Yesterday I cleaned out my desk and tossed about 200 business cards in the trash. That's 200 connections -- mostly people I've met at conferences and forgotten over time -- discarded alongside the banana peels and candy wrappers at the bottom of my garbage can. The digital age was supposed to fix this, but while connecting with someone over LinkedIn or Facebook is more convenient than a business card exchange, those connections still don't DO anything. They just sit there.
Enter Tracky, a Las Vegas startup with huge ambitions. Winner of our App It Out contest at Future Insights Live 2012, Tracky aims to create a social layer in which anyone can connect, collaborate, and share with anyone else. Tasks, projects, to-do lists, file sharing, and other social collaboration features are baked into Tracky, so the end result is a collaboration tool that covers your entire life. Each Tracky user becomes an orbital node that can plug into social groups, whether they're work-related or not.
According to co-founder David Gosse, Tracky aims to usher in an era of "hyperproductivity."
"Most productivity software is paid for by the company. We wanted to shift that model. No matter where you go, you keep your Tracky account, and over time it's building a profile of who you are, who you're connected to, and what you've achieved," he says. "It propels you forward with what you need to get done, but with the Facebook mechanics that make it fun."
Born of Necessity
Gosse and his co-founder (and wife) Jennifer Gosse launched Tracky after years of running another startup called Vortaloptics, a vertical search engine provider. They found it difficult to manage all the tasks, projects, employees, and clients within traditional project management software like Sharepoint. A developer on their staff, Andy Edinborough, volunteered to design a better solution and within a few months had developed the backbone of what would become Tracky -- a Twitter-like activity stream in which information was organized into groups and projects.
"Once we deployed with our team and clients, we realized people really liked using it. Everyone started getting things done more quickly and productively and had more fun doing it," says Jennifer Gosse.
Almost immediately, the Gosses recognized the potential of their internal system as a standalone product. They incorporated Tracky in 2010 and by the Spring of 2011 began working on it full-time. Tracky now has 11 employees.
Not Just a Collaboration Platform
Activity streams and to-do lists are not unique to Tracky, of course. There are several cloud-based options for work-based collaboration, including Trello, Asana, and Do. However, the scope of Tracky's potential use cases extends far beyond simple project management. For example, Tracky could replace a traditional CMS system, allowing multiple users to collaborate on a blog post and publish directly from Tracky onto the site.
The platform can also be used as a built-in system for brand engagement. The company is currently working with popular radio host Jerry Doyle on a new website that will use Tracky as the backbone for collaboration among site visitors -- think comments 2.0. Eventually Doyle's team will be able to easily identify superusers, crowdsource new ideas, and extend his brand's reach into that audience. The next step could be extending that platform to all 22 show hosts in Doyle's network, and you end up with what Gosse calls "Mashable for the radio industry."
Conference producers (like us) and attendees can also use Tracky to start collaborating immediately after an initial meeting on-site, linking their public profiles and starting in on projects before even catching a flight home. (See this article in Search Engine Watch for more details on the conference scenario).
How Tracky Plans to Get Big
Unlike traditional project management software, Tracky is aimed squarely at consumers. And to be successful in the consumer market, you need massive adoption. The first step is to continue developing the product until it's ready for a full public release. While Tracky is available to anyone now, it's still in beta and iterating consistently. David Gosse estimates the fully-baked version is three to six months away.
"We need to get the product to its next version, which simplifies and cleans up the interface a bit and makes the product more intuitive so anyone can come in and very quickly understand how to use it," sayd David Gosse. "And we're really amping up the discovery component to help people find each other."
Once the product is ready, Tracky aims for widespread adoption by targeting early adopters and specific groups for engagement. This includes tech-savvy conference-goers, but also interest-focused groups such as large churches and other organizations. Tracky hopes groups with common interests will collaborate on home pages to replace the standard Google home page on their web browsers, with each user entering an engagement screen each time they fire up a browser.
In the end, it all comes down the central philosophy of Tracky -- that your connections aren't just a feed or a digital business card to be thrown away with the trash, says David Gosse.
"In life you connect with people hoping you actually do something with those connections. You want to share something or market something or grow your business through those connections. Tracky wants to be that full circle."
Tracky by the numbers
- Founded: 2011
- Funding: $1.5 million ($1 million bootstrapped, $500K from Angel investor Rob Roy)
- Employees: 11
- Location: Las Vegas
- Home page: Tracky.com