“You want to make things better? Here’s a mop.”

The vision is to build something new — something that makes a difference. The reality? You’re spending more time crushing bugs instead of “it”. If your life was a movie, this would be the 30 second montage between good parts.

Someday soon you’ll earn the privilege of shipping big improvements. The type of releases that people won’t see coming, instead of saying “what took so long?”. You’re able to release features that your customers might not have asked for, but love once they see it.

Right now? You’re working on things…


A draft of this article was originally published on Robin’s team blog, where we write more on product design, startups, and the future of work days.

If I spent five minutes alone with a random person in your company, would I get the right impression?

Earlier this week I spoke on a panel about company culture. Culture is a whale of a topic, but this panel’s common thread was how to grow something that works. Once you hit your stride, how do you actually explain it to others? More importantly, how do you know when the culture works?

Good culture…


Knowledge is Power” Mark Stivers

The first 10 suggestions are easy.
It’s the next 100 that get you.

In the early days of a startup, you rarely know exactly who your product is best for. You’ll know the rough industry, and a vaguely empowering statement about the audience.

“We’re changing the way [Insert booming market] companies manage themselves!”

So you set out with a rally cry, and try to figure it out along the way.

You talk to a few people who work in the, let’s say… pet industry. People like kennel owners, dogwalkers, and veterinarians. You say “I’m building a thing that makes it easy for you to manage your business.” and ask how they currently manage…


This article was originally posted Feb 2014 on Robin’s team blog, where we write more on product design and the future of work days.

There’s a good reason why self-hosted web and mail servers are a rare find in 2014.

If cloud computing did one thing well, it’s that it made people think long and hard before buying a complete server themselves. Infrastructure is hard, and upgrades are expensive. Folks like Amazon and Google take away the hassle via service without the depreciating assets.

I think the devices will go the same way.

DigitalLumens is changing how large spaces use lighting on demand

Ten years ago, the idea of lighting…


How interns with clipboards lead to incomplete data and unnecessary buildings.

If you give an intern a clipboard, they’ll take notes. If they take notes, you’ll end up with a new building… at least, that is if you’re not careful.

One of the weirdest office behaviors we’ve encountered at Robin is the “bed check”. A bed check is something that sounds like a hazing ritual, but in reality is a critical part of how growing companies manage facility decisions. They work something like this:

  1. Acquire an intern or staff member with free time.
  2. Hand them a clipboard and pen.
  3. Send…

Lessons learned from building automation products that give good feedback.

Without looking up, how many lightbulbs in your office are out? How strong is your phone’s signal? Unless you’re sitting in darkness or dropping calls… why would you want to know?

“Nobody notices when things go right.” — Zimmerman’s Law of Complaints

Problems, as it turns out, are the fastest way to bring visibility to your day’s mechanics. Everything is smooth sailing until it isn’t, and then whatever failed is suddenly the center of attention.

This makes the new class of automated tech really hard to get right.

Zach Dunn

VP CX as Co-Founder @robinpowered. Tries to be the fun part of your day. Succeeds sometimes.

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