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Slack – Is This The Fastest Growing Enterprise App Ever?

Update: Apparently the Daily users are over 60,000 from the last report I can find in late April so this graph would be twice as tall



What is it?

Slack is apparently one of the fastest growing enterprise software apps in known history. This is most amazing growth curve I have ever seen with a very high % of paying customers. You are too late to invest, they have raised $43m and on their way to being a $billion company.

Turns out the founder Stewart Butterfield who founded and sold it to Yahoo for a rumoured $30-40m (seems like loose change now). Flickr was a pivot from an unsuccessful game which they were about to close down, Butterfield is obviously a gaming tragic.

Stewart Butterfield

Stewart Butterfield (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When he sold Flickr he started on another game called Glitch, also unsuccessful but which pivoted into Slack. Great long story from here and an excellent interview by Jason Calacanis with Stewart Butterfield

If you have ever used Hipchat or Yammer or hated wading through email to track subjects and projects and wanted more you will love Slack. One of the most frustrating issues when running a project or startup is getting everyone on the same subject without a massive untraceable unsearchable email storm. Slack solves this problem.

As a business guy who runs a few coding and hardware projects in my day job, I love how this allows code updates from Github to be pushed into the chat history by a tool called a Slackbot.

What is the fuss all about?

Slack is a new form of team collaboration software which goes so much further than traditional chat apps, wikis, intranets etc.

Slack Chat

Slack Chat


Slack is team communication for the 21st century

Imagine all your team communication in one place, instantly searchable, available wherever you go.That’s Slack.

Slack Channels

Slack Channels

Create open channels for the projects, groups and topics that the whole team shares.

Channels increase transparency by putting knowledge in everyone’s hands. Discoverability, complete history & search across all channels is built in.

Channels include messages, files & comments, inline images & video, rich link summaries and integration with the services you use every day, like Twitter, Dropbox & Google Drive.Slack searches whole conversations, not just individual messages, so you can find what you’re looking for no matter who said what or when they said it.

Slack is full of thoughtful touches to make your working life simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.

  • Autocomplete makes mentioning your teammates quick and painless.
  • Internal email becomes unnecessary as desktop & mobile messaging, file sharing and notifications fold into one place.
  • Integrations with Google Docs and Dropbox keep external files in sync and searchable


Slack Integrations


Two built-in native file types let you create files for whatever comes out of your keyboard.

  • Posts: for longer written pieces you want to format and share with your team.
  • Snippets: for capturing blocks of raw text, code, log files and other preformatted text.

Both posts & snippets have all the features of other file types: comments, stars, public & private sharing, etc.

Slack has fully native apps for iOS and Android to give you the full functionality of Slack wherever you go.

Slack Apps on different devices

Slack Apps on different devices

You get access to everything from the palm of your hand: file search and filtering, starred items, the team directory and, of course, all your messages.It may sound complex, but Slack’s read state synchronization is simple: when you read something on your phone, your laptop will know about it and automatically mark those messages as read.Whatever you do on one device — catch up on direct messages, post a comment, upload a file — is reflected everywhere. Everything is in sync. We’ll keep your place so you can always pick up right where you left off.

  • Customize your own list of highlight words to trigger notifications.
  • Browse Slack files to preview images and read documents from anywhere

Slack indexes the contents of every file, whether you upload them directly or through integrations. That means you can search inside Word docs, Google Docs, PDFs, Photoshop files, commit messages —anything you add to Slack.

Powerful search operators make slicing and dicing your communication in Slack simple and fast.

  • Focus your search to just a specific channel, messages from a specific person, or to just the files that you’ve added to Slack.
  • Filter results by recency, relevance or file type to find exactly what you need.

Flexible file browsing lets you find exactly the file you need.You can sort and filter by file type or by person: a few clicks gives you all of your files, Google Docs from the whole team, or just your own snippets.




Lean Startup Tools and Processes Im using

Eric Ries - The Lean Startup, London Edition

Eric Ries – The Lean Startup, London Edition (Photo credit: betsyweber)

Lean Startup Book Cover - Credit - Eric Ries

Lean Startup Book Cover – Credit – Eric Ries

Over the last few weeks I have launched a prototyping project, its high profile, technically difficult, experimental and needs to be done quickly.

Normally in a big corporate you would spend a year on this, an academic might study it for 2-3 years, I hope to condense it to a few months and produce a working prototype.

I have listened to Lean Startup a few times now over the last year (well most of it) and started looking for tools to facilitate building a lean startup (within a multinational split over 4-5 timezones).

Funnily enough when I launched my first business nearly 14 years ago I didn’t spend much time planning, I just made a best guestimate of what we should do, the 3-5 big goals that would change my world, listed the tasks needed to achieve each goal and executed hard, measured the results and adjusted as I went, I would review the priorities every day and set new weekly goals based on a quarterly plan (but no more than that).

Everything was an experiment unless proven otherwise (I got this experimental approach from Seth Godin’s book “Survival is not enough” long before Lean Startup was a movement) and I ran lots of experiments, more than 25 different ways to get the message out (and more than 150,000 mail drops to Sydney Businesses with about 20 messaging variations)

Here is the list of tools that I have come across and tried/used so far in my process.

Please add any you think we should have to the comments and I will put them into the list. has a multiuser Lean Canvas – Works well when you are working with an international team, simple but easy way to get the critical data to make a product and a decision down on one page. Canvas App Canvas App A Google Docs Validation Board template

Similar but more manual and works on Google Docs

123D Design – Free 3D drawing software, there is a desktop version (which crashed a lot for me) and a web version (which is not as capable as the desktop version). Despite these problems I still recommend it as it is very capable software and amazing given its free.

123D Design

123D Design Very good if you are aiming to build models for 3D printing but I found it lacking for more complex object contruction (or it could be my lack of skill) Also free

Tinkercad - Credit

Tinkercad – Credit

Autodesk Inventor – This is what you will probably use if you need more than 123D. Easy enough to use, but you really need 8Gb ram and Win 64, it too will crash on 4gb. Extremely capable. Not free but a demo is available.

Autodesk-Inventor - Credit Autodesk &

Autodesk-Inventor – Credit Autodesk &

Google Docs – Because enterprise collaboration tools will arrive in your company 2 years after you need them. Excellent explanation of the 25 lean tools for manufacturing for building a great landing page, ever wondered who builds those beautiful one page sites that explain everything you need to know about a product or service and nothing else? does. Check out Phil and Micks collection of tools, these guys are experts in the space. to create a shared workboard so that you can collaborate rather than email everything – Freemium Agile Project Management Software – Freemium This is a great App for desiging circuit schematics and then running them in a simulator – Freemium Available in your Chrome Browser for designing App mockups – Freemium

Fluid - Chrome Based Mockup App

Fluid – Chrome Based Mockup App

What did we miss? Add your preferred Lean Tool in the Comments.


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