How To Use Sendtask With The SMART Framework

smart framework

The SMART framework is frequently mentioned in management literature. It’s a goal-setting framework used by organizations and individuals based on Peter Drucker’s concept of management by objectives. Often, the acronym stands for different things depending on the author. For our purposes, it stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-oriented
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

That’s how you should be able to define your goals and key objectives.

In this post, we’ll look at how you can utilize Sendtask to make the most out of the SMART framework (and vice-versa). If you’ve struggled with getting the right things done on time, this post will help you manage your time and goals better. We’ll look at five steps you can take today in order to reach your biggest objectives. Let’s dive in.

#1. Establish a specific goal or outcome

The first step you need to take when defining your goals or objectives is to determine your end destination. There are many ways to do this but one of the most efficient ones is visualization.

As the name suggests, visualization requires you to imagine where you or your organization stand some time in the future. A good way to make visualization easier is to write down the current state of affairs for a single or a number of different areas – either in your life or your business. This could be things like your Health or Profitability. Once you write down the current status for each area, ask yourself how you’d like this area to improve after a given amount of time. This could be a week, a month, a year or more, depending on the goal you’re after.

Once you have a clear vision of the outcome, make sure it’s something specific. For example, “Improve profitability” is a vague description of a goal. “Improve men’s bicycle margin by 10% before year-end” is a better example of a specific objective. It identifies a single area to focus on, provides a deadline and identifies a metric to keep an eye on.

Sendtask tip: Sections and Projects are a great way to set long-term goals for yourself or your organization. Short-term goals can normally be set using tasks. Learn more.

#2. Choose the one metric that matters

The one metric that matters (OMTM) is the “guiding star” of your objective. It’s a (usually) numeric expression of your concrete vision. From the example above, men’s bicycle margin is our OMTM.

Among other things, the OMTM helps you stay on focus and never lose sight of your goal. It also lets you track your progress against a benchmark which provides greater motivation. Having a series of little wins along the way to a bigger goal can be the difference between success and failure. The momentum gives you a great boost and makes hard times easier to handle.

So, how do you choose the OMTM? First, you need to take into account the context you operate in. This could be your industry if you run a business or it could be your life-stage if you want to change something personal. The OMTM can influence your end goal because you may find you were going after the wrong thing initially. This is why it’s important to remain flexible when setting goals and objectives. Think deeply about the OMTM before jumping into action as it may just save you a ton of time and resources.

Sendtask tip: When setting up high-level projects and sections, it’s a good idea to include the one metric that matters in the title. This way you will always have it in sight and stay on focus when creating tasks and subtasks. Learn more.

10% extra margin

#3. Make sure action steps are within your control

Even if you choose a specific and measurable goal, it’s easy to focus on an extrinsic goal. When you choose an extrinsic objective, often you don’t have enough control over the outcome. Going back to our bicycle example, if you’re the receptionist you will have little to no influence over sales margins.

Instead, you should only focus on goals you have control over. You need to be able to perform or control the action steps directly, without depending too much on external factors. For example, if your aim is to become a better programmer, an action oriented goal would be to spend 1 extra hours per day coding. That’s within your control and impacts your outcome directly.

Sendtask tip: If an end goal is dependent on many people, not just yourself, tasks and subtasks are a great way to delegate work. Even if the bigger objective is extrinsic, individual tasks or subtasks should be action-oriented. Learn more.


#4. Make sure the goal or outcome is realistic

Another mistake people often make is setting unrealistic goals. Sometimes, the timeframe is unattainable while other times the goal is beyond our current abilities. It’s important to make an objective evaluation of where you stand right now and where you want to go.

#5. Set a concrete deadline

Finally, if you want to get something done, make sure it’s on the calendar. A goal without a deadline is just a dream. A concrete date can push you so you don’t waste time and take consistent action.

When setting a goal deadline, allow yourself more time than you expect the goal to take. We tend to underestimate how much time or money projects will take so it’s always good to have a buffer. This will help prevent demoralization and it will give you something to look forward to.

Sendtask tip: It’s easy to set a due date in Sendtask. Some careful evaluation and a few clicks will let you make substantial progress with your goals. Learn more.

set deadline


It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned manager or someone who’s just getting into the productivity space – the SMART framework is always a good way to ensure you’re on track and achieving the right goals.

So the next time you step back to establish your new goals, spend that extra time and make your goal Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-bound. The bigger the goal, the bigger your return on your time invested will be.

How To Put Yourself In The Shoes Of A New User Over And Over Again

new user

The user experience (UX) of Sendtask is what makes or breaks us. If we succeed in building a good product, we create an experience that is fun, friendly and self-explanatory. Most important are the first few steps a new user takes in our app. In today’s day and age, people don’t spend minutes on trying new apps and products – they spend seconds. This is why the new user experience is extremely important.

It is easy to get distanced from this experience once you are a frequent user – or even a developer or designer on our team. Everything becomes familiar and it is difficult to see what’s self-explanatory and what’s not. Once we realized this, we built a system that helps us put ourselves into the shoes of a new user over and over again to remind us of these critical first few steps.

We do this in two exercises: onboarding feedback during our weekly call and group user feedback call during our retreats.

Onboarding feedback during our weekly call

Part of our weekly call is one person speaking about the best three things and the worst three things in a new user’s experience. Prior to the call, they ask a friend or other new user to go through the sign-up and onboarding process of Sendtask and then learn about their experience.

On one side, this is important because it forces this team member to dive deep with a new user and their experience with the product. On the other side, our team member might work on something that has little or no influence on the experience a new user goes through and we think that it is important that everyone knows about this crucial topic and learns about how well we’re currently doing first hand.

Group User Feedback Call

We schedule a call with one of our users (or groups of users in the case of companies) during the retreat and the whole team participates in the call. This is typically a longer call of about 45 minutes and covers more than just the onboarding experience.

We use this call to understand:

  • How the user found Sendtask
  • What they use it for
  • What works well for them
  • Which features they are missing
  • What was confusing
  • What was clear and straightforward

It’s been best for us to ask open-ended questions and let the users talk. Their feedback is worth gold and often answers very clearly what to focus on and how to prioritize our feature pipeline.

We also use the call to show them some hidden features. «Hidden» not because these features are actually hidden, but because our documentation is way behind and we know we can do a much better job at explaining the complete feature set of Sendtask.


These are two elements we use to put us in the shoes of new users and to become conscious of the things we’re doing well and the things we’re not doing so well yet.

What processes do you use to make sure you get an unfiltered view of your user experience?

What Drives A Distributed Company – The Vision And Mission Statement

vision and mission

Communication is key in any business. But in a remote setup, it becomes even more crucial to have everyone on the same page. At Sendtask, we spend the first day of every retreat on the Vision and Mission of the company. On one hand, we want to make sure our strategy and actions are aligned. On the other hand, it is a good opportunity to get new team members up to speed.

Our combined vision and mission statement is quite long currently – and so by design. Given how young we are and how often our product changes, we found it helpful to have a very detailed Vision and Mission statement to guide us when we decide on what to build next and how to build it.

Our vision

“We strive to empower makers to realize bold ideas…”

You might ask: Where’s the connection between a collaborative task management application and enabling people to realize bold ideas?

No goal is too big if it can be broken down into smaller steps. By themselves, these steps are not as intimidating as the larger goal. A tool that allows you to break down big projects into small ones helps you do more and bigger things than you would have imagined.

Another term that we talked about a lot is who ‘makers’ are. The term is a bit pre-occupied by the tinkerers. But we understand it in a bigger sense – anyone who creates things, who makes the leap from nothing to something, anyone who moves people and projects. It includes project managers in corporations, leaders in local clubs as well as entrepreneurs.

Our mission

“… with a collaborative tool that allows them to work with anyone, prioritize and focus and assists them in a smart and friendly way, when and where they get work done.”

This is a long one but describes accurately what we’re building. “With anyone” is at the core of Sendtask. We are building Sendtask because none of the existing tools allowed us to share tasks and collaborate with anyone. People needed onboarding, they needed accounts and very often they needed training. In Sendtask none of this is required. As long as you know someone’s email address, you can collaborate with them in an efficient way.

Sendtask allows you to ‘prioritize and focus’. Both are extremely important in order to be efficient. Sendtask allows you to collect all your tasks in one list and to prioritize from there. Ideally, you’ll never have more than five items due on a single day and you can focus on them one by one.

We use natural language processing (NLP) to allow you to create tasks without clicking into ten different fields. Just type “Hey @Joe, please send me the report until Monday #reporting”, and Sendtask will do the rest. Set the assignee, the title, the due date and it will also add the #reporting project. Pretty smart! 🙂

Sendtask makes work more enjoyable. With a fun and friendly user experience, we make it enjoyable to check tasks off. Fun quotes here and there and beautiful animations, along with gamification, make work a lot more fun on Sendtask.

The ‘when and where they get work done’ relates to the virtual world. We don’t want to be yet another app that you need to keep open and that takes your focus away when you have to switch to it to create a task. Instead, we’re integrating with the apps you already use like Slack and Email. Using our integrations, you can create tasks seamlessly wherever you get things done.


Coming back to our vision and checking if we’re on the right track or if we need to make any adjustments, is hard work. The discussion can become emotional and long quickly. However, it’s a time and energy investment that is always worth it. Only when everyone on our team understands what we are building and why we’re building it, will they be able to contribute in their full capacity.

How do you continuously work on your vision and mission statement?

Six Tips For Your Startup Board Meeting

board meetings

I’ve sat in board meetings on both sides of the table – both as a founder and as an investor. It feels like there are countless articles, books and whole blogs dedicated to various parts of the startup life. Yet, in my experience, there’s very little written about startup board meetings, which are crucial for a very important relationship – the one between founders and investors.

Here are some of my learnings from the past few years on both sides of the table.

#1: Preparation is everything

If you are smart, you have attracted smart people to join your board. If they’re smart and successful, chances are they have days just as full as yours.

So do yourself and your investors a favor by allowing them to be prepared so that you can focus on discussions when you meet. There’s no bigger waste of time than reading something to someone that they could have read in advance.

Send over the board meeting agenda with all attachments until no later than two days before the meeting. Track and answer questions directly via comments in a Google Drive document or track them separately on a shared list (you could use or for this). Get as many detail questions answered as possible so that you can focus on the things that really matter during the meeting. Strategic decisions, hiring, vision and the likes.

#2 Keep the reporting separate from the board meetings

This one is related to #1. Don’t mix reporting with board meetings. Meetings are there to discuss things. Reporting is one-way communication. It’s data supply and it should always be done in written form and ahead of time. Whether you do it via Google Sheets, Slack or any other form of communication, give your investors access to the right amount of data. They don’t need to know every little detail – that’s your job. They need to understand how the business is doing and most probably they will need less than ten KPIs to do that.

#3 Provide a brief look back

There’s a lot of dynamic in your company – and that’s ok. Marketing channels that you thought would work well might not perform as expected. People you hired and bet big on might not deliver what they promised. Sales deals that were 99% safe might not go through. That’s ok and you should not focus on what has happened in the past.

But provide your investors with a summary of what went well and what didn’t go too well since you last met to bring everyone onto the same page. To do that, a system that has worked well for me in the past is to ask yourself: What were the three biggest highlights and the three biggest lowlights since we last met? Write them down as one sentence each. Start the meeting by giving a brief commentary – less than five minutes should be enough to set the context for everyone.

#4 Focus on the challenges ahead

You’ve found smart people to invest in your company. Now use them and pick their brains on the things where you need help. Ideally, you will have less than three topics to discuss. This allows you to dive deep and get real value from your investors.

If you’ve followed #1, you’ve already supplied your investors with the necessary background info and you can dive right in. Ask your investors not for advice, but experiences that relate to the topics at hand (a trick I’ve learned from Entrepreneur’s Organization).

Have they been in a similar situation? How did they react? What went well? What didn’t go well? Were they able to deduct some general rules from that situation? If so, do they apply to your business? From past experience, did everyone come to the same conclusions? If not, in what are they different? In what way are they similar?

#5 Vision and mission

The length of this block will depend on how many things you discussed in #4 and to which extent. But your learnings since the last meeting – what went well, what didn’t, who you hired, who you fired – almost certainly had an impact on your strategy and may call for a slight or drastic shift. And that may influence your company’s vision and mission. When investors invest, they almost always do so because they buy into your vision and mission. So make sure to keep them up to date. If they invest in startups, they will understand that the vision and mission are very dynamic in the early days of a company. Just don’t leave them in the dark.

Ask yourself – how do your learnings influence how you’ll do business? Let your investors know and make sure they’re in the same boat as you. They bring a backpack full of different experiences with them. Profit from this diverse set of experiences and use it to avoid making mistakes someone else made before.

#6 Take-Aways & meeting minutes

Keep track of the decisions you make and the to-dos that come up. Intros that you want your investor to make, additional material you want to send them or interviews where you want them to vet some of your key people. Make sure to track these to-dos in a place where they are actionable and can’t be easily forgotten. I’ve sat in countless meetings where we realized at the beginning of the meeting that almost none of the to-dos from the last meeting were done. We kept them in a Google Doc at the end of the meeting notes – and they didn’t go anywhere from there.

Use software like Sendtask, Asana or similar to hold everyone accountable.

Also, keep minutes in a useful format. No one will ever go through a five-page minute document quoting every single thing that was said in that meeting. Boil the minutes down to a summary that captures the essence of what was discussed and decided. Notes longer than two pages have almost zero chance of ever being read.


Be respectful of time – yours and that of your investors. For a valuable board meeting, provide all information in advance in written form. Keep reporting separate from board meetings. Give a brief summary of what has happened since the last meeting and point out three highlights and three lowlights. Then, deep-dive on a maximum of three topics. Make sure to hear what experiences your investors have to share and how they can apply to your business. Finally, make sure your meetings produce actionable takeaways. Keep summarized meeting minutes and actionable to-do items. Use tools like Sendtask or Asana to hold people accountable.

What is your experience with board meetings? What tip should I add to this list?

How We Came Up With The Idea For Sendtask


The idea for Sendtask developed over time. Here’s how it shifted into its current form.

The four (unconnected) dimensions of productivity apps

About two years ago I started thinking about my frustration with how unconnected my productivity apps are. I think most productivity tools can be attributed to one of four core categories: Communication, Scheduling, Tasks and Data storage. In each category, I use at least one tool. My productivity suite on my desktop looks like this:

Communication: Apple Mail, Whatsapp Web, Slack, Facebook Messenger
Scheduling: Google Calendar, Fantastical, Apple Calendar
Tasks: Asana, Trello, Text notes
Data Storage: Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox

What frustrated me was how many manual interactions were needed between these apps. For example, when I received a task via email, I had to manually switch to Asana and create that task manually. Once that task was completed, I also had to manually go back and let people know that this was done. When I got an event invitation or agreed on a meeting time on Slack or Whatsapp, I had to manually go to my calendar, ask the other participants for their calendar emails to invite them and then send the invite. During the meeting, I had to manually create a Google Drive Document or Evernote and keep track of meeting notes. Then, I had to send out those minutes after the meeting.


What frustrated me was that a) it seemed so simple to detect events and tasks in any of those channels; and b) that there’s no interface to create links and link objects. For example, if I could link the calendar event of a meeting with the corresponding meeting notes and the corresponding task list, I could avoid a lot of duplication. This way, if I were to go back to that meeting, it would be easy to find all connected parts. When I’m working on a task that came out of this meeting, I’d like to have a quick link to jump to the meeting notes. This way I don’t need to copy all the necessary info into the task. Once that task is completed, I’d like to have a quick way to inform the rest of the participants.

Out of this frustration grew an idea with project name «blacksteak». I’ve started to work on it myself and soon hired a developer to progress quicker. To show these links between all the apps, you have to integrate with all of them or re-create the UI. We opted for the 2nd route. 

Prototype and UI

project-blacksteakA screenshot of the Blacksteak UI

The prototype had a UI for an email client, its own calendar, online storage and a task list. The UI had a difference to all the clients that existed – it offered a ‘context sidebar’ on the right side. This sidebar served three purposes:

– It offered the user to create a new linked object. E.g. when you were looking at an email, it offered to create a related task. That task was automatically shared with all the people in the email with a link in both directions.
– It offered one-click creation of new items based on the content it recognized. If an email contained information about an event, the sidebar offered a way to create it with one click. Similarly, you could also invite the people who are in the email.
– It showed links to previously linked items. If you created the task and the event mentioned in the examples above, you had a one-click link to them.

The prototype was already useful to me but it lacked a lot of the functionality that a user expects. We could have added some of it but often it was not available via some the products’ API. Also, going the Interface route meant that we had to champion in at least four productivity interfaces where large corporations (think Apple, Google and Facebook) have impressive teams working on getting just one of them right.

Undoubtedly there was also a benefit of having all four dimensions in the same UI – the same shortcuts, the same button placement and other standardization meant that a user only had to learn one interface instead of four or more separate ones.

Testing with users

We started to show our prototype to test users and got very mixed feedback. Some of them saw the long term benefits and would have given the app a try once we added more functionality s.t. it could replace 80% of their existing app’s feature set. Others didn’t see big enough of a pain point with their current setup. Yes, they were doing all these manual steps, but they had always done it this way and got used to it. It didn’t seem like a big problem to them.

However, one thing was common for all their feedback: They all liked our task manager and the idea that they could share tasks instead of emails with anyone. We had built a very simplistic version because we realized that Trello, Asana, Podio, and the likes didn’t offer a way to share a task with anyone via email. Users always needed to create an account first before they were able to receive tasks. That didn’t work for us of course because we wanted people to be able to create and share tasks via a one-click action from the sidebar. If you first had to convince your collaborators to create an account with one of the aforementioned products and then to go through some training to know how to use these tools, we knew it wouldn’t work.

Sendtask was born

This is where the core idea for Sendtask came from. I have been an early user of Asana, Trello and others. Tool like these made our internal workflows at mediasign much more efficient. But I couldn’t use these tools with our clients or some 3rd party providers like lawyers, accountants, etc. – I would always revert to my ‘old habits’ (read: email) when working with people outside our own team.

We spent a good amount of time researching the market because we were sure that someone must have built a tool that does this. The solution seemed obvious to us: Build a tool with a more simple interface that doesn’t need any explanation. Also, allow users without an account to authenticate via a link that they receive in the email that notifies them about the task.

We couldn’t find a tool that did this in a clean and simple way and decided to go ahead and build it ourselves. Most of our test users liked the idea and we realized that this was a larger pain point for them. This is how we decided to focus on just one feature of project «blacksteak» and how Sendtask was born.

Sendtask Team Retreat in Berlin – Recap and Takeaways for Your Team


Yesterday I got back from Berlin after another amazing week with the team. While working remotely has many benefits, nothing beats spending time with the team. I was really looking forward to seeing everyone again and especially Armen, our mobile developer, who had only recently joined our team.

Including travel days, we spent seven days together. The two travel days left us only five days to work on long-term concepts, explore Berlin together and, of course, to have fun and create memories.

I’ve detailed the reasons why we’re doing retreats and how we structure our days in another post. This is what the actual days looked like:

Day 1 – Thursday

After our morning workout and a visit to one of the many good coffee shops in Berlin, we started with collecting our expectations for the retreat. We went in circles and everyone added items to the list until we felt we covered everything. Expectations ranged from «Decide how to collaborate as we grow» and «define the roadmap for next features» to «Create Memories» and «Good Food». We then created categories and assigned all of the items mentioned to their respective category. We ended up with about three work-related categories and a few ‘fun’ categories like “Go to an Escape room”.


Defining retreat expectations in our coworking space

The three work-related categories corresponded to the bigger topics we had previously thought about and thus already planned the long term blocks for these.

We started with a block called «Vision Refresher». The goal was to check if we are on the right path, if the vision we captured during the last retreat still fits the one in our head, and to get our new team member up to speed on why we think the vision is right.

We had a couple more sessions as a team and individual work on everyone’s weekly project in the afternoon. We ended the day with a nice dinner at a local restaurant called Katz Orange.

Day 2 – Friday

Every morning when we gathered at the office, we started with two things – an icebreaker/ team building exercise and a riddle. On Friday morning the icebreaker that we did was called «Fears in a hat». We slightly changed it to «Fears in a backpack» due to a missing hat. The idea behind this was fairly simple: Write down a fear that you have or had. Everyone submitted this anonymously on a piece of paper and all papers were put into a backpack. Everyone then picked one paper and read the fear out loud. We then talked about how we can relate or can’t relate to that fear and how we share similar fears. We did not identify which fear was originally written down by whom. This exercise led to very interesting discussions and we learned a lot about each other that wouldn’t usually come up at a dinner discussion.


One of our team exercises involved building a tower out of marshmallows and sticks!

We made a lot of progress on the weekly project that day and synchronization within teams. We left to play blacklight mini golf in the early afternoon. Later, as one should on a Friday evening in Berlin, we did a bit of bar hopping and enjoyed the variety of the Berlin nightlife.

Day 3 – Saturday

We decided to start the morning workout at 9 am instead of 7 am this time. The bar hopping had left some marks on everyone and we were all glad to get a few more hours of sleep.

Saturday was an important day – our long term session was about «User Retention». We realized that we were getting a constant inflow of users by now but we had a hard time at retaining some of them. Our product has a lot of rough edges and we started by writing down what we think «Sucks about Sendtask». We collected all of these, grouped them by the team that could solve them (bugs, for example, were assigned to the tech team while missing documentation was assigned to the content/support team).

Then, we identified the ‘quick wins’ and agreed on a prioritization for the order in which we would attack them.

We had scheduled a call with some of our users later that day to interview them about the product and hear what they like and don’t like. The users we talked to were some of our first heavy users that we did not know personally. They had found us on a website and decided to give the app a try. By now they have added over ten of their team members and are using Sendtask daily. Hearing what value the product brings to their team and how they’ve been able to be more efficient by using it, was great for our spirit. After focusing mostly on what we didn’t do right all day, it was inspiring to hear what we DID do right.


Taking notes as one of our heavy users describes what we do well and what we can improve on

Day 4 – Sunday

After a quick work session in the morning, we went for brunch to the Bavaria Hofbräuhaus in Berlin. There, we met Fabian and Thomas, two of our investors. They had flown in for two days to meet the team and give presentations on their areas of expertise. We included them in our daily icebreaker exercise and the riddle and after a two-hour brunch, we headed to the office where we started with a round of introductions.


A policeman is taking our group photo near the Berlin TV tower after we met with Fabian and Thomas

There were only about two hours for breakout sessions where everyone tried to get as much out of their time with Fabian and Thomas. At about 2 pm we left for ‘Picnic’. After the last retreat, everyone mentioned that they loved surprises. So I decided to take them for one.

Thinking we were going for a Picnic, everyone got into a bus and we left Berlin, headed to Brandenburg, the countryside surrounding Berlin. About 30mins in, I told them we were not going for Picnic but instead we’re Skydiving. Some of them were slightly shocked but all of them were excited. About 20 minutes later, we arrived and soon got ready to jump out of an airplane. It was a beautiful, cloud-free day and while the ride up to 4000m was tense, the jump was an unforgettable experience.


Getting ready to jump off an airplane 4000m above sea level

Day 5 – Monday

Monday already marked our last day as a group. We made the most out of our morning when Fabian and Thomas gave their presentations. Fabian helped us understand how agencies will use Sendtask and Thomas presented the basics of Web Security.

dr Thomas Dübendorfer

Dr Thomas Dübendorfer presents the basics of Web Security

We thought we did a pretty good job in this area but soon realized that there was room for improvement.

Fabian and Thomas left in the afternoon and we decided to finish our time together with an Escape Room Battle. After finishing very closely one after another (36 seconds!), we went for a dinner and a few drinks together and said goodbye.


In only five days, we got an incredible amount of work done and created a bunch of memories together that we’ll never forget. While it sometimes sucks not to see our team more often, these retreats make it all worth the wait. I’m already looking forward to our next one which will come up in September.

Our Retreat In Berlin Is Starting Today

We work completely distributed and remotely in Sendtask – except for when we go on a retreat. Four times a year we fly everyone to work in the same place. Why? To address the things that are easier to discuss in person. Strategy, Vision, Product Brainstormings, long-term roadmap and more. And last but not least – to have some fun together.

This time we’re meeting in Berlin. Most of the team did not know where we’re going until yesterday. We’re all big fans of riddles – and so the team found out about where we’re going for the retreat last night in a riddle during our weekly call.

We’re going to spend five full days together.

Our typical schedule will look like this:

  • The day starts at 7 am with an hour-long workout session.
  • We get to the coworking space at about 8:30 am.
  • We start with an ice breaker exercise (some of the team members are with us for the first time) and the daily riddle.
  • Now that our physical and mental muscles are warmed up, we dive into one of the long term topics. Some of the things that we’ll have sessions on are Vision, User Retention, Processes (How to further fine tune the way we work together? How do we prioritize features? What milestones are we working towards?) and some breakout sessions for the tech & product teams.
  • After lunch, we reserve 2-4 hours per day for individual group work. Everyone will work on a weekly project that they present at the end of the retreat. This could be a set of small features that we couldn’t get done in the daily grind or catching up on documentation or some fun animation that will enhance the user experience.
  • At about 4 pm we leave the office to explore Berlin and all the fun things to do there. We have quite a few fun things planned – but as most of them will be surprises (I’ll write about these after they’ve happened).

While working remotely is efficient, convenient and in many ways beneficial, it’s important for us to not forget about the human and social component. Getting together on retreats like this one allows us to both work efficiently on big topics while also having a great time together and exploring a new city!

Does your team go on retreats? How are they different from ours?

How We Keep Everyone Aligned With Just One 60 Minute Weekly Call


At Sendtask, we are a completely virtual company. There are no two people in the same place or office. We only talk to one another once a week – for less than 60 minutes. We are very strict about that limit and often keep the weekly call to 45 minutes or less.

Every Wednesday we all get on a synchronous video call on to discuss the topics that need to be discussed synchronously with the group as a whole.

Why do we limit the time we talk to each other to as little as possible?

We are building a company that allows everyone to work when they are most productive. And take time off when they’re not. Also, we build a tool that allows people to work together without friction in a mostly asynchronous way. We have that vision embedded in our company culture and naturally get as much done in an asynchronous fashion through Sendtask as possible.

Also, we are going to grow quite a bit in team size over the next few months and in anticipation of that, we want processes that scale well. Finding a 45’ minute spot once a week is considerably easier than finding several or much longer ones – especially as people work from many different time zones.

What happens on the weekly call?

Even more important than what happens on the call is what happens before the call. Until the evening before the call, everyone leaves their update on Slack. The update consists of three parts: What have I accomplished last week? What am I working on the coming week? What would I like to talk about?

Before the call, everyone has read everyone else’s update and there’s no need for us to update each other on what we’ve worked on and what we’re going to work on. The third question is important though and an integral part of what we do on the call.

1. The one-word open

We start the call with the ‘one word open’, a technique we borrowed from EO (Entrepreneur’s Organization). Instead of just asking everyone how they’re doing (their answer would usually be ‘good’ and not tell much), we each state the predominant feeling at that point. It could be ‘calm’, ‘tired’, ‘excited’ or any other feeling. We’ve found this to be very powerful as it allows to immediately connect with each other in very little time. If someone is not doing well, we clarify if it has anything to do with the team and/or if the team can help. Especially in a remote setup, it is important to be aware of everyone’s state of mind.

2. Talking points

We then go through the topics that people listed under ‘What would I like to talk about?’. These are typically things that need group consensus and are not easy to discuss via Slack – because they require demos or an extra level of creativity for example. The topics range from ‘I need feedback on the screen designs’ to ‘What do you guys think I should focus on between a, b and c?’.

3. User feedback

The third part of our call is someone presenting their learnings from onboarding a new user. Every week someone onboards a new user to Sendtask and interviews them about their three most positive and three most negative impressions in the process. It is paramount for us to provide a great user experience where our users immediately and intuitively understand what they can do with Sendtask and how. This is why a) we want everyone in the company to be confronted with that process on a regular basis and b) want everyone in the team to hear about what we do well and what we do poorly.

4. The weekly riddle

The fourth part is fun – it’s our weekly riddle. Similar to the feedback on the onboarding experience, we also have another person each week preparing a riddle for the group. We all love riddles and logical challenges and this part of the call is more of a reward and group fun activity. It’s something we all look forward to and preparing the riddle is as fun as solving it. We try to find tough riddles to really make the team think. This is not easy nowadays as we’ve gotten quite used to a lot of different types of riddles. Next week will be my turn and the solution to my riddle will be the destination of our next retreat – which we’ll fly out to the day after.

5. The one-word close

We end the call with the ‘one-word close’ which is very similar to the ‘one-word open’. We go around and everyone shares how they feel.


When we started Sendtask we did not think that 45-60 minutes per week would be enough time to update each other and discuss the topics that need to be discussed in a synchronous fashion. However, we quickly learned that we can boil down the topics that we discuss during the call to the most important ones and with good preparation, we can discuss all those, have some fun with our weekly riddle and still sometimes be done in no more than 45 minutes.

How often does your team meet and how long do your company-wide meetings typically take? Are there any important agenda items we forgot?

Four Reasons Why We Work Remotely


When we started Sendtask, we made a conscious decision not to have a traditional office. Our team is spread across 7 different countries. And we only speak to each other once a week – for no more than sixty minutes. These are the reasons why this setup resonated with us:

Focus on the important vs the urgent

Being in a distributed setup often allows us to work on the important things versus the urgent. In a traditional office setting, it’s easy for a colleague to come over, tap you on the shoulder and ask questions. In a distributed setup, it’s not as easy. Sometimes, this means that it will take you a bit longer to figure out something. But what we’ve seen is that over time, everyone becomes better at helping themselves, reading documentation and figuring stuff out on their own. And if a problem just seems too complicated, the colleague is never more than a phone call away.

Less distraction

It’s very easy to get distracted, especially in an open space office. You hear the sales people talk, there’s a meeting in the room next to you…the potential distractions are endless. This is the main reason why a lot of developers wear headphones in a traditional setup. They come to an office and virtually remove themselves from it by wearing headphones. This never made sense to me and our distributed setup has proven to be very low on noise. While we use Slack for all our communication, we don’t even require you to be online constantly. It’s ok to check Slack 2-3 times a day. If there’s something urgent, we’ll find a way to reach the team member (Whatsapp, Skype, Phone Call) but those emergencies are rare. Less noise has made us a lot more productive and allowed us to be in a flow state for extended periods.

Everyone can be productive on their own schedule

One thing that was challenging for me when I was a developer were office hours. One day I felt productive from 7 am early afternoon and the other day it was from 1 pm until late night. One thing was certain: It was very rarely 8am-5pm. Very often I was sitting in the office, trying to get work done but just couldn’t. And then I would go home and feel productive but was tired from already spending the day at the office.

In our distributed setup, we allow everyone to work on their own schedule. Not just the hours of the day, also the days of the week. If you don’t feel productive or have something more fun to do on a Tuesday – go do that. Feel productive and have a good idea for how to solve a certain problem on Saturday – why not solve it then and there?

We only have one synchronous meeting per week – every Wednesday at 2pm-3pm CET we update each other and check in on topics that should be discussed with the whole team.

When we do get together, it’s extra fun

All of that is not to say that working remotely doesn’t have its downsides. The biggest one being that you don’t get to spend a lot of face time with the people you work with. I’ve caught myself using the term ‘team crush’ lately and it adequately describes how I feel about this team. We assembled a pretty amazing team and I often wish I could just walk over and chat about life, alien movies and whiskey.

We deal with this by bringing everyone together four times a year for a week of fun and work. This is when we work on long time topics – our roadmap, vision, processes, and ideas. And we take a good part of the day off to have some fun together. On our last retreat, we went to Gran Canaria and went hiking, surfing and escape rooms. Next week we’re headed to our next retreat and we have another set of experiences planned. But that’s for another post.


We came up with the idea of setting up Sendtask as a remote company because we were frustrated with certain aspects of working together in a traditional office setup in past companies. Working in a distributed fashion helps us focus on the important vs. the urgent, reduce a lot of the noise that comes with a traditional setup and allows everyone on the team to work when they feel most productive. Still, we’re looking forward to seeing each other in real life and we bring everyone to the same location for a retreat four times a year where we make the most of the time together.

What’s your setup? Have you ever thought about going to a remote setup?

How We Get From 600 Applicants To One Top Hire In 11 Hours


One of the big benefits of running a completely virtual company is that our candidate pool is larger than that of a traditional company which is restricted to hiring people from one country or even one city.

But a much larger hiring pool forced us to re-think the hiring process. We stuck our heads together and came up with a process to go from hundreds of applicants to just a few final candidates in very little time.


When we start looking to fill a new position, we start by writing a detailed briefing for that role. The briefing has the following structure:

  • Description of the role and hourly commitment (E.g.: MEAN Stack Developer, 30hr+/week)
  • An intro including what we are building, where candidates can try our product, our vision, and mission
  • What’s important to us and how we work
  • General Responsibilities for this role
  • More fine-grained list of tasks for this role
  • What we offer (the way we work together, our retreats, …)
  • A high-level overview of our hiring process

This briefing is typically about two A4 pages long (about a thousand words) and takes 5-10 minutes to read.

You can find an example briefing here: MEAN Stack Developer Briefing
You can find our currently open positions here: Sendtask Jobs

We then publish the briefing on various channels – freelancer sites, social media, our network, job sites, etc.

Typically, until here I have invested about 30 minutes of my time to tailor the briefing to a new role.

The Tripwire – Going from 100% applicants to the best 15%

On a typical post, we get about 600 replies. Way too many to review by hand and filter the good from the bad. This is why we came up with “The Tripwire”.

The Tripwire is one small sentence that makes a huge difference. We place it somewhere in the above briefing. It reads like this:

“If you’re interested in this job, make sure to start your application with these exact words: “Hey Team Sendtask, I’m the MEAN Stack Superstar you’re looking for!””

This very simple detail allows us to immediately filter any applicants who have not carefully read the briefing and missed that detail.

Typically, only about 15% of all applicants get this right! This was a huge push for the efficiency of our hiring process as it allows us to spend zero time on the 85% of candidates that did not take the time to carefully read our briefing!

Typically, it takes the team about 15 minutes to filter out the candidates who did not get the first line right. In total, we have invested about 30 minutes of my time and 30 minutes of the team’s time.

The Questionnaire – Going from 15% to just 3%

80 Candidates are still too many to manually review and interview. This is why we added this next step. It gives us two things:

1) A lot of data about the candidate and much more depth than any CV
2) A good idea of how much the candidate wants the job

We send a Google Form questionnaire to the candidates who got past the first barrier. We split the questionnaire into four parts:

Part 1: General questions about the candidate’s name, their Skype ID, their location, etc.

Part 2: Assessing whether they will be a good fit for the company. We ask them about their favorite productivity tools (which is important as we build one), what they hope to get out of the role and also seemingly unrelated things like what they do for fun.

Part 3: We ask them for their first impression of Sendtask. We ask them to try our app and answer a few questions. This is extremely important as we want to understand if they are getting the point and if they have good inputs for how to improve our product.

Part 4: The fourth part is three technical problems in their area of expertise. For a MEAN stack developer, the questions will be about these technologies.

The questionnaire can take anywhere between two and four hours of their time to complete. Some people get frustrated and stop about halfway through.

Working in a completely virtual and distributed company can often be frustrating – there’s no one you can just walk over to and tap on the shoulder to ask for help. You need to have above-average persistence in order to be successful and happy in a distributed setup and that’s why we test our candidates here.

About a quarter of the candidates that we send the questionnaire to complete them within the deadline. Now we’re down to 3% of our original pool. Typically up and until this point, we have spent less than two hours between myself and the team to go from 100% of all applicants to the top 3%!

Here’s an example questionnaire.

The Review – Going from 3% to 1%

Because we use a Google Form for the questionnaire, all the answers end up in a spreadsheet. One member of our team goes through the first three parts of the questionnaire (General, Company Fit & Impression of Sendtask) and assesses the applicants’ communications skills. How good is their English? Are their answers complete? Are they able to give clear and concise answers?

Working in a distributed company requires everyone to be even better at communication than in a traditional setup. This is why we need everyone to adhere to high standards. Our team member goes through the answers and marks answers green (very good answer, +1 point), leaves them unformatted ( the answer is ok but not great, no point) or marks them red (answer doesn’t meet the benchmark, -1 point).

After this, we reorder the candidates based on their score from high to low. Now a technical team member reviews the answers in the fourth section, starting with the candidates that have the highest score so far. He assigns them either a ‘go’ or ‘no-go’. He stops once we have three candidates that scored high on the first three parts and passed the technical review.

We’re now down to the top 3 candidates, which is typically the top 0.5% to 1% of all applications we have received. So far, we have typically invested about 30 mins of my time and about two hours of the team’s time.

Test Task – Finding our Favorite

At this point, we prepare a test task that takes between eight and twelve hours to complete. The applicant is paid for those hours if hired. The goal of this task is to see how much a candidate can get done within that time frame and also understand his thinking process. How does he split up larger tasks into smaller tasks? How does he react if he runs into a roadblock? Does he do any of the bonus tasks?

One of our engineers prepares a two to four-page document that contains the specifications for the test task. There are several main objectives as well as bonus tasks.

We start with our favorite candidate and have a one-hour phone call with them. Typically, it’s me and one of our engineers on the call. The call’s purpose is to get to know each other, clarify any questions that either party may have and introduce the test task. Then, we agree on a deadline for when the test task will be handed in. We track the test task progress in a Sendtask project where the engineer and I are added so that we can see how the candidate breaks down the test task into smaller tasks.

We schedule another two-hour call for the day after the candidate hands in his solution. On this call, we dive into how they approached the problem, what they found difficult and what was easy. If all goes well, we then schedule interviews where every team member gets to speak to the potential new team member. If everyone likes the new candidate, he gets hired.

When we’re not satisfied with the results of the test task or if any of our existing team members vetoes, we move on to our 2nd and 3rd choice.

If we go with our first candidate, we typically spend about three hours of my time and about eight hours of the team’s time.


Realizing that we will hopefully get to hire much more people into the Sendtask team, we took some time to think about how we can optimize this process to be respectful of both the applicant’s and our own time. So far, this process has proven to be very efficient and led to great hires.

What does your hiring process look like?