Your browser is no longer supported! Please upgrade your web browser now.
Posts by Danny Wen:

WalkaboutNYC, How It All Started

Prior to launching Harvest, Shawn and I were in the thick of operating our web design and development business. During those years, one of our biggest inspirations was seeing how other businesses looked on the inside. The physical office space represented the modern day workshop. Seeing other people’s spaces helped us imagine the type of workspace we wanted to create. How companies divided up their floor, how teams sat together (or not), what they decorated their space with — those were all signals of what the business believed in.

Workspaces continue to inspire us as we build Harvest today. The office is where we spend a big portion of our waking hours, and we want to continue to create the best environment for our team. We still seize opportunities to visit startups and technology companies in NYC and wherever we travel. Seeing photos is one thing but to visit the physical space where ideas come together and speak with the people there — those opportunities are rare.

In 2010, with the momentum of the technology ecosystem rising in New York, we decided to bring that opportunity to a larger audience. What if we organized an “open house for technology companies” so more people can take part in the experience of seeing space and meeting the people behind them? We coined it Walkabout, after all, it’s a journey of discovery and NYC is a fine city for walking. That year, the first WalkaboutNYC event launched with 15 brave, companies opening their doors.

WalkaboutNYC is now in its third year and the event has grown up. Over 55 companies in New York City have committed to the spirit of community and to provide insightful experiences to those that visit. From NYC-rooted companies like Fog Creek Software, Tumblr, Skillshare, Voxel to new transplants like Facebook and Spotify, we couldn’t be more excited about the roster this year.

2012 also marks the year that Walkabout went international. On Friday, May 11th, the first WalkaboutSG took place in the technology capital of Asia, Singapore. It’s tremendously rewarding to see friends latch on and lead this effort in their communities. We are confident that many great things will come out of it for the respective communities.

Hat tip to Karen Schoellkopf, Harvest community manager and the fearless organizer of the event. Without her, Walkabout would not have come together.

On Friday, if you are in NYC, we hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to visit technology companies, see how they work, and meet some great people along the way.

Visit WalkaboutNYC

On Craftsmanship

We’re currently navigating through the maze of acquiring a larger office space in Manhattan as we’ve outgrown our current headquarters. One of the interesting things we’ve found during this process is that the owners of large buildings will sometimes want to see our current office to get a feel for who we are. They want to know what kind of tenant they are about to offer a lease to.

We recently had one such office visit by a prospective landlord. After seeing how we’ve built out our current office and meeting some of our people, she became curious about the type of business we operated. While we can throw around terms like web software and SaaS all day long in our community, the reality is that to most people, what we do here is a foreign concept to them.

I took her through our business, showing her how Harvest is used and what types of customers we have. After getting a grasp of what we did, she looked around the room, eyeing the team, and asked, “What’s everybody doing? Are they just monitoring the website?” After all, the product appears to be working, what else might we need to do? The answer: a lot. As any software business knows, the product itself is just half the work.

To see it from her non-technical point of view, it wasn’t an outrageous question at all. I thought briefly how I would best answer this. Then I began:

Everyone here is a craftsman. Whether our craft is through technology, design or words, every person here is a craftsman. Like devoted woodworkers, we believe the back side of a cabinet is deserving of as much attention as the front side. Being craftsmen, we use our hard-won experience to build a trusted set of tools (whether physical, software or tools of the mind) to solve problems in the best way possible. As a collective, we shape the product and ultimately the entire Harvest service.

Our team is comprised of people who believe in crafting beautiful code, sweating the details and pixels, and working hard to find the right words to express our ideas. At the end of each day, we want to take a step back and say, “that’s our best work yet.”

That’s what everybody is doing here. We’re craftsmen (and women).

Harvest Everywhere: Introducing Harvest for Mac

Since launching Harvest in 2006, we have been on a mission to create the best time tracking solution for businesses. We started by launching Harvest as a web-based application, allowing access to your data from anywhere you have an internet connection and a web browser. Once your data is stored in the proverbial cloud, the possibilities become endless. We published the first version of the Harvest API just six months after Harvest launched. While people primarily used web browsers to access Harvest, we strongly believed in creating ways for additional devices and platforms work with your Harvest data.

Over the years, we’ve consistently built on top of Harvest to take advantage of the ever-changing technology available to our customers. We started with lightweight desktop widgets for Mac and Windows users. Later, we built mobile versions of Harvest for iPhone and Android as more customers needed to access Harvest on-the-go.

While Harvest began by providing a great web experience, we will continue to evolve as the technology around us evolves. Underpinning our evolution is the belief that you should be able to access Harvest from anywhere and everywhere. In short, we call this Harvest Everywhere.

Introducing Harvest for Mac

Today, we are pleased to announce the newest component to our Harvest Everywhere vision: Introducing Harvest for Mac, a lightweight, desktop companion for your Harvest account. We built Harvest for Mac with three goals in mind:

  • Lightning Fast Time Tracking – Time tracking is a pain only when it’s inconvenient. We know our users just want to focus on their work and not on time tracking, so we’ve made things super fast. With global hot-keys, Harvest for Mac users will be able to quickly start timers or enter notes and get back to work in seconds.
  • High Visibility – Harvest for Mac sits on your menu bar, keeping you updated on exactly how many minutes you’ve been spending on your current task and helping you focus. Additionally, stopping a timer is as easy as clicking on the “stop” icon in the menubar.
  • Idle Time Detection – Ever rush off to a meeting only to forget to stop your timer? Now when you return to your computer, Harvest for Mac will ask you if you want to keep the time tracked while your computer was idle, or if you want to correct it.

Watch the video to learn more:

Since our entire team tracks time internally, we can say with confidence that Harvest for Mac is a tremendous time saver for those who track time as they work. We hope our Mac users will find tracking hours to be easier than ever with Harvest for Mac.

Download Harvest for Mac (for free)

A Look Back at Harvest in 2011

In 2011, we made over 800 updates to Harvest. We had countless conversations with our customers, added new features, refined old features and fixed issues. The constant evolution is a part of who we are as a cloud-based software company. A new update can be deployed to our customers in over 100 countries in an instant and we love that.

It’s About the Team

Behind the scenes, we’ve focused on growing our team. By December of 2011, we added 8 brilliant Harvesters to round out the team at 19. We’ve learned new ways to work together, whether it’s creating Delta Force teams for support, thinking through feature requests, or getting face time with our customers.

With every new team member we add to Harvest, we’re adding one more mind that’s completely focused on making the Harvest experience better for our customers. Updates are done faster, problems are solved more efficiently and our customer service gets even better (send our support team an email during business hours and you’ll hear back from us within 15 minutes).

It’s been a tremendously educational year for us as a team. If you’d like to learn with us, we’re hiring. :)

Turning 5 Years Old

2011 also marked the 5th year we’re in business as Harvest. Harvest was first created to meet the time tracking needs that Shawn and I had during our days as a design studio.

Since the beginning, we’ve taken the approach of building things one step at a time. At first, it was out of necessity of being bootstrapped, but later, it was because we wanted to keep things simple. Year after year, more and more people adopted Harvest to power their businesses. In the process, we’re honored to have picked up the best kind of funding possible for a company: paying customers. Without the distractions of fundraising, we are free to focus on just making Harvest better.

We couldn’t have done it without the support of our amazing community and customers, so when we turned 5 in April, we launched our Giving Back program. As our users tracked time, we allocated donations towards important causes addressed by Doctors Without Borders, Room to Read and charity: water.

The first 5 years was just the beginning.

A Better Harvest

Our business philosophy is simple: create a great product and tell people about it. There are no gimmicks and no shortcuts. We simply love creating something useful and we’re happiest when our customers tell us how we’ve saved them time and hassle.

Our team proudly stands behind what Harvest offers and we’ve prepared a little something to look back on the major updates last year: Harvest 2011 Year In Review.

Thank you for a great 2011. We can’t wait to share the goodness with you in 2012.

Harvest Summit – Building Team Culture

Most of our team works out of our New York City office, but we also have team members across North America and Europe. Twice a year, we get everyone together for a week of in-person collaboration. For most of us, so much of our days are spent in the rhythm of work; and the majority of communication happens via email, Co-op, chat and Google hangouts. Our biannual Summits are designed to break up that rhythm and to reclaim the art of face time and in-person collaboration. We believe building great software means not only hiring the best people, but creating the best environment for collaboration. Beyond our products, we’re here to build a company.

During Summit, our team continues to work as usual, but with a few things mixed in. Here’s a sample of what we did at our last Summit in November:


Harvester Patrick Filler presenting a talk entitled “So You Think You Can Open Source”

Tech Talks
Curiosity is one of our core values. We believe not only in the constant pursuit of knowledge, but that it’s important to share what we’re learning with each other. While the talks are technical in nature, everyone in the company is invited to attend (we are a technology company afterall). Knowledge is shared not only for the sake of education but also to gather feedback. In our latest Tech Talks series, we discussed our new and improved approach to billing, an introduction to Chef and learnings from our open source project, Chosen.

Customer Visits
While every Harvester interacts with our customers via email or phone, there’s simply no substitute for visting our customers in person and getting to know what they do. We’re extremely customer focused as a company and we love learning from our customers. This year we visited three of them and you can read more about what we learned here.

♫ Don’t Stop Believin’ ♫
As you can gather from our careers page, we have a very musical group here at Harvest. It’s no coincidence that karaoke is one of our favorite pastimes. With each Summit, our team is bigger and our sessions are more epic.

As this year’s Summit wound down, we’re re-energized for the road ahead. More importantly, we’ve come away with a heightened understanding and appreciation for each other’s craft.

Want to join us on our next Summit? We are always looking for great minds to come along for the ride. :)

Teams At Work: Creating a South Park Episode in 6 Days

South Park has long surprised me at how they continuously create intelligent material year after year (first episode aired in 1997). Even more impressive is how quickly the show can work in recent events to its social commentary. Current events that happened a week before can easily find their way into an episode the following Wednesday.

60 Minutes recently went behind the scenes with Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of the show, to find out just how they do it. It all starts with a brainstorm session on Thursday morning and results in a completed episode, ready to air, the following Wednesday.

The 5-minute segment below shows the process of how Matt and Trey’s tightly-knit team go from idea to finished product in just 6 days.

Read more at 60 Minutes

Turning 5 and Giving Back

This month, Harvest turns 5 years old.

When we launched the first version of Harvest, it was just a simple solution to the age-old problem of time tracking. It took a stance on simplicity and harnessed newly available technology and ideas. We built it to help us run our own consulting business back then, and we shared it with our colleagues who needed it.

With each passing year, we’ve improved our product, attracted more customers and gradually addressed other pain points related to time tracking, like invoicing. Today, Harvest serves customers in over 100 countries, and it’s exciting to work everyday with a growing team of amazing individuals.

Beyond Just Business

With our New Founders Program and contributions to open source, giving back to the communities around us has always been an important part of our business.

In recognition of our fifth year of business, we’re launching a 10-day “track your time for a cause” initiative. Every hour tracked by our customers who opt-in can go towards a good cause. Customers track time as they normally do, and we contribute to a good cause of their choice. It’s another small way for us to contribute to the ecosystem at large. Read more about this effort on our Giving Back page.

Thanks for your support over the last five years and we look forward to bringing you exceptional service over the next five years and beyond.

Introducing Android Time Tracker for Harvest

Mobile devices have come a long way since their heyday as a voice communication device. Beyond helping us connect with friends and family, the smartphone has become a powerful business tool in the palm of our hands.

After we released Harvest for iPhone last year, it came as no surprise that one of the most frequent requests from customers has been for us to create a mobile app for Android. We’ve been paying close attention to the adoption of Android amongst our users and late last year decided that having a great mobile companion for Android was simply too important to not address. We needed to provide the best and most convenient way for our users to access Harvest on the emerging smartphone platform.

android-time-tracker

With the release of the official Harvest Android time tracker app, Android users can now enjoy the same powerful features available to iPhone users: start and stop timers on the go, enter expenses, and snap photos of receipts to securely send them to your Harvest account.

Now whether the members on your team have iPhones or Android devices, everyone will have access to the important mobile-centric things they might need to do while on the go.

Mobile phones will continue to rapidly evolve in form and function even over the next few months. We are committed to bringing you the best experience with Harvest, especially as the times are a changin’.

Visit Android time tracker to learn more and download this companion app for free.

BONUS: Have a Windows Phone 7? Check out the soon-to-be-released 3rd party app, TimeTractor: Windows Phone 7 Time Tracker

Continue reading…

Lending a Hand to New Zealand Earthquake Relief

On February 22nd, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 hit Christchurch, New Zealand. Yesterday, Christchurch resident and Harvest customer Stephen McCarthy sent us a note:

Hi Guys. Just wanted to say thanks for your product. I live in Christchurch, New Zealand and have a small design studio here in the CBD that was hit by the earthquake last week… we had to literally run from our building just before a load of bricks fell on my desk…. here’s a link of us getting out – that’s me putting my shoes on outside: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teicHEyJbf0

The building is munted, we won’t get back in to get our stuff and I luckily grabbed my laptop so can continue with some stuff. It’s been awesome having Harvest and ability to have access to files, projects and timesheets…. it means I can carry on…. so thanks a bunch.

Yours sincerely,
Stephen McCarthy
New Zealand
http://www.stephenmccarthy.net

As the email circulated around the team, two things occurred to us. First, we were shocked by the footage and curious to learn more about the incident. Second, as a company, we all wanted to help in some small way.

We started to think of ideas: should we give them a free month, send them something, what ways can we help? Ultimately, we decided on 3 months of Harvest for the 8 customers identified in Christchurch, so these customers can focus on the important matters at hand. However, beyond just affecting 8 customers, we wondered if we could help out more simply by raising awareness of this incident to the Harvest community.

As a web-based service, we are in the unique position to serve customers from all over the world. We are all connected as fellow entrepreneurs, designers, developers, craftspeople, customers, businesses, and humans. As we build the community around our company, we want it to be more than just about business. If our community of passionate users can also help each other along the way, then all the more meaningful it is for everyone.

You can learn more about the earthquake here:

If you would like to help, consider a donation to Red Cross New Zealand or just simply leave a comment to connect with fellow Harvest users in Christchurch, NZ.

Harvest in the Wall Street Journal

When you are a small business, getting your clients to pay you on time isn’t always straight-forward. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published a piece on how entrepreneurs are using online services to help with this challenge.

They asked us how we help our customers get paid. Here’s the excerpt:

Marian Phelan, president of Hashrocket Inc., a Jacksonville, Fla., software developer, says her firm started using Harvest in 2009 because it made it easy for company programmers to click a button on their computers whenever they were doing work for a particular client.

The system then compiles that billable time into an invoice, and users can enter additional items such as expenses.

Harvest also offers a less stressful option for managers who hate dunning their customers. “You can set up automated reminders to remind clients if an invoice is past due,” says Danny Wen, co-founder of the New York-based site, whose services start at $12 a month. “Then it’s the application doing the reminder—not the person. It makes things less awkward.”

Check out the full article for all the tips: