“Teamwork” – it’s a simple word, yet, this concept isn’t always achievable. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, attempting to synchronize with people for simple things such as what to get at the supermarket gets awkward at times thanks to shifting schedules and priorities. Luckily, the subject of this month’s Student Spotlight takes this pain point for most people, and improves upon it for the benefit of collaborative teams. Keep reading to learn about Kevin Ye and his team task management & communication application, Tack.
22-year-old Kevin Ye currently works on Tack in addition to his studies. He currently studies psychology at the University of Washington, while also pursuing a minor in entrepreneurship and a sales certificate. In his spare time, Kevin likes to binge watch shows online, as well as play poker.
“We’re making it easy for non-technical teams to communicate and manage their projects internally,” Ye says about the aim of his product. Tack currently ‘lives’ in Startup Hall, an organizational partnership between the university and benevolent private entities within the Pacific Northwest.
Old Problems, New Solutions
Fed up with the way he and previous teams communicated, Tack serves as a one-stop shop to collaborate with ease. After researching many tools and resources, none of them solved his issues of keeping track of accountability.
Of course, there was a catalyst for wanting to change team collaboration: time. Ye reveals that managers spend up to 30% of their time keeping track of their team through “inefficient avenues.” Because of the variety and nature of programs the team used, unnecessary communication drowned out important info. Tack eliminates this by allowing project managers to control the accountability experience as they see fit, to keep teams focused on their goals.
It’s worth mentioning that a few of the memes shared on these “inefficient avenues” were “hilarious.”
Tack-ing on More
As is the case with most new businesses, grand opportunities tend to come from unique situations. When it came time to assume the functions of the business, figuring out who would take on the chief executive role presented this exact scenario to Kevin. He assumed the title of CEO because the rest of his team took on other essential responsibilities. “I guess I took one for the team,” he says.
Thanks to Kevin’s leadership, this team of seven began working on the app, initially targeted toward Greek letter organizations. Following a period of testing, they realized that refocusing the target market allowed for a refreshed view of their product; with this came the potential for growth Ye and his team were looking for.
Yet, with Tack’s steady growth, comes the stark realization that school is still in session. While Ye admits there are times where his studies and Tack tasks may clash – like most working students – he maintains Tack is a labor of love. “I think I can speak for [my team] and say that we’re working on something that we’re extremely passionate about.”
Going Forward While Falling Back
Being able to juggle school and entrepreneurship might present a challenge to Ye, but it’s clear that nothing is stopping him achieving success in the market. He is steadfast in admitting what has (and hasn’t) gone well during the process, helping craft a path to continued achievement.
Noting a common mistake many new entrepreneurs make, Ye eludes to ignorance being bliss, revealing that the app was like the team’s child, and “…like many parents, we thought nothing could go wrong.” When development for Tack began, Kevin and the team knew that issues could arise, but a lack of additional insight clouded judgements. “We were blinded by our biases, at least I was,” he said.
As for advice, Ye is not short on pearls of wisdom. “Fail Faster. The only way to grow is to fail and learn from your mistakes. Stay humble and avoid getting overconfident, as the biggest mistake an entrepreneur can make is being too full of themselves. It blinds them.” He also urges those waiting to make a move to make the first jump, noting, “Once you’ve fully committed, it’s a lot less daunting and scary than it seems.”
What’s next for Kevin Ye and the Tack team? The brand expects to execute an open beta after closed alpha testing concludes, with a full launch estimated by Q2 2016.
Kevin’s future in Tack is also set. Answering the infamous question students hear more than their name, his answer rings clear: “The team and I are planning on working on Tack full-time once we graduate.”
When it comes to Kevin’s preferred way of leading, it’s all about example, “Anything you do your team will emulate. If you work harder so will they; if your morale is low, theirs will be as well. Be the change that you want.”
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