The Serendipity Machine
    August 11, 2015 | Jeff Weinstein

    We enjoy wonderful little surprises every day at Wagon: serendipitous run-ins, small-world moments, and hilarious coincidences. Whether it’s the cadre of visitors we host for lunch, the tipsy bar patron who is secretly a SQL analyst, or the friend-of-a-friend lurking within our teammate’s apartment asking: “Do you work at that Haskell data startup?” - we’re amazed by where our fellow thinkers are hiding. The real secret is that these things, which might appear random, happen for a reason: we constantly seek to talk with people and bring them together. Serendipity doesn’t happen; we make it.

    Secret Worlds by xkcd. Secret Worlds by xkcd

    We’re fortunate to have a wide network of people: users, open-source contributors, recruits, neighbors, partners, friends of friends, out-of-town visitors, investors, etc… It’s invigorating to hear stories from these different groups; their experiences motivate us and give context to the problems we’re solving. We talk with hundreds of people each day through Intercom chat, our public #bandwagon Slack channel, and on Twitter.

    A happy surprise about early-stage startups is that you’ll meet more people than at a large company. Your network isn’t just your immediate team and your chain of managers, it’s anyone, anywhere.

    We create the space for serendipitous encounters through tech meetups, our #bandwagon happy hours, open invites to lunch, our high touch user communication, and Wagon’s faux-EIR program. Hosting events at our space in San Francisco is a great way to bring people together. Almost every week, we have 40+ people at our space for an after-work event. To make sure things go smoothly, events even have their own checklists: “In Event of Meetup” and “In Case of Party”. We maintain a mini-CRM so we can throw impromptu events in other cities - we had a lot of fun hosting a happy hour in New York with Wildcard. We have an open space facing Valencia Street with views of Sutro Tower. Our Wagon office is configured for flexibility rather than posh — we hope you’ll find it welcoming.

    Upcoming Wagon Events

    Bay Area Haskell Meetup - Wed, Aug 12 at 6pm

    Join us for three half-hour Haskell talks about distributed code, graphs, and more. Matt DeLand (Wagon), Tikhon Jelvis (Esper), and John Chee (Twitter) will be speaking at our next Haskell event.

    Wharton Customer Analytics Meetup - Tue, Aug 18 at 6:30pm

    With two Penn grads on the team, we’re excited to host the next Bay Area Wharton and Penn analytics event! There will be a few 5 minute “lightning talks” from alumni working on applications of customer analytics.

    Electron Meetup - Tue, Aug 25 at 6pm

    Learn from Kevin Sawicki (GitHub), Paul Betts (Slack), Mike Craig (Wagon), and Ben Gotow (Nylas) about how to make polished apps across Mac, Windows, and Linux using the open source project Electron (formerly Atom-Shell). We’ll have four 20-minute tech talks. Come celebrate the community’s first official meetup in San Francisco! There will be pizza.

    #bandwagon Happy Hour - Wed, Sept 2 at 6pm

    Come to our monthly happy hour at our office in San Francisco. It’s a great way to meet other data folks and friends of Wagon. It’s very relaxed so feel free to just pop in between 6 - 9pm, Wed Sept 2nd.

    Joe Nelson's fireside chat at the recent Haskell meetup at Wagon.
    Wagon hosts monthly happy hours for our users and friends.

    Joe Nelson’s fireside Wagon Haskell chat and a recent #bandwagon happy hour at our office in San Francisco.

    Thanks to Mission Bicycle Company (our neighbors), Mom & Daughters Chair and Table Rentals (just-in-time chair rental), and Instacart (official Tecate supplier) for making these events possible.

    We hope to see you soon! If you’d like to be our next Wagon faux-EIR or want to stop by to say hi, just email us at hello@wagonhq.com or give us a tweet at @WagonHQ.

    May 23, 2015 | Jeff Weinstein

    Delighting our users drives the Wagon product and motivates our team. We see startups as a community of people coming together around a goal: ours is to make data analysis easier for everyone. Building something great is the collective work of our team, along with our users, friends, family, open-source contributors, advisors, and investors. Sharing the journey is such a positive force for us and it also happens to be a really fun way to run a company.

    We want people to adore Wagon. Iterating on feedback and shipping frequently is our tact to building the best product (see our design post). While people tend to inherently enjoy giving their opinion, we know detailing constructive criticism and bug reports can be a burden on our users especially when the product is changing quickly. We focus on a few ways to encourage our community to come together: be welcoming, actively listen, communicate directly, encourage others, and have fun.

    #bandwagon Slack channel

    Our main community space is a shared Slack channel: appropriately named #bandwagon. We have 50+ people along with our whole team. It’s a safe place to ask questions about data, engineering, analytics, SQL, and give feedback on Wagon. The tone is helpful, collaborative, and positive. We like to make a custom emoji for each new bandwagoner when they sign up!

    The conversation is often led by others and many people contribute to answering questions— it’s really fabulous. One early user described it as: “#bandwagon is an awesome Slack channel for Wagon users that makes the app feel bespoke; some of my feedback has been implemented!” We’ve even hired someone from within #bandwagon (welcome @agrano!).

    It’s hard work to be active and available for our growing userbase but it’s worth the energy. Here’s a look at our team’s Slack activity over time…

    Wagon's #bandwagon stats Wagon's Slack messages history.

    We love to interact with people on Twitter and Instagram , host monthly happy hours at our office in San Francisco, and welcome anyone to hang out for a day (we have both coffee and internet). We have t-shirts for bandwagoners and enjoy sending handwritten cards. On the silly side, kids love our adorable stickers! And while we don’t encourage vandalism, it’s fun to see that someone tagged our favorite watering hole.

    Wagon's Launch Happy Hour
    Wagon's Cinco de Mayo Happy Hour
    Wagon's First Happy Hour

    Wagon’s monthly happy hours!

    Without our community, we’d be just a small team with a long list of TODOs. But together, we feel like a group marching toward a common goal.

    Want to hop on? Send us an email or tweet at @WagonHQ.