Interview – Andrew Filev of Wrike

With new ways to communicate over the internet burgeoning and spam accounting for nearly 90% of all the messages in our inboxes, email all of a sudden seems like a killer …

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6th March 2008 at 4:42 pm

With new ways to communicate over the internet burgeoning and spam accounting for nearly 90% of all the messages in our inboxes, email all of a sudden seems like a killer headache rather than a ‘killer app’.  And yet …

andrew_filev It’s still how the vast majority of businesses communicate online on a day-to-day basis.  It’s perhaps for this reason, that Andrew Filev, co-founder of Wrike, and his team have built email into the heart of their hosted web-based project management tool.

Indeed Andrew drew on his own experiences to identify the advantages of an online project management tool.  As he says:

Because traditional project management software was not designed to be collaborative, a project manager in teams rapidly became a bottleneck for mundane admin tasks.  We wanted to change this, but using tools like email that everybody was familiar with.

As a young developer from St Petersburg who studied software engineering, Andrew set up a small software development house on leaving college.  It rapidly grew to a staff of over 100 with satellite offices in several countries. 

The challenges of rapid growth, managing a lot of people at distance and thousands of projects soon began to put a strain on some of the traditional project management tools available.  According to Andrew none quite seemed to do the job just right.

A few years later in 2005, the memory of that experience prompted Andrew to bootstrap Wrike with money from his first startup.  He put together a small team which now numbers 12 with additional support from freelance developers.

I started out as a developer, but became an entrepreneur.  I wanted to build a tool that would help me and help other fast growth startups too, he says.

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Wrike makes it easy to create, assign and monitor tasks, building projects rapidly and organically, via email.  Including a wrike.com email address in a project email automatically assigns it to your project online.  Every time a task is updated, all those subscribed to that email task will be notified.  This overview can be as 30,000 feet or as granular as you like.  Gantt charts/timelines are also created on the fly.

This works well, although I still feel that as projects evolve careful management of notifications will be required.  There’s a danger that certain individuals with an eye on several projects could become overwhelmed by email to add to the already overwhelming inbox.  Email notification is helpful, as long as it’s opened.  RSS might prove more efficient in the longer term.

I also talked to Andrew about pricing and competition.  He was full of praise for Basecamp one of the pioneers of hosted project management.  He believes Basecamp and Wrike take slightly different approaches and ultimately the choice will be down to personal preference.

Pricing of Wrike per user is $3.99 a month – at the lower end of the scale for similar services.  The company has no team of enterprise sales execs – one of the reasons, they claim, that they’ve been able to keep the price of the software down.  Word-of-mouth and PR appears to be the main thrust of their marketing strategy. 

It’ll be interesting to see whether this sales model is sustainable.  Andrew was a little coy about total numbers of customers at this stage, but the figure is in the thousands and well on the way to an important milestone to be announced, perhaps later this year.

Wrike like many a good business idea is a simple solution to a potentially complex problem.  It’s lead by one of those rare things – a developer turned successful entrepreneur.  This ought to be a winning combination and I look forward to keeping an eye on the Wrike story.

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Alex is the founder and editor of SmallBizPod, the UK's first podcast dedicated to small business, start-ups and entrepreneurship. Alex writes about topical small business issues, entrepreneurs and anything else that catches his eye here on the small business blog. http://www.smallbizpod.co.uk

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  1. Chris Rupert says:

    It’s great to read an interview with the founder of the tool, that I’ve been using for almost a year now. Here’s a users comment – Wrike is very elegant and powerful for managing your entire business. It help you get the whole picture of what is going on in your company. By the way, thay have some cool post on some management methods like getting things done or 7 habits.

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