Several people sent me the link to NYC VC Fred Wilson’s blog post in which he asks his readership for suggestions for a “Family CRM” service. He explains that he and his wife Joanne Wilson a.k.a Gotham Gal are looking for a way to share basic contact/calendar information, build some e-mail lists for social correspondence, planning and general family-managing.
First, I should explain that BatchBook was not designed for managing families, but it WAS designed for those small businesses that are about the same size, shape and energy level of an on-the-go family. I think the folks who recommended us recognize that the flexibility of BatchBook makes it work for all sorts of situations, including the work/life balancing (or is it juggling?) act that we small business owners face every day. As we know all too well, the line between business owner and family member frequently blurs.
My other co-founders and I started BatchBlue so that we could build a business deeply integrated with our family lives (I have three small children; they have two). Part of the solution for me has been using a personal BatchBook account to manage my family life. Here’s how I do it:
– I use my personal BatchBook account for my holiday mailing list, I’ve created a separate record for each person in a couple and link them with a “spouse” affiliation. I also created a field for how I want to address the collective them – ie “Dr. and Mrs. Allen” for my best friend’s older parents vs. “Sean Ransom & Michelle Riggen-Ransom” for my modern dual-name friends. I also created a field for their kids names so I can include them in the addressing.
– I’ve created tags for #doctor (which includes custom fields for hospitals & medications – my son has medical issues), #poker (my husband organizes a monthly game), #house (I seem to always call the plumber from the road), #holiday list, #teachers (with comments for gifts given so I don’t duplicate as multiple kids go through the same classes), #coach (same as teachers), #travel (my sister and I plan our family’s annual vacation so I’m usually dealing with hotels, house rentals, etc.)
– I am now the official keeper of my extended family’s official birthday and anniversary list, so I’ve created custom date fields for birthdays and anniversaries. My husband and I share a Google calendar and events I create from these dates automatically feed to it.
– I don’t keep my daily task list in BatchBook, but I do add events for recitals, performances, doctors appointments, etc. that feeds into my professional and my husband’s calendars.
– If I wanted to I could see my friends’ and families’ most recent Tweets, Flickr images, blog posts, etc. from within BatchBook, but honestly I don’t use this feature much in my personal account. These are all the same people I have on my special private Twitter list and I tend to keep up over there.
– I keep these all synced to my Android (and before that Blackberry) through Gmail. There is also a mobile version of BatchBook, and we are working to release native apps for the iPhone and Android soon.
My favorite criteria listed in the comments of Fred’s post (from wife Gotham Gal) is that the application they need should be built by a mom (we have a lot of those at BatchBlue, though we would add that a busy Dad’s probably just fine too!)
When it comes down to it, running a family is about managing relationships. No need to pie chart the likelihood of closing the deal, or dole out sales scripts to new employees. Just give me my son’s last prescription data when I need it, help me manage three different soccer schedules and keep me in good graces with my elderly Southern relatives who expect to hear from me no matter how busy I might be with work. Thanks to BatchBook, all that I can do.