The startups that usually come to mind are the ones who have succeeded at telling their stories the best. But there are stories behind those stories and Ways We Work is where you’ll find them. Amandah Wood and Matt Quinn are the duo behind Ways We Work, a site dedicated to telling the tales from the designers, developers, and other builders behind the products and services you know and love.
Wood and Quinn recently launched a new design of the site and I sat down with Amandah to see where their story has taken them so far – and to swat away the seemingly endless hordes of wasps trying to get her croissant.
You just launched a new design of the site. What was the motivation for that?
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone going from tech or digital to farming. That’s super awesome.”
– Amandah Wood
On a really base level, it’s good to re-envision a site every so often – six months to a year. The other really big thing is that we’re doing collections. We group interviews based on the profession, designers, photographers, developers, founders. We interview such a wide variety of people that it can be hard to group them. Having those collections makes it a little bit easier for people to find topics they’re interested in.
You’ve interviewed many people in both Canada and Silicon Valley. Would you say there’s a difference in the attitudes of people in Canada versus the Valley?
Surprisingly not. I thought that people in San Francisco would be a little more cutthroat – or focusing on their own thing because everyone has their own thing going on. I remember writing to Marc Hemeon of North Technologies and I just thought I’d never hear back from him. He did and he was super nice. When I spoke with him over email, he was just willing to help. The other guy was Luke Beard from Exposure. I didn’t meet him personally, but Matt talked to him and he said “in the Valley, as long as you’re not an asshole, people want to help you.” I think that’s a pretty standard metric anywhere. That was cool to see and it rang true for us when we were down in the Valley. We were able to visit Facebook and that was an opportunity I didn’t think we’d ever have.
So in general, people react positively when you reach out?
Yeah, I don’t know if it has something to do with that it’s just the two of us and we’re not a big publication. People seem just more willing to help.
Do you think the story telling aspect of Ways We Work resonates with startups?
I definitely think so. I think we have more of a connection with people who read it that way. Neither of us have done content publishing before, we’ve never worked at a publication, we’re not journalists. Matt tinkers in photography, even though he’s amazing at it. All of the stuff we’re doing is stuff we’ve never done before and I think that resonates with people too. You don’t necessarily have to have a background in something in order to try it and be good at it. It’s about how excited you are about it and care about what you’re doing.
Would you consider yourself a media startup?
I don’t know. I’m always weird with the startup terms. Matt looks at it from the business model, which is helpful because I don’t have that side of me. For me, it’s always been a really creative project and it’d be sweet to fund it somehow. For Matt, he’s always been good at seeing the potential business model. How we could potentially support ourselves from it. It’s good to have that mix. Media startup – maybe.
Whose story would you binge watch?
Rachel Segal. She was doing freelance digital consulting work in Toronto and Vancouver. She lived on a small island on a farm. A few months ago, her and husband made the decision to be full-time farmers. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone going from tech or digital to farming. That’s super awesome. I’d love to see how they do and where it goes.
Where do you see your story taking you?
There are levels of things I foresee. I would first like to be able to do it and not have to do anything else to make money. For every interview, we’d love to be able to do them in person – take the photos. Bigger picture, we’d love to be at a place where we have five to six interviewers. Someone helping with content marketing, the strengths that Matt and I don’t have. That’s the big goal.
Image courtesy Matt Quinn.