Tales from Fleep: Our Spring Retreat

“How do you feel about walking in the wilderness, Kaisa?” asked Henn casually one morning from me. “Ugh, I’m not really a camper-type” was all that I had as an answer. Turns out that I’m in the minority that isn’t that fascinated about hiking in this group of merry Fleepers that celebrated their initial launch with a hike in Lapland last year.


The founding team – Liis, Erik, Andres, Marko, Asko and Henn – enjoying a break in Lapland

Great startup teams spend time together, lots and lots of it. Since our team is distributed across two cities it’s quite an exception to have people physically in one place doing something together. So, no surprise, a few weeks back we celebrated our first Spring Retreat hiking in the woods finding treasures using GPS devices. It was a nice gesture from Henn to consider me not being overly enthusiastic about running around aimlessly in the woods and to incorporate a more interesting goal into this whole get-together.

It all started early morning with a muddy ride to Leppoja Puhkekeskus, a wonderful getaway place in the middle of a forest. Fresh air, lovely weather and the best team of 12 coming together. What could possibly go wrong?

Turns out, quite a lot – some of us were late, some of got lost on the way, some of us forgot the right clothing, but in the end everything got a solution. Henn, our experiences camper, had made sure everyone has the right boots and clothing to enjoy an afternoon wondering around in the wilderness. After all, we had ordered the perfect type of weather: raining cats and dogs.

Fleep team at the team retreat in Leppoja

Half of the dirty dozen, preparing for the hike.

“You work hard, you play hard!” should be the motto of every startup team. That said, regardless of the weather, we formed into teams and started with the hunt. We got lovely GPS-devices into our hands that had a constant 20-30 meter fail. No maps, just coordinates and random dots on an empty screen. If you think finding white paper plates in the forest is an easy task with a device that constantly lies to you, you’re wrong. It took us approximately 2.5 hours to find 16 points in the woods, countless miscalculations but in return we got a lot of fresh air and moments that can’t be forgotten. I’m sure that Andres, our web guru, will never forget this trip. He now has an icy wet reminder about it recorded on tape.

The way I think about it, this trip was quite an awesome teamwork exercise. As they say, when you want to know if how you get along with people, you should go traveling with them. Their “best” nature comes out in stress situations. That’s why I chose my team carefully! Marko and Kristjan, our two backend guys were perfect companions for this adventure in the woods. They didn’t even mind me occasionally whining about the rain or tweeting to the rest of the world what we were currently up to. I’d go hunting with them anytime whatever the circumstances.

Fleep team retreat, the winning team

First to the finish! Plenty of time for a winner-selfie :P

It’s no surprise that we found all our points, had a lot of fun and ended up stuck under a tree hiding from rain, waiting for others way ahead of time… only to find out that some of our teammates had already decided to go chill in the sauna and let the eager beavers take the lead.

Anywhoo, heated discussions lasted until late night, the sauna was great and to prove that we had a lot of fun, here’s a quick video summary. Hope you enjoy watching our little roadtrip to the woods as much as we did being part of the adventure!


What do you think we should do next time? What has your team done in the past to encourage teamwork? Leave a comment or let us know via Twitter or Facebook, and of course, feel free to share the video! ;)

Fleep User Stories: Lingvist

Fleep User Stories is a new series of blogposts that tracks the lives and experiences of the teams and startups that use Fleep in their daily business.

This time I talked with Ave Habakuk the community manager at Lingvist. Earlier this year she and their team launched their French beta-program and in addition raised a €1 million round of funding. The investment came from SmartCap (the investment arm of the taxpayer-funded Estonian Development Fund), Nordic VC Inventure, and several angel investors from Estonia and elsewhere.

Lingvist, Fleep user storiesWhat is Lingvist?

Website: http://lingvist.io/
Facebook: TheLingvist
Twitter: @TheLingvist

Lingvist is a smart language learning software that aims to significantly reduce the time needed in language learning. We do this by tailoring the learning process to every individual user in real time, to best suit their knowledge and skills. The technology of Lingvist combines mathematical methods from nuclear physics (CERN) with contemporary language science and is developed by the people who created Skype. Although all this sounds incredibly complicated, learning with Lingvist is actually rather simple. The program is currently in private beta.

The company was founded just over a year ago by Mait Müntel, Ott Jalakas and Andres Koern. The company’s inception came about after Müntel, who has a background in physics and had been working at CERN for several years, became interested in learning French and couldn’t find a fast enough way to do so.

Lingvist team, Fleep user storiesHow many people in the team?

Altogether there is 8 of us here at Lingvist and incredibly enough, we are spread out across 4 locations – Tallinn, Tartu, Stockholm and London. Having everyone on the same page and sharing information is essential for quick progress of a startup. I suppose one could say that Fleep is something like our water cooler, where we all meet daily and where all the important conversations happen.

How did you find out about Fleep?

Jaan Tallinn, an investor we share with Fleep, suggested we take up using it since according to him, it is the best communication app for building a startup.

How are you using Fleep?

We mostly use Fleep for conversations that are centered around particular topics or projects, some of the most recent include setting up new metrics or hiring an UX designer. It is really great that not all the participants have to be online for the conversation, which is something that happens often with people working in different time zones. It is easy to back track and see what was discussed while you were away and still have access to the files that were set up, such as screenshots of CVs. Most of the Fleep chats are between our team members, but we also occasionally include people from outside of the team, as it is more convenient to have a multiparty conversation on Fleep than on e-mail.

Lingvist team comment, Ave Habakuk, Fleep user storiesAny Fleep tips, tricks or habits that you’d like to share?

We have come to use Fleep for quick access to some frequently needed information. For instance the UK phone numbers of team members temporarily in London are pinned to the sidebar of our TechStars conversation and some frequently needed access URLs are pinned to the development chat. No need to go through e-mails or bug your colleague several times – the information is just there, highlighted next to the relevant topic.

So much about Lingvist, one of our cool startup Fleep users! I have personally already signed up for the beta of Lingvist and am using it to learn French! Let’s see how good I’ll become in this, what I can say right now is that it’s working for me “tres bien!”.

But this is not the only story from our users we have, if you’d like to get more stories like this in the future as well, feel free to follow us on Twitter (#fleepstories) or Facebook and check out the rest of the stories as well.

Fleep User Story: Funderbeam

Fleep User Stories is a series of blogposts that showcases all the cool people, teams and companies that use Fleep in their daily business.

This time we had a talk with Villu Arak, the Marketing & Communications guy from Funderbeam, who explains how Fleep for their startup is habit-forming, reveals why Pinboards and File Drawer features are in major use and how Fleep provides shelter to tired little files that need a decent place to stay.

What is Funderbeam?

funderbeamWebsite: http://funderbeam.com/
Facebook: Funderbeam
Twitter: @funderbeam



Funderbeam plans to bring data-driven transparency to startup investing. There is a massive transparency gap between publicly-listed companies and young startups. This keeps some people from even considering an investment in early-stage companies. We’re working to narrow that gap. This blog post gives you an idea how it could be done.

Of course, it won’t happen overnight. We’ll launch the first step in June by making startup data easy to find, track, and compare. Investor search, analytics, and market intelligence will follow later. But the end goal is to evolve into a global trading platform for startup securities.

How many people in the team?

About a dozen, it’s a 50/50 mix of employees and those who still have other day jobs. Since there is hardly ever a moment when we’re all in the same room together, a sense of shared space is crucial. Fleep helps give that space a shape.

How did you find out about Fleep?

Henn (CEO of Fleep) approached me in March 2013 to help hone Fleep’s tone of voice and write copy for its website. Seeing the product and Henn’s ambition up close this early was crucial in carving out a special F-shaped place in my heart. An opportunity to evangelize came a few months later when Funderbeam’s early team gathered around the kitchen table of its founder and CEO Kaidi Ruusalepp.

I don’t think we ever used Skype for anything other than voice calls in the team, the consensus to try Fleep as our chat platform came quickly. Skype still hadn’t solved its sync problems across devices, so Fleep swooped in and snatched us.

Funderbeam comment on Fleep

How are you using Fleep?

People are creatures of habit. There are some email traditionalists who’ve been wary about adding “yet another” comms channel to their devices. So sometimes conversations fall out of the Fleep bucket and clog up the inbox. Sure, conversations that start in Fleep can elegantly manage non-Fleep users through email. But when a conversation starts out as an email with several folks on the cc: line, I can’t channel it into Fleep yet. Now THAT would be a nice new feature.

The majority of our public chat traffic flows in a Fleep conversation we call Funderchat. It’s for links, jokes and general monkey noises — things that help maintain a sense of belonging and shared culture.

Then there are more task- or role-specific chatrooms that have a more productive purpose. “Business and marketing” is a tight four-member group, “Biz dev” is another in-house chatroom, while “Front development” also involves our external development partners. There are plenty more. These chats see quite a bit of action on the Pinboard and File Drawer.

Finally, there are one-to-one chats where a lot of microscopically practical stuff happens. Probably a bit of venting and winking, too.

Any Fleep tips, tricks or habits that you’d like to share?

It’s habit-forming. This spring, Fleep smartly exploded itself and splattered its apps across OSX, Windows, Android, and iOS. Plus the initial browser version to cover any remaining platform gaps. As a result, Fleep conversations now follow me everywhere. Like a stalker I never had.

The main trick with Fleep? Use its basic, simple features. Fleep’s Pinboard is a life-saver, as is File Drawer. Since our teams use a range of platforms, from Dropbox to Google Drive to Trello to Kanban to email, I sometimes just pin or upload stuff to Fleep. This way, I know its address. It feels good, too, like offering clean shelter to a tired little file that’s been living in motels and halfway houses and just needs a decent place to stay. Yes, it’s simultaneously noble, sad and utterly ridiculous.

This is it for this time, if you’d like to get more stories like this in the future as well, feel free to follow us on Twitter or Facebook. We always share the newest content in there!

What’s your Fleep story?

Fleep blog, what's your Fleep story?A team of lawyers that uses Fleep to send messages between themselves, a delivery business that uses Fleep for logistics, a startup changing the way people learn languages and the girl whose nickname is Fleep

These are just a few of the Fleep stories which are waiting to be shared with the community. Each and every user has a Fleep story to tell, be it then how they heard about Fleep, how they’re using Fleep or how Fleep helps them change the world.

So we’ve set ourselves a mission! Today we start with a new series of blogposts that are dedicated to sharing the stories and experiences of different people, teams, startups and businesses that discovered Fleep and gave it a home in their everyday life.

What’s your story and would you be willing to share it with us and other Fleep users? Let us know via Twitter or Facebook and we’ll get in touch! Don’t forget to use the #fleepstories tag!

Stories that have already been published

* Meet Fleep, our namesake in the real world
* Funderbeam – brings data-driven transparency to startup investing
* Lingvist – making waves in the language learning business
* ParallelDots - creating interactive, intuitive and easy-to-navigate timeline interfaces
* Liisa from Toggl – an online timetracking tool for freelancers, consultants and small businesses
* Kei from GoWorkaBit – a web application that helps you find short-term jobs more easily
* Lizelle from Effectively and Women Who Startup – a startup entrepreneur
* Karmen Reinpõld – a triathlon and cycling coach
* Sander, Gerli, Krister and Agur – a panel of 4 early adopters speak up about Fleep for business communication
* Team Naw - a group of freedivers who are on a quest to preserve the oceans around the world
* Electric Taxi - a taxi company revolutionizing the world of taxi service with electric cars
* Fututec - a cloud-based information system for managing real estate
* Õpiveeb – an online platform for teachers and students
* Kodasema – a company working on innovative, sustainable houses
* Bigbank – providing banking services across Europe
* DreamApply – the team building a student admission platform
* SprayPrinter – the device that delivers digital designs to any wall
* Shipitwise - an easy and affordable international shipping service for individuals
* Slick Trade – Forex and NADEX trading education company
* Heroic - an independent record label and management agency

Pinboards: to pin or not to pin?

Fleep pinboards and how to use themFor most people the word “pinboard” associates with a board covered with cork fixed to a wall so that messages and pictures can be pinned onto it for display. In Fleep the concept is not much different, we’ve created the concept of virtual Pinboard to clip important messages, leave notes, create checklists and figure out what still needs to get done and share it with the conversation members.

In its essence Pinboards help to collaborate. As the pins are conversation specific and open to every member of the group it creates better visibility as well open discussions and organic team work. Everyone in the conversation can pin, edit and unpin the pinned messages, they’re shared and open to everyone!

How to pin, edit and unpin messages to Pinboard?

pin messages fleepGetting the important information bits pinned to a Pinboard is simple, all you need to do is right-click on a message in a conversation and choose Pin from the message action menu. That will add the message as a digital sticky-note to your Pinboard of the particular chat you’re currently in.

To unpin a message from the Pinboard you need to click on the Pinboard icon button on the panel on the right-hand side of the conversation, right-click on the pin and choose Unpin from the list.

You can also Edit your pins! This allows you to add or remove information from your pin if you should wish to do so. The pins belong to the conversation and therefore anyone in the conversation can Edit or Unpin the pins if they should want to.

fleep pinboardThe date, time and author of the pin (visible in the end of a pin) is based on the person who pinned the message or who was the last person to edit it.

The pins are listed on the Pinboard in the order they were added (the latest one is pinned to the top). Furthermore, you can also include files in the pins.

Why use Pinboards?

Pinned messages stored to the Pinboard can easily be used for different purposes. We’ve used Pinboards to keep track of bugs, holiday schedules, weekly tasklists, upcoming events and plans, backlog items, important links, notes to self and to the team. Where and how really depends on the conversation topic and context.

But enough about us, we’re curious to know how you’re using Pinboards. Share your thoughts and ideas with us in Twitter or Facebook!