Ms. Stillman interviews a couple of young moguls who marry old school business techniques with hyper-current tools. The results: hand crafted shirts and artisanal preserves backed with tech that would make Captain Kirk jealous.
These artisan producers make their goods one stitch and one simple-syrup at a time. They kick the process into 4G speeds on the back end, retail stores on-line, cloud-based accounting, and social media, all employed to track, streamline, and augment the sales process.
Our little burg of Nashville has several fantastic examples of this artisanal-techie trend. Otis James, our favorite tie maker, built his reputation on fine craftsmanship and solid design, but the business (the sales and marketing, accounting, etc) is powered by tech.
Our friends Matt and Carrie over at Imogene and Willie build what are quite possibly the best damn denim jeans on earth in a tiny cut and sew shop on 12th Avenue South, right here in our neighborhood. Their website and blog harks back to an era of storytelling and nostalgia, but they track every interaction, every click, every order.
Mike Maher, one of the rock-star entrepreneurs Ms. Stillman interviews, tells the story of L. L. Bean, who, ”…was sending a letter to everybody who registered for Maine Hunting Licenses…” when he was starting his new clothing company. Technology makes that process so much easier. Sure, it’s good to hand write notes to clients, but having the client list available at the strike of a key...
Here at [FIND] Investigations, we often make the comparison between our work and that of a bespoke tailor. Ours is a boutique business. We approach our work in much the same way as these entrepreneurial artisans. From our method of investigation to our reporting, we combine old-school tradecraft with current tech.
When a client comes to [FIND] Investigations they know they’re not buying “just the facts.” They’re buying a package. They’re buying detailed research, in-person interviews, on-site courthouse searches, all performed by seasoned and experienced operatives. They’re buying a finished report that imparts a narrative. They’re paying for detail and depth.
From the custom stamped letterhead on 24lb bond linen paper, to the old-school date stamp on the cover-page of each report, every interaction imparts a since of quality. But behind every vestige of old school appearance, there lies a deep well of technology.
Some of Our Tech – Tools we use to stay on top
Mac – [FIND] Investigations is driven by Mac. Our on-site secure server is a Mac. Our laptops, desktops, and portable devices are all Mac. Our investigators all use iPads and iPhones in the field.
Square – [FIND] Investigations started using Square about a year ago. Prior to that our clients had two options for payment, cash or check. Now we just swipe that card and get to work.
Dropbox – [FIND] Investigations uses Dropbox to transfer files from office to iPad. Our investigators upload field notes and photos, the home office downloads them. We pay extra for secure service, but the Dropbox app is fantastic.
Harvest – [Find] Investigations uses Harvest to keep track of time and expenses. Each investigator has a unique pass code and can log in and start a time clock from anywhere using their iPhone. When it comes time to invoice, Harvest has all of the hours, mileage, expenses, etc. ready to go. It also feeds directly into QuickBooks come tax time.
Squarespace – We host our website here. Squarespace allows us to update from the road (via iPhone or iPad), keep track of Internet traffic, and customize our website with ease.
Social Media – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – all available, all the time.
Cameras – We have acquired bunch of goodies over the past couple of years. We regularly deploy the most advanced hidden cameras, wall chargers, iPod docks, etc.
In the field, we abuse our workhorse Sony HD handycams on a daily basis. The latest hidden camera trick is to just keep it simple and use the iPhone. Click it to silent mode, turn on the video camera, and hold it to your ear like you're talking. Works every time.
Communication – We use our iPhones extensively while in the field, but sometimes you need to cut down on the conversation and get down to business. We always carry radios as part of our kit. They’re professional grade Motorola radios that work on an itinerant frequency. They’re secure precisely because they are so simple.
It’s true, there is a wealth of technology that makes our work easier, but in the end, it’s the hard work, tradecraft, and attention to detail that makes the case. As with the tech-savvy entrepreneurs mentioned in the inc.com story, our tech, while fun and definitely cool, is simply a tool.