How I Work: Win Smith and Henry Blue, cofounders of edtech startup Alchemy - Technical.ly Baltimore

Creative

Feb. 17, 2014 8:15 am

How I Work: Win Smith and Henry Blue, cofounders of edtech startup Alchemy

This is Technical.ly 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.
Win Smith (left) and Henry Blue.

Win Smith (left) and Henry Blue.

(Photo courtesy of Alchemy)

This is Technical.ly 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.

As Win Smith and Henry Blue have said before, they’re interested in building the next online platform for teachers. The 30-year-old cofounders of Alchemy are currently testing, with the help of several K through 12 schools, the pilot version of their SmartBinder, a digital lesson binder that “provides teachers drag-and-drop functionality to include or remove a variety of teaching resources, like videos, worksheets and outside websites.” Students and teachers can access such elements as course materials and quizzes remotely from the online binder.

Both of them live in Baltimore city’s Otterbein neighborhood (albeit separately), and they work from a former church on The Avenue in Hampden.

This is how they work:

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

We USED to go for a company coffee run, typically to Spro on The Avenue, but Win is currently trying to conquer his caffeine addiction. (Vegas is showing long odds.)

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

With social faux-pas-inducing frequency. Inbox Zero seems well out of reach though, and we would be worried if it wasn’t. We do use Yesware as well as Salesforce to help us track those we need to follow-up with or chase.

How do you keep track of your revenues and expenses?

We use [Microsoft] Excel-built models to budget for and track performance of expenses and long-term goals. We also use FreshBooks to manage invoicing.

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

We like to walk down Hampden’s Avenue, often to Royal Farms for a snack. Henry’s go-to is Nestle Turtles; Win’s snack-agnostic. If we need a real pick-me-up we’ll head to Grano Pasta Bar for a build-your-own pasta lunch.

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

We don’t have quotes on the office walls, but after particularly hard days the decor in local Hampden establishments can bring some inspiration. Golden West, Rocket to Venus, and, lately, De Kleine Duivel are some of our favorites.

What’s your gear?

Hardware:

  • Henry: MacBook Air, iPad Air, iPhone 4s
  • Win: MacBook Pro, iPad 2, iPhone 4s (but looking hard at an Android device)

Software:

  • Internal Use: SalesForce, FreshBooks
  • Outreach: MailChimp, Twitter
  • Chrome Extensions: Yesware, Rapportive
  • Media: Jing, Camtasia

What’s one time-saving tip you have?

We open up Skype and Google Drive for a virtual office when remote — it lets us collaborate and debate with near in-office levels of efficiency. In fact, we’re doing that right now.

Companies: Alchemy
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