When you’re inspired, nothing is better than writing a blog post… you may even risk of inspiring other people!

Crowdsourcing, The Tribe, Product/Market fit, Friendship and Family.

Many of you might have heard about Seth Godin – to everyone else: he’s a well know marketing  guru. His super-minimalist writing style makes it a pleasure for everyone to browse through his articles. I dug through his blog a few times and usually ended up shaking my head or saying “hmmm…maybe” at best. Until I read this article and watch this video:

Of all of a sudden a giant bulb was flashing over my head. The article I mentioned concludes with the words:

“Three years from now, this advice will be so common as to be boring. Today, it’s almost certainly the opposite of what you’re doing.”

Isn’t that what you call “having a vision”? I guess it is.


A man with a vision is usually not the only imagining stuff. But unlike the average Joe he can focus, summarize his vision and put it down in words. When this happens those who read about the vision may think “yeah… I thought about that too…” – but telling about the vision is a different story.

We started building our Tribe way before we read the Seth Godin’s article. I’d say it all started the first time we were featured on GOTD (September 2009). I can’t remember the details but the next day a guy wrote me offering to translate the software to German (which is now our second market…). At the time I was watching the Simpsons’ episode featuring the X-Files characters:

Mulder on the Simpsons

Mulder on the Simpsons

As I got very positively surprised of receiving such a flattering offer, inspired by the cartoon scene I enthusiastically replied:

“If you do this for us we’ll send you a free license of our software along with our autographed naked pictures!”

Not a very professional reply…no.

But nonetheless this guy did like my answer and instantly became part of the family. Today the guy, nefycee, has his email address @tabbles.net, his Tabbles business card, he blogs on our blog and did for us way more than we would ever expect from any employee. Wait…did I forget to mention the word “friend”? Well, I forgot to but here I am now: we couldn’t help getting friends with nefycee, it just felt the most natural thing in the world 🙂

Now, I’m talking about nefycee but I may be rolling out a list of 10-15 names, on top of them I’d probably put mrdna who did flood us with ultra-creative suggestions/comments/feedback/positive energy (I’ve just found an old proposal for a Tabbles advertisement from him) or the “Brasilian Dragon” Leandro, who’s successfully helping us to solve impossible technical problems. And of course (as Seth Godin expects) they’ve all been spreading the word in any possible way.


I blogged about crowdsourcing a couple of times before. Crowdsourcing is “The act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to a large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call“.  This is our open call:

Crowdsourcing with Tabbles

Crowdsourcing with Tabbles

When you click on the “Click here to learn more” link you are brought to this page. We created the page 10 months ago and so far we got (out of my memory):

  • Tabbles translated in 11 languages (and we even politely said “no” to a couple of people who offered to translate in 2 more languages… silly us).
  • The User Manual translated in German and Spanish (!!!) – now guys, let me tell you that translating a user manual is BIG AND PAINFUL task… I know that out of first hand experience.
  • Tabbles mentioned in a number of blogs/website/magazines.
  • Help in development (!!!!!!!!!).

(PAUSE: The list is not over, before going further I need to introduce the Product/Market fit concept (articles by Ash Maurya and Marc Andreesen)

Product/Market fit: our equation

Casual users’ feeback + Regular users’ feedback + Tribe’s feedback => Iterations (keeping ears open) => Product/market fit


  • And most important: 1 million ideas, comments, suggestions, you name it about all kind of different people from everywhere in the world… the ideas came through our forum and this form (it appears each time one uninstalls, inspired by Jason Cohen’s post). Those lead us to radically rethinking some ideas (which couldn’t be accepted by the public) while focusing on the things that people loved and needed. Look at what happened between version 1.1 and 1.5:

Tabbles 1.1

Tabbles 1.1 - September 2009

Tabbles 1.5

Tabbles 1.5 - June 2010

From the Apple/IBM to the Balsamiq model: “be yourself, be remarkable, the rest is easy!”.

We all know about patents and industrial/commercial secrets. We read stories about Company X stealing ideas from Company Y. Most of us have experience with companies trying to keep many secrets from their customers, suppliers, employees, the general public, what have you. And whatever you do, the one thing that matters is to look professional…cause if you were a tie your BS would magically start making more sense. And of course it all makes sense… that’s the “normal” way of doing business, therefore it must be the right one, right?

Then one day I bumped into  this article from Peldi (balsamiq.com). My first reaction was:

“Wow, this guy is telling the whole world how much money he’s making and where the money is coming from!!! AND HE’S STILL MAKING MONEY!!!”

That was my own point of no return. Within the 10 minutes I realized that everything I knew was plain old-fashioned. It belonged to the paper-press era.

Then I read this article from Jason Cohen did kick me even further through the Einstein-Rosen hole I was riding and led me to see the light to a new dimension. I realized that ties also belonged to the time when TV mattered.

Then I noticed that Peldi did create a twitter list collecting all of his competitors. Of course my first reaction was “WTF! He’s telling his own customers where to find his competitors!!!!”. But since I was already on the shiny side of the stargate, I didn’t get too shocked.  I wrote Peldi asking why he did that and he explained that he was simply “collecting everything that had to do with his micro-cosmos”. If I weren’t thinking as traditional marketer, that made perfect sense.  Two words in giant capitals started floating over my head:

Informal, Unconventional

Then of course I created our twitter list of Tagging tools. Shortly  after this happened, we got a very nice surprise into our mailbox:

Hello Andrea, just recently discovered Tabbles and found your recent blog entry regarding the filesystemwatcher interesting.
I have been fighting with file watching for months with my product  called Taggtool. (http://www.taggtool.com)
I thought I’d drop you a line and let you know how I handle file change events. […]

Can you imagine Steve Jobs dropping a line to Steve Ballmer to suggest how to improve the user interface in the next version of Windows? Well, if you take a the billions of $ away, that’s more or less what happened. And it’s nothing less than “business relations miracle”.  Is Philip (the guy behind http://www.taggtool.com ) part of our Tribe? Well, maybe this is a bit stretched… but for sure he’s a polite and friendly neighbour, the one you always hope to find whenever you move – especially if you move to a new and unknown land as we did with Tabbles.

I’m actually writing this post cause a second event like this happened today, it was even more surprising. It started again from twitter: among our new followers there was a tagging app (Labeler Software) I didn’t know yet. Then I asked myself “What would Peldi do in this situation?” and answered myself “well, I guess he would politely drop him a line and maybe invite him to join the Tribe…” and so I sent the guy a PM on twitter:

“Privet! 🙂 Congrats for your labeler! Do you know Tabbles? We’re looking for coders to help us with it…interested? http://bit.ly/a7ceob

The link points the public google wave we’re using to discuss technical topics. To my utmost surprise, one hour later, I checked the wave and noticed that Bohdan (the guy behind the Labeler Software) did writ a line helping us to solve another impossible problem:

“Bohdan Trotsenko: Alternative datastreams may be an option if the file resides on NTFS. Requires P/I. Will help tracking moving but helpless with Word’s case, as a new file is created.”


How do you call that? How far can we go with the Tribe? Can competitors be part of the Tribe? Can we, our customers, our competitors, their customers and the rest of the World, all work together to build something very special?

Well, simply put, this experienced triggered something in me. Something that led me to share this rollercoaster with the whole world. And maybe someone can even get inspired from my tale.