Apr. 14, 2014 10:15 am

How I Work: Justin Shelby, cofounder of Artichoke mobile client management app

This is Baltimore's "How I Work" series, where we'll take a look at the tools and tips the region's startup founders and creative leaders use to get through the day.

This is Baltimore's new "How I Work" series, where we'll take a look at the tools and tips the region's startup founders and creative leaders use to get through the day. If you'd like to be a part of this series, e-mail us.

For self-employed service providers — personal trainers and music teachers, for instance — Justin Shelby thinks he has the app for them.

Artichoke is a responsive web application that helps people working in “check in-oriented businesses get organized, get booked, and get paid,” said cofounder Shelby, 43. It’s an organizational tool at heart — that’s a pun, if you want it to be. Features such as mobile payment processing allow self-employed business owners to process credit card transactions at the touch of a button, as opposed to trading credit information or swiping a card repeatedly.

A graduate of the 2013 AccelerateBaltimore program at the Emerging Technology Center, Artichoke has been a self-funded operation of almost $300,000, according to Shelby, who works from the Betamore incubator in Federal Hill.

This is how he works.

What’s the first thing you do every day before doing any startup-related work?

Work out with trainer Guy Cragwell and a few other friends at Federal Hill Fitness. (Disclosure: My wife owns the place, but I’m just a client.)

How often do you check your e-mail, and do you use any program to get to “Inbox Zero“?

Constantly checking throughout the day because I manage a remote development, sales and marketing team. I have yet to try a program to manage the very crazy inbox.

How do you keep track of your revenues and expenses?


When you need to take a break, what are you turning to?

Exercise is a vital part of juggling the startup day for me.

Where do you turn to for founder’s inspiration when you’re feeling low?

Talk to the users we are serving. It’s reaffirmation that we are going to change the lives of our customers for the better by helping them earn more and improve their quality of life. It’s very exciting and it washes away any lingering negative energy that outsiders may project. Anyone that knows a stylist, trainer, massage therapist, music teacher or any similar professional really gets what we are doing and how transformative it will be for this user. I also try to find the wisdom in what everyone is saying, no matter how counter it is to my beliefs. There is always something to be learned or a perspective to be gained. The balance of these two methods keeps me pumped up and grounded at the same time.

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What’s your gear?

Macbook Air, iPhone, JIRA, Basecamp, ZenDesk, JoinMe, and — oh yeah — Artichoke.

What’s one time-saving tip you have?

Learn to block out the noise early in your day and focus in on the important deliverables. That said, give yourself a day or two every few weeks to be completely away from the office (whatever that means these days) and talk to users, work on a side project — just keep learning. I have found that the greatest ideas can often come from “distractions” that produce completely new angles on current priorities.

Andrew Zaleski

Andrew Zaleski is a freelance journalist in Philadelphia and the former lead reporter for Baltimore. Before moving to Philadelphia in June 2014, he was a contributing writer to Baltimore City Paper and a Tech Check commentator for WYPR 88.1 FM, Baltimore city’s National Public Radio affiliate. He has written for The Atlantic, Outside, Richmond magazine, Washington City Paper, Baltimore magazine, Baltimore Style magazine, Next City,, The Atlantic Cities, and elsewhere.

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Apr. 24, 2015 10:46 am

Betamore just announced 5 big changes

The Federal Hill tech anchor finalized its new nonprofit status, and is focusing on building community through a handful of new initiatives.

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