I’ve been a How I Built This listener for years. Hearing founders talk about the stories behind their companies has always been inspiring to me. It humanizes the challenges of bringing a business to life, the varied perspectives of why people start a company in the first place, and all the complications, wins, and experiences it comes with.
I started thinking about what a How I Built This episode would look like featuring Qatalog. We’re early in our journey and our story is ramping up. It might begin with Tariq mentioning this pain point that’s followed him from Wise to Amazon, or maybe a funny anecdote that Guy Raz chuckles at before leading into another question.
At Qatalog, we’re just getting started. So instead of focusing on how we’re building this, I thought it would be fun to shine more light on why — featuring many of the people that make it happen.
Kaitlin Ashley, Head of Program Management
Remember open book tests? I remember feeling pretty confident going into an open book test, and how could I not? I had everything I needed to find the right answers: I had the information (available whenever I wanted it), context (this section comes before this section in this chapter), and multiple, accessible guides to help me find what I was looking for quickly (table of contents, index, glossary, bibliography).
Now imagine you have to take an open book test, but you only have access to a few chapters. All the other chapters live with other people, some you’ve met before, others you haven’t, and most of these people are not in the same room as you. Good luck finding what chapters you’re missing and who has them, because the table of contents has also been split out amongst other people, and they’re busy doing their own tests. Oh yeah, and don’t forget — the book keeps adding new chapters and updating old ones.
Sounds ridiculous, right?
That second scenario is the reality of modern work: we’re all trying to do our best in an environment where access to the information, context, and guides we need to do our work effectively are difficult to find and branched across tens, hundreds, or thousands of people.
We believe we should no longer accept this frustrating, messy, and frankly, unacceptable status quo. That’s why we built Qatalog: to provide the transparency, tools, and contextual collaboration teams need to not only locate and understand their company’s histories, but also create better teams, products, and processes moving forward.
Matteo Tittarelli, Growth Ops Lead
I’m building Qatalog to make work more inclusive of people’s unique talents. Since I’ve started working, I’ve learned how meetings and processes have become control measures designed to standardize how people should work. We’re trading uniqueness — which drives creativity, innovation, and progress — with draining logistics and “quality” controls, which diminish people’s personalities and trust in each other. COVID made this even more critical. I’ve overheard my partner being called out in meetings just to be asked where a file is or how to access a tool, and I know she isn’t the only one.
Modern work culture must be more inclusive of people’s differences, whether that’s using different tools, preferring more or fewer meetings, working during the day or at night, from the office or from the beach. Work in 2021 needs a renewed culture that revolves around flexibility, trust, and transparency. I’m building Qatalog to foster this new culture, and help people shine through their unique, new way of working.
Lewis Clark, Head of Communications
Prior to Qatalog, I spent six years at Stripe where I saw first-hand the challenges of scale. Just over a hundred employees became 4,000+, thousands of users turned into millions, and billions of dollars in volume turned into hundreds of billions. Products would launch at a blistering pace, whole countries would light up in quick succession, and new teams would spin up out of nowhere. It became challenging to keep up and figure out how decisions were being made. While Stripe’s email transparency and Stripe Home gave some clarity into what was happening, it seemed incompatible with the mish-mash of tools in use, from Slack to Confluence to Jira. To put it simply, things became chaotic.
This first-hand experience with a business going through intense scaling challenges, coupled with a realization in the pandemic that work was going through a period of historic, structural change, made me think that there’s an opportunity to build something new. That’s how I got to Qatalog.
Tom Hillman, Head of Performance Marketing
As someone who’s experienced the problems of working in a 2000+ person team at Wise during the early days of the pandemic, I recognize all the pain points Qatalog can solve. Since switching to a remote-first, distributed team at Qatalog and getting to use the product daily, I’ve not only been able to avoid all the context switching pitfalls — it’s actively shaped the way I work. I’m no longer lost in Slack looking for important updates, or spending draining hours on Zoom for updates; I can share vital information with my team based around the world, and they’ll see it and any connected projects or goals whenever they’re ready.
I’m building Qatalog because I want other people to share the freedom and flexibility in this way of working, meaning the time I get back from searching for files or skipping between browser tabs can be spent on more important things, like pasta making, and dog walking.
Leo Mendoza, Director of Engineering
I’m building Qatalog so I can spend more time with my family. Building a world-class remote work hub means I can work from home and not worry about missing a status update in my inbox or looking at the wrong doc in our shared drives. I’m building a platform that makes sure I’ve got the most up-to-date spreadsheet, slide deck, or diagram in one place without ever needing to ask around. I often missed my daughter’s bedtime for a “quick” 15 minute EOD check-in, which was never quick. Now, I’m never conflicted between tuck-ins and check-ins and I want everyone to have the same work/life balance.
Marta Kutt, Operations Manager
I am looking forward to more companies using Qatalog and seeing the impact it can have. I really can’t imagine working without it anymore — it makes my life in operations so much easier as often I have many projects and workflows happening at the same time. If only I had used it 5 years ago — all the valuable knowledge that we could have saved!