CEO/Co-Founder, Stomping Ground Photo
In today’s episode we speak with Kelsey Kleiman, CEO and co-Founder at Stomping Ground Photo and Good Job.
This is a treat of a conversation as it shows just how much you can achieve in your Podio system if you dive in and get your hands dirty. Kelsey talks about finding Podio, about diving in and building their first system and about how they slowly brought in almost every element of their business into Podio.
We also take a look at some recent work they have done with Gamechangers where we dynamically create landing pages for their customers based on automations and data from Podio – something Kelsey has wanted to do but never knew how.
We had a great time listening to Kelsey on how she has approached everything, and how much of an impact Podio has had on their business!
You can see more of Stomping Ground Photos here: https://stompinggroundphoto.com & https://www.instagram.com/stompinggroundphoto/
Welcome to Powered by Podio. Automation is everything. Supercharge your business with Podio. Get ready for another episode of Supercharged! with Jordan Samuel Fleming, your weekly dive into the awesome impact workflow and automation can have on your business when it’s Powered by Podio. Join us each week as we learn from the top Podio partners in the world, as we investigate system integrations and add ons, and hear from real business owners who have implemented Podio into their business. Now join your host Jordan Samuel Fleming, CEO of Gamechangers for this week’s episode.
Hey everybody and welcome to this episode of Supercharged! I’m your host Jordan Samuel Fleming, here to talk all about the power of workflow and automation when your business is Powered by Podio. Today’s guest is Kelsey Kleiman from Stomping Ground Photo. Kelsey, welcome to the podcast. Introduce yourself and your company.
Thanks. Um, my name is Kelsey and I’m the CEO and founder of sonogram photo. We’re a sculpture company based out of Brooklyn, New York. Uh, we kind of reinvented the school picture. We have a modern take on it where kids can express themselves and we capture a personality more than an assembly line photo. So we started in 2009 and this is our 10th year in business.
That’s fantastic. And how long have you been using Podio for those 10 years in business?
I think we started using Podio at about year four. Year three or four. I’m going to say I’m going to say year four. Gosh, I don’t know.
That’s how, but well what’s interesting with that though is then you’re going to have a really defined understanding of what business was like before Podio and what business was like after. So let’s start with the very beginning, the very best place to start as Julie Andrews taught us. Um, well how did you guys get to know, like when, when did you discover Podio? How did you discover it? And, uh, what was that kinda like for you guys?
Um, I w I wish, I wish I know how I found Podio. I don’t know. Um, at the time when I was seeking out something to help us stay organized, then we had, you know, we had a business that was growing at about 30% and we were pretty small when we started using Podio. But we have um, clients with shoots with a lot of details to keep straight. And we were for the most part, you know, working with like file folders and, and paper and I didn’t want to go to just, I’m using drive or something like that. I wanted something more. I do remember when I saw it, I was sort of amazed by the, how it was able to be customized. And at the time, I don’t know, at the time I didn’t see anything else that was comparable. So I dove right in and I definitely spent, you know, the, the company has changed so much and we have so many more employees now. But back then I, I spent a lot of time building um, systems for us through Podio.
So you were, you were hands on app building
so I was like very hands on. And then maybe after a year and a half, two years, we had an employee that that could do more than I could. And they were able to kind of push it more. And it’s kind of, then we really started to use it even more. But, and then we found you guys and then with that brought us to an yet another level and I’m looking to take our Podio to yet the next level, which, um, which I guess we’ll get to in the conversation, but, um,
you’ve been able to increase like, cause I’ve seen your Podio system and obviously, I mean I always, uh, register my, uh, my allegiances here, Stomping Ground are clients of Gamechangers, So we know their system intimately. I don’t know it as well as, uh, Andrew the CTO of the company and some of the developers do. Uh, but we do know it and you’ve got a very mature system. Um, you, you have what I would class as a, a pretty powerful, we rarely see systems that do as much as yours does without having a partner involved. So, I mean that with as much of a compliment as it sounds. I that is a real compliment for me. Um, so you know, in terms of like if you think about the, cause you came to this looking for a way to organize, you were growing, you needed a way of doing it. Can you tell me a bit about like what, what have been the biggest impacts Podio has made on the company? An easy throwaway question like that. But like if you could think of like what are some things where Podio has just really helped?
I mean the reason why that’s a hard question is because, everything has been managed in Podio, like everything. So we from you know, I’ve very early on like it seems to me when, when I started using Podio the, the main thing I remember is there like no interoffice email. That’s kind of what they stood for. And so I was like, that was my thing. There’s no inner office email. This is the tool that we are going gonna use to communicate with one another and we’re going to make spaces for every project so if you’re going to talk about this client and this project, that’s where you’re going to go and talk about it. Um, so I would say that was the biggest kind of radical change back then was no more email. We’re using Podio. Um, and the reason, uh, Podio I think was so appealing was because we we do these jobs that span the course of a few months and our producers have a lot of tasks that have to be done and there’s a lot of, there’s data to get and there’s all these different things and while those jobs are in the middle of their timeline, they are then producing other jobs, you know, that are then starting, right?
So they have this like multi, they have all these jobs at different points in the production timeline going on and it’s hard to manage. It’s still hard for them to manage. But Podio, um, allowed us to let those individuals monitor the work, but it also creates a world in which I can monitor the work. And I think that is something where, you know, we are, and maybe maybe, maybe that’s hard for employees, I don’t know. But we’ve created a workspace where we really are able to see like everything, almost everything that is happening. The one of the first major apps I think that I built was our timeline app, right? So if we’re making a timeline for every project and I’m like, well that’s silly. So I programmed, you know, I’ve figured out what are the basic parameters of, you know, because we, we, you know, we have a shoot date and before that shoot date, you know, there are six things have to happen after that shoot date, six things are going to happen.
So I figured out all the different scenarios and let’s say there’s five or six and I programmed those all into Podio so that people can select a dropdown and what kind of schedule, what kind of timeline it is, and then it just populates. And you know, it’s hard. It’s, it’s hard to know how deep to go in a conversation like this because on top of it, on those timelines, we also are email marketing too, we have a client, but under that client there’s hundreds of customers and we’re going to put like an email marketing on there. Well I, we even went so far to like attach the email marketing to the timeline and that generates a bunch of dates that we need to pull out and go put it in a different software, you know, for our selling part. So, I mean, it really does a lot for us.
What I really like about that and you know, the fact that you were able to build this all, you guys, you, you will, you properly in particular, you were able to build it. Um, probably like most of us who discover Podio, you just get your hands in and then, and for some people it takes off, right? Like for some people, like for me, I remember trying it once and going, the hell is this about, and then I tried it again and was like, Oh. And then I discovered GlobiFlow And I went, like at that time was called PodioFlow back in the day. And I, and I went all like, that’s it. And, and that’s a difference between what I always call active management and passive. Passive management is spreadsheets. Right? And the problem with spreadsheets is you’ve got to look, you’ve got to figure out what you need to care about by looking through a host of data.
So it makes it really easy to miss things and it doesn’t dynamically move around. Whereas with like your timeline app, the fact that you can be like, well this is the date and then everything backfills and, and kind of let you know when to do things. And then if that date changes, it can update the dates that suddenly makes it a, wow, I’ve got something active. I can just look at filtered lists for what’s due this week and, and it, and it gives a huge power. Right. Like, and so what did you use before Podio? Was it like a collection of spreadsheets and was there a system you were using just out of curiosity?
Yeah, I’ve, I’ve, I really don’t remember. I mean we does the, I don’t know,
before Podio doesn’t exist anymore, right.
I don’t know. I mean we had a series, we had a time when we had these dry erase boards with every job on it and we would hand write in all these dates. Um, that kind of has been phased out. Uh, probably because of Podio. I, I dunno. So paper just cause spreadsheets and, and, and paper really is what we used.
An email, internal emails probably
and internal emails. Yeah. So the, um, so yeah, so we, um, currently we, we manage the project. Every project has like the details of the job and it, and there’s a bunch of tendrils that go out in every project. So we have a scout app, so you know, that’s going to have photos of all of our locations that, that was a huge thing and much easier to manage then in a drive or Dropbox, which we started out doing. Um, so as we, if we duplicate a project for the next year, which should, we have a system of duplication, you know, that scout app is going to just always be attached. So you always can just click and you can see your location, pictures and everything. So we have a shoot notes app. That’s where all the historical notes of everything we’ve done on that job are. Um, we have a bunch of, you know, deliverables for our clients.
So we have a lab orders app that, that, you know, the post production department like fills out. We launch, um, automated emails by clicking a button that goes right to the client. You know, your, your files can be downloaded here or your shipment of proofs is going to come here. Um, you know, we have a known customer service issues app so that everyone’s on the same page. We have a praise app, um, which we’re, you know, we’re the praise apps fallen off ever since we’ve, we have started using Slack for social, uh, stuff. Um, but we really have so many apps in all of our products. All of our lab products that we potentially sell and don’t sell, they’re in. They’re all, we have a price list app, we have an email marketing app, you know, and all of these things whole holds all of the information, the visual and all of the specs.
So if we need, um, you know, a price list that you’d like, this are going to be like school picture lingo, so you know, whatever. But um, Oh, we have a school and we need to sell packages that don’t have a class photo or whatever reason and we’re only going to be selling an eight by 10 a la carte, you know, we have it categorized so you can kind of filter down and easily find all of our no class photo, priceless and those all pop up. Um, so I think categories in general are very helpful for filtering. I still, we’ve never, we’ve one thing we’ve never had, um, in any organization, like let’s say we’re like about 18 in the office and another 20 in the field, we training our Podio system has been, um, something that we’ve never really had the time to develop.
So I’m still like the best at filtering and views. And you know, I still have to talk about Podio a lot and I have to push people to, you know, set up their computers and set up their views, uh, to be able to use it properly. The other day, um, someone was overwhelmed and I realized that they had their notifications going to their email, which that which people are really afraid to like disable that. But I said, you only can be working in Podio. You can’t be, um, you know, making it so you miss a client email because
I disable all of that. I mean I have to tell you that most of our clients, their number one complaint about Podio is noise.
It’s, it’s noisy and obviously don’t mean physical noise, although that can be a complaint sometimes with the, all it is, is [inaudible] of notifications. But I mean is noise in terms of just the amount of like notifications that happen. And if you are for like when we set up a new system for clients and if we forget because usually what happens, a brand new client comes in and they’ll give us their login so we can go in and you know, bash out a bunch of workspaces that we need and put a, you know, set up GlobiFlow, set up ProcFu all that stuff. Um, and then we start building of course if we forget to, to, well we’re logged in as them to turn notifications off. Oh they like the, I’ll wake up to an email and there’ll be like a Jordan. Um, I thought a thousand emails last night because one of my developers, I, you know, will they do that? So I, the noise I definitely think is an interesting and, and like, so in terms of integrating it with your staff on the whole, like how has that experience been for you?
I mean, it went through different phases because in the beginning, you know, it was a little bit hard to get everyone to convert over. But that was…that was quite awhile ago now. So it’s, it’s in the deep past. But I guess it was challenging. I had to kind of push and push and it was Podio This, and I think, you know, if I told, I didn’t really mention to everyone that I was doing this today, but people would think it was funny. I mean, I’m definitely like the Podio warrior boss person. Um, so I think it’s, um, I’d like you said, our system’s like really robust and we’re also in such a niche business that it could easily take for someone to really feel stable. Um, it’s gonna take three months, but I don’t know, like this might just be how it is for all businesses that are, you know, it doesn’t, even if you have experience and you’re coming into this business, it’s just this, it’s just some very unique business. I think probably so many businesses are like that. Um, Podio has made us heavily processized, um, which from where I’m sitting is good and for management, you know, it’s good. Um, but it’s a lot for people to learn. But you know,
that’s how we do it.
Well, and that’s, that’s really, I mean, I think it’s really interesting because, you know, you do, you’re one of those companies that does control everything in Podio and [inaudible], but that also like, I think it’s really, it’s really good to showcase that sometimes because so much of the time we think about software, it’s like, this is my compartmentalized, you know, this is my project management software, this is my CRM. You know, this is my best. It’s my, that, and, and actually what I think Podio’s greatest strength is the fact that you can bring these disparate, um, business elements into one system and have it all interact. And your system is a good example of really a broadening that out. Um, now, so do you, um, do you integrate your Podio system with any other tools out there at the moment?
Um, we do, we do something with, um, Calendly. Calendly, uh, is how our producers make their appointments with our clients. And it does loop back into Podio. Um, it’s probably a loop that could be better finessed with you guys. Um, we got it about halfway there, but it at least comes into Podio and notifies them, you know, it could do more. Uh, we’ve definitely had a few zaps, um, at times. I don’t know if we currently use Zapier or not. Um, we’re working on the, um, the QuickBooks integration, which we’re going to do with you guys, but we’re just, we just needed to wait a month until we have the bandwidth to start that project. Um, you know, like, you know, I think even in using Podio, I was like maybe militantly like Podio, Podio, Podio for a long time to our detriment. So I have opened up like, you know, people who are using drive a lot and people who like to manage certain things on their own spreadsheets, you know, there is a place for that and all you have to do is link it, you know, so now I’m more open to that.
So I just want everything to be sort of communal. So if someone, you know, so we still do have a number of things that are in, uh, and drive and sheets and we just link it to the proper place and Podio. Um, yeah.
Well, and I think that the, I mean, the project that we just did with you, um, which, you know, uh, you can decide whether you want to say too much about that. Um, but it is a great example of how you can take data in Podio and make it spin and do amazing things. And that’s something that people don’t necessarily realize. So are you comfortable talking a bit about that project or not? It’s okay.
Well, I would like open this podcast with that project because I think that’s like really interesting to say, especially because let’s say we’re, let’s say Podio is the only person, only company, or though the only way to find out how long we’ve been using Podio would be to like go into Podio and ask them maybe. But if we go back, let’s say it’s somewhere between five and seven years, six and seven years, um, and then we’re, so six or seven years later, we’ve discovered this thing that I’ve wanted to do for many years. And I’ve tried to do it. I tried to take so well, yeah. So I’ve tried, I, you know, and it, it really worked so beautifully. And while we don’t have a lot of client feedback yet on it, every time I see what we’ve done, I just am like, Oh my God, like how many companies and people would want to be pushing out a unique client URL at the press of a button that looks beautiful and it, and it’s like, who doesn’t want that for their clients? And you know, we have another division that is not, you know, it’s not at the volume of, of, of Stomping Ground. So we don’t, you know, I’m not putting a lot of like resources towards that, but it’s a, it’s a division where we go into organizations and companies and photograph the staff. So it’s like picture day for adults, you know, but I want to create the same thing for Good Job. That’s called Good Job. Um, yeah. So we should go back to the beginning and say like what it is, but,
well, and for people who don’t, uh, you know, and depending on the, you know, obviously one of the things we are we’ll do without question is we’re going to be putting a link to your, uh, the Stomping Ground Photo website on the podcast so everybody can visit you guys and take a look at your work. That’s something we always do. But one of the things, so what we did with this project, just really, I gotta say, I think it’s really cool as well. Like I w I love it cause I, when I look at it, I’m like, wow, that looks cool. Um, is you had this amazing Podio system and then we combine that with our own coding, you know, capabilities. We’ve got a number of full stack developers. You had an amazing design team designer. And what we’ve done is we’ve spun out a unique, uh, unique, uh, web URLs per client with the most beautiful customer pages you can imagine with data all being pulled in and displayed beautifully designed from Podio.
So you want it to me, what is amazing is it means that you can control everything in Podio, manage everything in Podio, but present the most amazing customer experience. And it is completely seamless. And that’s where, I mean, I have to say, and that that wasn’t, you know, what was that a two month project? Ish. Yeah. Two to three months. The right ish. I mean, you know, and, and it was a, you know, and that is a great example that I think people don’t realize. One of the things Podio can do is you can of course use Podio as a work horse, which you’d always been doing, but then we can, because of Podio’s API is so open, we can push that data and make it absolutely spin on a dime. And now you’ve got a customer facing, um, element, which is automatic, unique and beautiful.
Right? So, I mean, it goes back to that first thing we talked about, which was the timeline app, which we call the key dates app. And uh, you know, we get a lot of customer service. We’re photographing like 85,000 kids a year and a lot of people just need dates. They just want to know when their packages arriving or it’s, you know, all very redundant. And, you know, I’m going, okay, wait, we have all this information in Podio, but how can we just like push it out? You know? And it’s funny, I tried years ago I kind of got, I filtered it into the back end of HelpScout and uh, and I’d, so I did sort of create sort of a janky one for internal purposes, but it never really took off. So the, the pages that we’ve made that push out, you know, that the schools then distribute to all their families, have all the dates, it has a chat for instant chat.
It drives them to, uh, uh, our help desk so they can get, you know, just read the, you know, most commonly asked questions and has our clients’ info in hopes that maybe they’ll contact them instead of us and it has a personalized note from us for like, you know, unique information. And I think the scope of information that goes up there, you know, could be even change and grow as we, like. I came up with another thing yesterday that, you know, we’re, we’re starting to make these MailChimp landing pages for, you know, different shoots we have that our special events shoots. And you know, I was thinking like, Oh, it’d be so nice to just press a button and have the special event, um, landing page made and now I know it’s possible and we all know how to do it. And um,
yeah, it’s a beautiful thing. What I love your, your project is such a great example of, because, because the automation like, because it combines the brilliance of Podio to manage the workflow. It combines, okay, there was some clever development stuff to automatically create these pages with the right templates and all that. And you know, that’s beautiful and great unique URLs. But then you’ve got this beautiful design by your design team. They did a great job, um, with dynamic content that not only comes in from Podio, but like you’ve got that countdown, right. We’ve got like a dynamic countdown of days and minutes and all that and, and it just looks so stunning. And the fact that that can be done really with no extra work from your point of view. Now you just managed it in Podio and then when you’re ready, you go, yeah, okay. Click a button. It’s live. Um, I just, I, I love it and I think it’s a beautiful example. Um, and I can see, you know, from a customer perspective, it’s just giving a customer experience that that just makes you look so much even better. Yeah. It’s really cool. It’s a really cool project and we enjoyed doing it. Yeah.
And you know, I can’t imagine like we, we are not like other school picture companies that we, we do kind of try to heavily differentiate ourselves from other school picture companies. And we were part of the, um, part of the reason I don’t, I don’t have a lot to do with that industry. Like the conferences and all that stuff is because they don’t, they don’t talk about the quality of the photos. So that’s just the first thing that makes us walk away is like, how do you increase sales? Like, well, how about take good photos. But then the second thing is like nobody talks about the backend and all of the data management and all of the planning. And that’s the heart, one of the, that’s the hardest part, you know, I mean, taking high quality photos at volume, it’s hard, but managing all of this information and staying on schedule and that’s like really hard.
But I look at what we’ve built and I’m like, I, I would think many companies like us would want something like this. And especially the, especially the landing page, I mean, there’s so many other things like, um, I would say another powerful thing in Podio that we do and we revamped it this year and it was a heavy lift, um, is we have a series of automations that go out to our clients that help them along the way. So it’s a bit of information here and there like, Hey, we need your data and here’s what it should look like. You know, Hey, here are some discount codes for your volunteers. Um, whatever it might be. There are like, let’s say eight of them, maybe even 10. And those are all built in Podio. We take, we, we, we take the HTML and we program it in and these things are happening on a, you know, a timer, so to speak, or they’re getting manually triggered with a button.
Um, and all of our clients get all those automations and on any job I can go in and see that all those automations, all those communications have gone out when we had to. Um, our mailing list is like kind of hard. Like we don’t, we don’t really have a mailing list and if we were to have to send out a communication in a mailchimp type of thing, it would be a little bit difficult for us. But within Podio it’s easy for us. And so we had a small price increase that had to go out. And so, you know, we did it through Podio, so now there’s a button, you know, that we’ll, we’ll archive that button or make it, you know, make it hit hidden at some point. And we’d go in and we manually trigger that button for all, you know, we did like a hundred and September and the a hundred in October and that email from me goes out really with a click of a button to all of those clients.
Very cool. Which is nice. Yeah. So just a, just to round this off, um, do I want to, I want to round off with two things. Um, uh, obviously right at the end, I want, I want to get all the details up so how people can find you, what you, you know, to so that they can take a look what you do and, and, uh, you know, if they’ve got school, if they’re involved with their schools and then they can, uh, even better, they can pass your word around. But before we do that, what advice would you have for anyone? You know, thinking about plunging into Podio? I mean, like, like is there anything from someone who found it, built it, built a company with it? W what bits of advice as you might you give?
Well, yeah, I mean, I built it because I had to build it, you know, like did a great job. I had to build it. And I also discovered I enjoyed it, you know, so sometimes I ha, I wish, you know, I actually look back fondly to being alone in the office at midnight deep in a Podio hole, you know? But that doesn’t happen anymore. Um, so that was gratifying work for me to do because it had, it’s become the operational backbone of the company. Um, and we, I didn’t have the money to pay a developer. I often do look at the system and say if this had to get rebuilt, it would be a huge job. Um, so I guess it really depends on how much capital you have and where you’re at in your, in your business.
But to be fair, you’ve demonstrated, I think really wonderfully how you can start yourself, build a system that can build a business as good as yours, right? Like you, you, you built the backbone of an operational structure yourself in Podio. And I think that’s really instructive. I think a lot of times people, I mean, I know when I looked at, when I found Podio, it’s because I was running a small business and I was trying to find some way to bring it all together. I think that’s what, you know, that’s everybody, right? That’s all of us words where we got staff and we’re suddenly like, Oh, Jesus. Uh, and how does this all work together? And I think, you know, given the, you know, you’ve integrated so much into Podio, you’ve done such a great job building a system that does so much and now you’re taking it to even greater Heights. I think, you know, people listen to this, it gives a great example of how you can start as a small business, grow yourself to a much stronger business and Podio can be a real backbone for it. I think that’s a great story.
Yeah. So I would say just start, you know, dream it up. It said it gets a little addictive. You’re like, you’re then here this, you know, you’ll build things that you don’t need just because you’re like over excited about the tool. Um, and I think that having a consultant could be really helpful. I think that I probably built a couple things, you know, tragically wrong, um, that, you know, just, you know, it was built from this one perspective and, you know, I wish I could go back, but the system is sort of so big. It’s, it’s hard to change some of those things that I made it up. Um,
but that’s a great, I mean, it’s a great story. It’s a great story of, you know, and the stuff that you’ve built, the stuff you’ve done. I think it’s fantastic. I think it shows that you can just get your hands dirty, get your teeth into it and build something that’ll help build your business. And that’s, I think, you know, anybody thinking about Podio, that’s probably the best lesson they can take. Get your hands in there as you say, and just start to start to build how you want your business to run. right. That’s, that’s what we all want to do.
So, um, just as a way of sign off, can you just, uh, make sure we know, how can people get in touch with you? What sort of, um, people you know, if you’re, like, what sort of people are you looking forward to get in touch with you? Just give us a bit of a rundown and I’ll make sure I put the links in the podcast description so everybody has access.
Uh, sure. They are, um, stompinggroundphoto.com. We operate in the New York city and Los Angeles areas. Uh, our division, uh, for, for adults is called goodjob.photos. We kind of bring the same sort of fun and personality to corporate photos and I mean that can be done anywhere. That’s mostly just in the New York area right now on Instagram we have @stompinggroundphoto and goodjob.photos is our Instagram. My email, I hate email. Is firstname.lastname@example.org. Um, yeah.
Excellent. Well listen, I really appreciate you coming on the podcast. I think your story is fantastic. I think what you’ve built is great and the way it helps to run the, uh, the business is, is a, is a story that will resonate with people. So, um, thank you so much for joining me and for everybody listening. I’ll post all the links into the podcast, um, a description and on to the uh, website homepage and uh, Kelsey have a, it’s Friday today, so have a fantastic weekend.
You too. Thank you. Jordan
You’ve been listening to supercharged with Jordan Samuel Fleming. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google play, or Spotify for your weekly dive into how you can supercharge your business by making it Powered by Podio. Be sure to check out our website www.wearegamechangers.com where you can learn more and arrange a 30 minute call with Jordan to help you understand how Podio supercharges you.