How Crafters Helped Intuit Create a Cool Mobile App

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“We wanted to build something that really helped microbusinesses get organized,” explains Intuit engineer Brian Tran, “something that would weave together all aspects of their business in one easy app.”

It was a tall order for a team no bigger than The Three Musketeers — two developers, one designer — that set out to talk to crafters across the country about how they do business. “We thought, ‘Hey, we’ve gathered these insights, let’s release something, let users find it, and improve it based on their feedback,’” Tran says.

The result is Weave, a free iPhone app that makes it easy for crafters to create to-do lists, assign and share tasks, organize projects, and keep track of income and expenses with just a few taps. Launched last summer, Weave now has some 200,000 users, who are encouraged to share their likes and dislikes on the app’s Facebook page.

The Intuit Small Business Blog recently discussed the project with Tran outside of a Whole Foods Market in San Francisco, where he was waiting to interview a vintage clothing reseller about her experience with Weave.

ISBB: What have you learned about the crafters you’ve interviewed?

Tran: That they have a real entrepreneurial spirit. They have a small business, but they don’t stop there: They also have three or four other things they are extremely passionate about. We met a woman who sells her crochet jewelry on Etsy and also teaches yoga and educates others about how to run their craft businesses. She uses Weave to “bucket” all these activities into projects and manage them on her phone.

Do crafters think of themselves as microbusinesses?

A lot of them simply think of themselves as hobbyists. They make and sell their art. They’re not especially interested in accounting or taxes. They simply want to know: Am I making money? Because they are one - or two-person businesses, they rely on friends and family to help them get things done.

How are crafters using Weave?

We talked to the Cookie Pedalers, a two-person company that delivers freshly baked cookies by bike in Portland, Ore. The owners spend most of their time baking, so if they run out of flour, for example, they use their Weave network to ask if someone can go buy flour right away. They assign a task; that person makes the purchase, then enters the expense in Weave, so it’s all recorded as part of the project.

Why was adding income and expense tracking important?

Many crafters go to crafts shows and have to pay registration fees, plus travel, food, and hotel expenses. Weave gives them an easy way to enter their expenses, track how much they sell, and know right away whether it’s worth going to that show next year. Another woman who buys and resells old furniture uses the app to show her father that she has a viable business because she’s earning more than she’s spending.

Are crafters your primary audience?

Our focus has been on craft businesses, but we’re getting a lot of feedback from students who are using it to organize their homework and classes. Then there’s the mom category. One mom is using Weave to track her personal stuff, run a group about raising kids, and plan a trip for 100 to visit an American Girl doll factory.

How do you market Weave?

We didn’t have a marketing plan for the launch. We just wanted to grab 100 users and learn from them. But the iTunes App Store featured it on its home page twice — which was totally unexpected — and we were getting 3,000 to 4,000 signups a day from around the world. People wanted it in different languages and currencies. We just released an update that supports any currency on the iPhone.

How do you use Weave?

We use it to manage the Weave project. We each have different functions — engineering, marketing, customer support. Weave helps us share information about what we want to do, plan it out, and manage the project across the team.

What’s on the team’s to-do list?

In the short term, we want to improve sharing so that people can share entire projects with others. In the latest update, you can email the status of your projects. And we want to continue to track behavior. We try to meet at least one of our customers each week. It’s talking face-to-face that gives us a deep understanding of our users and really helps bring out what’s special about Weave.

Kristin Ewald, a former Time Inc. editor based in California, has written frequently for the SMB audience. She is also a small business owner who helps companies write and produce user-friendly websites. View all posts by Kristin Ewald This entry was posted in Intuit Products, Leadership Profiles, Technology, Trends. Bookmark the permalink.
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