How do you communicate within your startup?

communication, less is more
YC sharing about ”skin and bones” architecture by Mies van der Rohe

Graduating from business school, I’m taught that communication among team is upmost important to a manager. Information should flow 360 degree, Managers should keep their team updated with latest development, the direction it is heading while collecting feedback from members about the problems they faced, etc etc.

This keeps the team in the loop and have them feel that they are part of company. But often not in the real world, this is not the case. Information flow among employees / managers are often limited or none. Maybe because everyone is too busy,maybe certain info are confidential, there are many reasons.

Intraix weekly open table

there is no manager, no employees, everyone is equal

Intraix is building up its team and I’m experimenting with different ways to avoid communication pitfall, while at the same time trying to set an open culture within. We just had our first weekly open table session on Thursday. It’s a weekly sharing session that each of us are given 5-10mins to share anything…from what we have learn for the week to the issues we faced and even down to pointing out the mistakes of the founders. Or it can also be a topic that’s totally unrelated. For example. Yew Choon (our employee no.1) shared about “skin and bones” architecture by Mies van der Rohe and Mies is often associated with the following aphorisms:

“less is more” & “God is in the details”

if you are into minimalist design, you should read up on Mies.

Communication tools, less is more?

Inspired by Venture Hacks recently post on “No email at AngelList“, I shared with the team the plans to streamline our communication tools.

If you’re running your company via email, you’re missing out on newer, more effective communications technologies.

At the opposite end of AngelList, Intraix uses lots of email. This is because Darrell and I started out using email as our primary tool, we are used to cc each other. We have no need for any other tools because there were only two of us. But as the team grows, emails does not work. All these back and forth emails, together with team members being cc in it, results in a whole load of emails, that sometimes I do not even bother to read. I would just ask directly.

So we decided to use the “more effective communications technologies“. But this leads to bigger problem, information is everywhere (becomes very messy) because we are using too many of it.

Project management cum Tracker


We are using both Asana and Trello.

We started with Asana because we love the email feature that’s integrated within it. When you comment on a task, it would be send as an email and if you reply via email it would be listed as an comment under the task. In my perspective, this keeps my task and email organised. Trello was later introduced because our engineers love it, it is visual and it allows you to see the whole workflow. It’s especially lovely to a PM, because s/he is able to see the whole project in one glance.


Currently, Asana is use between our business mentors and us, while Trello is use between our engineers and us. But using two project management tools means our information are often duplicated. So I would be streamlining our project management tool onto Asana.

Why Asana?:

1. Mainly due to the email integration

2. We are using Trello like a tracker for our product and this can substitute with Github, which itself has an awesome issue feature and all our repos are on Github.

Instant messengers


we use almost all the instant messengers available.

I can be asking Darrell a question on Facebook messenger, and he would reply me on whatsapp. Than our japanese partners would “Line” us and we would continue our conversation there. Between colleagues those on iPhone or mountain lion, we would be using iMessages and finally is our Taiwanese & Chinese suppliers, they would be using wechat.


To keep our employees personal life apart from work. We decided to move into Hipchat. I registered using everyone’s intraix account. This is mainly for short chat and ad-hoc discussion with clients.

Why Hipchat?:

  1. Has both mobile and webapp (very important) – I can be using the mobile app when I’m on the go and the webapp when I’m back in office with all the chat history still available. (whatsapp does not have webapp)
  2. Ability to create rooms – we have an open room that all of us talk rubbish and discuss where to go for lunch. We also have several private rooms for project discussion, only those involved would be added in.
  3. Ability to add guest – I love this the most. I’m about to create an open room and invite our partners to join in for a chat. No longer do I need to copy and paste my discussion to my engineers. Now together with my engineers we discuss with our clients directly. This reduces the communication breakdown while passing of messages while at the same time, having all stakeholders working together, improving relationships.
  4. Ability to act as mailing list – If I have a long “heart to heart” mail that I want to send to everyone in the company, I can do it in the private room with an @all.

This is the lesson I learn for the past few months while growing the team. The use of communication tools might be better with less. So I share this with the team because the change in communication tools involve everyone. And in coming weeks, Intraix will be transiting from “so many tools” to only Asana, Github and Hipchat.

Move fast, break things – facebook

I’m not sure if the weekly sharing session and the tools we use would be visible in the long run as the team grows bigger. But I’m sure I would learn and make changes along the way. I love to hear and learn from fellow entrepreneurs / project managers how are you all keeping up with the information flow within the team.

5 thoughts on “How do you communicate within your startup?

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