Grouptale’s journey

One of my first projects came out of a personal problem — how do you improve the deliberations process?

Screenshot of Grouptale today

Before Grouptale, many of the organizations I was a part of used spreadsheets or physical notebooks keep track of candidates. There wasn’t that much discussion beyond the deliberations meetings, and these could be painful because there was so much discuss.

Grouptale was a pretty simple website, but it helped make this process a little easier by making it easy to comment and express interest online together.


Grouptale first started as just a fun way for me to learn web development. I begged and pleaded with my friends in the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations to use it, and they eventually relented. Back then, it looked like this:

The background picture is taken at the Dolmabahçe Palace! I took a trip there with HPAIR back in college :)

The app back then was so ugly and slow. It took tons of clicks to navigate anywhere.

It also wasn’t very mobile friendly. It barely worked on desktops too.


A semester later, I tried to clean it up a bit (the “flat design” was all the rage).

I used Meteor to build it this time, so it was a bit faster and better. But it still was pretty bad, with a really confusing three column layout.

Sharing was really hard as well. I started with a flow like Google, where you type emails, but then I realized that most users just share a link to the campaign to invite their friends anyways.

It still wasn’t mobile-first, either, which was important.

Later in 2014

During the summer for 2014, I had some free time and began working on the third (and current) version of Grouptale.

I really liked the Lato font, so that’s what gave the text a sort of rounded quality.

Grouptale became much easier to use on all devices.

I learned a lot on the business side from trying to get this off the ground.

The success of Grouptale would not have been possible without the feedback, support, and help from all my friends.

I’m no longer working on Grouptale now. Instead, I’ve been doing a little soul searching.

Thanks for reading! If you have thoughts, I’d love to hear them — tweet me @realericlu.

Originally published at

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