How Annie’s Weaves Its Publishing Web for Crafters

From its start as a small, mail-order needlecraft company, Annie’s has grown into a craft media empire. Based in Berne, Indiana, the family-owned business produces magazines, catalogs, kits, books, newsletters, and even its own TV show, PBS’s Knit and Crochet Now!


Annie’s web development team handles everything web-related for the company’s wide range of products, which means constant content updates, new sites, and creative projects such as online classes with experts who teach everything from Bavarian crochet and quilting to jewelry-making and knitting magic socks.

Since the web department’s formation in 1998, it’s had to adapt right along with the web revolutions of publishing and retail. Project manager Michelle Lawrence describes the team’s busy role in the transformation that’s had to take place at Annie’s to keep up with the times and the business’s exponential growth: “In addition to performing our technical support duties, we also help guide others when dealing with anything that goes on the internet. It’s not necessarily a part of everyone’s background and explaining what we need and what we do in order for things to run smoothly is not always factored into the time we allot for various tasks!”

With so many parts involved in producing the various media channels, Annie’s web dev team has to make sure those parts keep moving. Michelle notes, “The most challenging thing about all those moving parts is communication, to make sure everyone relevant to a conversation is in the loop.”

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How Love With Food Found its Working Rhythm

Love With Food is a subscription service that delivers a specially curated box of organic and all-natural snacks every month. For every box that’s sent, the company donates a meal to feed a hungry child.


Founder Aihui Ong embarked on Love With Food after seeing a friend forced to shutter her stir-fry sauce business because she was unable to secure wider distribution. Aihui (pronounced “I-we”) not only saw the need for alternative channels of distribution and marketing connecting food entrepreneurs to consumers but also an opportunity to help the one in five children in America at risk of hunger.

From a company of one in late 2011, Love With Food has grown to twelve employees. While growing any startup is challenging, Aihui notes that LWF’s mission helps her hire:  “In the last eighteen months, we’ve donated more than 100,000 meals, and that also draws the right talent to our company. People who want to join us really value that we’re giving back and doing something innovative to disrupt the food industry.”

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How WooThemes Makes Distributed Team Culture Succeed

The multi-million dollar company WooThemes started with a single email, as a small side project of Magnus Jepson in Stavanger, Norway, Adii Pienaar in Cape Town and Mark Forrester, then in London.

WooThemes logo

From that one email sprouted a bootstrapped company that produces a rich catalog of WordPress themes and plugins, serving 450,000 users. And this impressive success emerges from a distributed team of only thirty people, spanning seven countries.

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How Buffer Works Smarter, Not Harder

Buffer stands out among startups not just for its success in building a great social media sharing tool but in fashioning a company culture focused on making work fulfilling, impactful, and enjoyable. What’s fascinating is that they do this as a completely distributed team, spread across multiple countries and time-zones.

buffer logo

Treat People in the Best Way

Co-founders Joel Gasciogne and Leo Widrich set the foundation for Buffer’s culture according to the tenets of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Carolyn Kopprasch, Buffer’s Chief Happiness Officer translates what that means for Buffer’s modus operandi: “We want to treat people in the absolute best way we can, and that includes co-workers, vendors, and customers.”

It also includes how the Buffer employees treat themselves. With a unique self-improvement program, they share their progress on anything from time management to healthy eating with their teammates, spurring conversations about different lifehacks and routines. Michelle Sun, Buffer’s growth and analytics expert, tracks fitness routines and getting up early while Leo has been making strides with learning how to code.

carolyn and michelle from buffer

Co-workers become a collective accountability partner for future plans like blogging or exercising, and more importantly, they become an incredible support system. Instead of looking askance when you’re doing work to do something to take care of yourself, you receive encouragement. “If you’re trying to work on your health or your fitness or your happiness level, that affects work a lot too,” Carolyn explains.

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Tim Cigelske, on How to Keep Track of Interns and Think Bigger

As the director of social media at Marquette University, beer expert, running coach, writer, husband and father, Tim Cigelske inhabits many roles, and he’s accordingly found multiple uses for iDoneThis in his personal and professional lives. While he recently started using iDoneThis with his summer interns, Tim has been a member for over a year, with a personal account for his freelance work and a team account with his wife, Jess.

Tim Cigelske

Along with Google Calendar, the couple uses iDoneThis to keep track of their household, their three-year-old daughter and her dance classes, and what’s going on in their lives. “There’s a lot going on outside of work so this helps keep tabs,” Tim says. And for his freelancing, he uses iDoneThis as a handy reminder system, recording published links, and using his iDoneThis emails to prompt him the next day or next week to promote his work on social media.

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How Pipedrive Designed a Company Habit Hack

While it’s tough enough to get into good personal habits, how do you get your employees to adopt good company habits?

Changing your behavior starts with an intention, and when you’re herding multiple human intentions, that transformation process can become tricky.

Pipedrive, a startup that makes a simple CRM that people actually like to use, is one of our oldest team customers. As the company grew rapidly, from six to twenty people within a year, overall iDoneThis usage flagged because new people weren’t getting on board. Pipedrive found a way to turn that behavior around, hacking the iDoneThis company habit with great success.

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How ScribbleLive Powers the Moment with Liveblogging

ScribbleLive is bringing media companies and brands up to speed with software that allows them to publish, curate, and syndicate content in real-time.

ScribbleLive logo

Recently, ScribbleLive powered Boston.com’s liveblog coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and even served as their homepage when the traffic surge caused Boston.com to go down. By providing tools for journalists and media companies to adapt to this era of always-on social media, ScribbleLive helps fill in context and provide reliable reporting of breaking news.

We talked with Matt McCausland, software development manager at Scribblelive, about how the Toronto-based company manages and communicates with each other.

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How Luc Levesque Leads TravelPod & TripAdvisor to Focus on Being the Best

Transparent communication is a theme running through Luc Levesque’s career, from his 1997 founding of Travelpod, the first travel blogging website where people could share their adventures, to his current practice of handing new employees a boss blueprint.  Luc is currently a General Manager at TripAdvisor, responsible for its global SEO efforts and TravelPod’s business unit. We talked with Luc about how he communicates with his team and how frequent feedback is vital to great performance.


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How C2I Intel Overcomes the Knowledge Gap to Deliver the Lowdown

Knowledge is power, and when you’re an entrepreneur and running a small business, it’s a challenge to get sufficient people-power to catch all the relevant information and news out there. We talked with Michelle Frome, president of C2I Intel, which solves that problem by delivering that knowledge directly, providing competitor and industry intelligence to help companies gain a leg up.


Michelle’s path to providing the business scoop was indirect. Brought on by a company to help build an electronic medical record product, she found that she needed a way to keep track of confusing and evolving regulations, as well as keep up with competitors. She worked with programmers in Vietnam to create the technology that would automate much of that work. With the medical records project up in the air, Michelle and her team decided to focus on developing the software for business intelligence instead, bringing in review teams to help target, tailor, and finetune the research.

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How Ravelry Stitches its Creative Community Together

Ravelry is a website for knitters, crocheters, spinners, and other people into fibers, with close to 2.7 million users, or “Ravellers”, around the world. The site houses a rich database of patterns and reference information, ways to keep track of projects and stock of your yarns, and a forum for its Ravellers to interact.

Ravelry logo

In fact, Ravelry has been called “the best social network you’ve (probably) never heard of”. In talking with Mary-Heather Cogar, VP of Operations/Do-Gooder, that sense of close-knit community shines through, distinguishing Ravelry as an example of what can be so great about the internet.

There’s something really amazing about connecting with people that are into the same things that you are. A lot of Ravellers have struck up friendships, sometimes in totally different countries, or met people in their own communities that they didn’t know were out there. They were used to knitting in front of Netflix or whatever — we all love to do that but sometimes you feel like you’re the only one passionate about this in your neighborhood. It turns out that there’s a group of people that are super into crocheting also, or new spinners and they’re all learning together.”

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