating our ROI from our SXSW investment, data that would have inspired the team back at HQ, and data that would have logged a useful record of meetings with a number of new business leads.

When we were arrived back to San Francisco, we were ready to apply what we learned. We were determined to build the first mobile, social, structured way for people to share what they were working on. These apps would be inspired by the check-in, but would move us decisively into the uncharted waters beyond lat long.

Today we are pleased to announce the launch of DoubleDutch Enterprise Apps, a suite of mobile, social enterprise apps designed to help work groups be more transparent, productive, and data driven.

To learn more about DoubleDutch and meet the team behind the products, take a look at our website. Check out the video on Pride below and read more of the story behind it after the break.

And while it was an “aha moment” of sorts in Austin, there is a bit more to the story.

The DoubleDutch team had been kicking around the idea of helping people socialize achievements and projects via a tap of the smartphone for some time before we even got to Austin.

As early as November, 2009, I posted some of my thoughts around how I saw a check-in like gesture as potentially having implications for a wide variety of mobile, online behaviors.

Intrigued by what we were calling the “non geo check-in,” the team started to look for examples in the wild of companies experimenting with applying this tapping gesture to objects other than those with lat long.

Later in 2010, we stumbled across some Jyri Engstrom’s seminal 2005 work on the concept of Social Objects, as well as some of GapingVoid’s excellent analysis on the same subject. Social Objects are the things that bring people together both online and offline and can be everything from a photograph (Flickr or Instagram), a place (Yelp or Foursquare), or a band (Rdio, Last.fm).

In December, I wrote a post for The Next Web wondering if 2011 would be the year that the check-in went mainstream for all sorts of services, not just location based ones.

In parallel, we were starting to dive deeply into the evolution of management philosophy. We became obsessed with transparency as a driver of productivity, and how the celebration of “little victories” at work can create a virtuous circle and lead to a more productive culture.

In January, unprompted, DoubleDutch’s UX lead presented something to me that he called the “nested check-in” – an ability to append multiple bits of meta data to a single check-in, and to showcase work being done around a given company. In his mock-up, the three objects were Customer, Project, and Place, with the thought that these were three objects that every company in the world had.

At this point, the team was slowly building up conviction around the concept that would later become Pride. We knew that tapping not typing was an easier way to publish on the mobile phone. We knew that there existed plenty of social objects in the workplace that varied little from company to company; things like Projects, Customers, Leads, Vendors, and many more. We knew that analytics enabled by structured check-ins were more useful than trying to parse free form, Twitter-like text. And we knew that there was tremendous value in having full visibility into what was happening around you at work.

Clearly we just needed a nudge to build the damn thing.

And that nudge came a few months ago at SXSW. While we had an “aha moment,” it was a moment that was nearly two years in the making.

Here is a quick hat tip to those entrepreneurs and thought leaders who have inspired us along the way: @dens, @alexiskold, @jyri, @thegogame, @gapingvoid, @hashable, @instagram, @profhamel, @jhagel, @vineetnayar, @odesk, @vivopools, @bragiel

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