KickoffLabs Blog:

Bluefin Sketchpads wants to put your whiteboard online!

By Josh Ledgard

Aug 24th, 2011

Today we’re featuring Derick Bailey and BlueFin Sketchpads. I personally love the concept and could think of 100 times I would have used it working remotely in the last few years.  I also love his advice that’s shared below… 

Tell Us About Bluefin SketchPads

whiteboardI’ve worked in remote and distributed teams for 5+ years, spread out through my career. I’ve watched technology continuously improve our ability to always be connected, even when our team is thousands of miles away. What started off as email and simple instant messenger apps is now a variety of tools and technologies that all but put you in the room with the rest of your team. Everything from video conferencing to screen sharing, internet telephony and instant messaging, to distributed source control and chat room software and systems. All of these tools are available to help all of us stay connected.

But, even with all these advances in technology and tools, the one experience that I’ve always missed when working remotely is the whiteboard session. My coworkers and I would spend hours at whiteboards talking, designing, planning, discussing and generally doing what we as software developers are paid to do – thinking and collaborating to produce a product that no one could produce individually. I’ve tried a number of different solutions, over the years, to fill in this missing experience and they’ve all fell short in some way. So, a little over a year ago, I built the first version of Bluefin to solve a problem that I was facing. I used and abused what I wrote with great success and now I want to share it with the world (after a complete overhaul of course).

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It’s been a dream of mine since I first glued all the pieces together, to have a legitimate tool available for use by anyone with an internet connection and a modern browser. I’m finally heading down that path.

Who or what inspires you and why?

One of my primary sources of inspiration is the pain that developers must endure when using tools that consistently get in there way. I’m a software developer that does it all – from talking with clients, to delivering what I built and supporting the production system. I’ve worked with a lot of tools over the years, and in that time I’ve developed an outright hated for tools that get in my way or force me into a mode working that doesn’t suit my needs. I can’t – and won’t – stand for it. The idea behind Bluefin SketchPads is no different. I saw a problem that I was having, and the painful solutions that existed, and I want to fix it.

What advice do you have for anyone just getting started with a new business?

Two things:

1) Start right now. Not tomorrow. Not after your current “thing” slows down. You’re already reading blog posts on the web, so spend this 1 hour putting together a launch page and an explanation of your idea instead. It’s that simple. You should have done it already, in fact. I should have started building Bluefin into a viable product a year ago, by doing something this simple, but I didn’t. I regret having waited this long

2) Learn how to say no. Whether you’re going into consulting (my real job) or building products, you have to stay focused. Getting in over your head by not knowing how to say no will be the death of your business

What do you like most about [KickoffLabs](https://kickofflabs.com?

Three things:

1) It falls into the category of tools that I love – the ones that get out of my way, and let me focus on the value that the tool provides instead of the tooling itself. I looked at some of the competition and I was always turned off by the gimmicks and strange things you had to do just to use their service or build the launch page itself. KickoffLabs is a no-nonsense, get in and get it done tool.

2) It’s tremendously fun to use the KickoffLabs site not just to build my launch page, but to see the results and monitor the traffic and signups that are coming in. And, I have to admit, I get a little ego boost and shot of vanity every time I see new signups and unique visitor traffic :)

3) The support that the KickoffLabs team members provide is, without a doubt, world-class. I ran into some rather “interesting” issues because of the prior existence of my project, dealing with DNS, prior hosting of the domain name, etc. Half the time, KickoffLabs told me that there was a problem and how to fix it before I even knew there was a problem. The other half of the time when I reported a problem, they had it fixed within a matter of hours – not days, weeks or months. Every step of the way, they made sure I was getting the support I needed to get my launch page built and hosted on my doman name.

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