|FL: Tribesoft is "A Solutions Agency" as opposed to a "design shop" or a "development firm," what exactly does this mean for your current and future clients?
|T: When Tribesoft was founded, we truly believed that the marketing message or
the communication issue at hand was more important and vital than the medium
applied. We also felt their was a strong need in the marketplace for a
"new-breed agency" one that had full strategic and marketing capabilities as
well as creative and technical services all under one roof.
This vision grew into the concept of a Solutions Agency that provides
diverse, ground breaking end-to-end services for its client partners.
Calling ourselves a "design shop" or "web developers" would have
pigeon-holed us and would not have truly portrayed Tribesoft's full gamut of
service offerings and staff talent resources.
|FL: A big debate in the industry places generalists up against specialists. In terms of Tribesoft's successes & mistakes, how important has your firm's stand on this issue been?
|T: Tribesoft's philosophy is that we ride the line between the two
extremes, I believe that our stand on this issue has been very important to
Tribesoft's success. We have devised a unique team structure that leverages
the talents and core competencies of our specialists, while allowing them to
apply themselves to all aspects of a project as generalists.
Our multi-disciplinary structure enables our employees to thrive within
their specific area of knowledge, yet we all collectively share knowledge
and expertise in all the execution responsibilities of a project with other
team members within our studio environment. By allowing everyone on our
staff to share and dig into the development process, we don't impose limits
on our ideas, which permits our client's projects to grow into their full
|FL: The Tribesoft profile mentions that part of your team is made up of "webineers". What is a webineer and what role within your company do they play?
|T: A few of the founding Tribesters worked at either large companies that were
great at providing technical solutions, or strong creative firms that lacked
execution ability. While in their positions at those companies, these
Tribesters were often called upon to be the translator or facilitator to get
these two key disciplines to work together. Imagine sending a
multi-layered Photoshop file to a hard-core ASP programmer - how would he
optimize the graphics, how could he prep it? His job is to add
functionality to a website or application, not to cut up graphics and lay
them out in HTML.
Because we understood the importance of that middle step, we created the
Webineer position. This is someone who has one foot in each world - they
have creative capabilities, as well as technical skills. And, because they
also have strong project management skills, they are the glue that holds
everything together on net based projects.
|FL: Your firm's logo includes a tee pee, where did this come from? Does it indicate Native American connections or perhaps that your firm moves from office space to office space as the buffalo move?
|T: Before founding Tribesoft, I worked with many talented individuals who would
move with me when I changed jobs. When word got out about our company's
startup, the running joke was that "Tony's Tribe" started a new agency.
Additionally, our studio manager, Joseph Kaput, noted that instead of
signing my initials (T.P.) to memos and notes, I would always draw a little
tipi. Thus, everything just clicked from an identity perspective, and we
The "Tribe" metaphor carries over in our company in more ways than
just are name and logo - staff teams within Tribesoft are named after
various Native American Tribes, project teams brainstorm and meet in "war
rooms", our company intranet has been branded SIGNALS and our custom project
management application is titled SCOUT.
|FL: Having & employing a sense of humor in your firm's work is certainly important (what other firm mentions "the next great pen/PDA/rocket-launcher combo") but how well have clients responded to this Tribesoft value?
|T: I have yet to find one client that doesn't embrace and appreciate our firm's
sense of humor. The sense of humor at Tribesoft is only a piece of our
complexity. Our clients know that deep down inside we are also serious
business people, and that we will hit our deadlines and not exceed budgets.
But they also know that we are culture junkies and will tap into our sense
of humor to lighten the mood or punctuate a key business point.
While our attitude and culture helps us develop better solutions for our
clients, that's not the only benefit they receive. Imagine a group of very
serious business individuals coming into our studio, loosening their ties,
playing a game of bubble soccer or pinball, and taking part in an inventive
Our environment and sense of humor provide them with a place where they can
get away from their day-to-day operations and get a fresh perspective, which
enables them to think outside the box on how to attack their marketing or
|FL: "Process Means Success" is Tribesoft's Golden Rule which may lead some to wonder how Creativity works its way into the picture. Does Process hinder Creativity?
|T: Absolutely not. A strong process, such as our 4D process, facilitates and
fosters creativity. Our process educates our clients on the intricacies of
the solutions we provide and enables our employees to have a series of
milestones that builds a foundation so that they can achieve greatness in
the end solution.
|FL: Tribesoft has been around since 1996 and the industry has certainly changed a lot during that time. What have been the strongest trends/developments you've seen in that time which have been seen the greatest effect on Tribesoft's successes?
|T: Tribesoft's success is based on the fact that we offer a complete set of
services and capabilities. In fact, on a monthly basis, we set time aside
to investigate and explore new and emerging trends and technologies. We
can't say that there was one trend or development that had the greatest
affect on Tribesoft's success, rather the fact that we embrace all
technologies and mediums is the secret to our success. There aren't many
agencies to choose from where the staff obsesses about a given business
problem and then applies and all-encompassing solution across various
mediums to address it.
|FL:How important are your alliance partnerships in providing the best work for your clients? Do alliances lock your firm into offering only certain types of solutions?
|T: All of our alliance partnerships are with strong companies who we feel are
market leaders in their respective areas. All their packaged solutions are
open-ended and scalable, therefore we are not locking our clients into any
one particular solution or holding them hostage to a certain technology.
We're pretty emphatic about not limiting our palette of solutions by signing
on the dotted line with an alliance partner.
However, the partnerships we do have are important to us because we receive
pre-release software, and can beta-test by setting up real world scenarios...
This allows us to stay ahead of the curve, and more importantly,
project and forecast where major technology players are
heading for our clients.
|FL: Tribesoft has taken on quite a few projects for community groups there in Chicago. What kinds of benefits do these projects have for your firm? Do these projects present opportunities for trying out new technologies & solutions given perhaps a less demanding client relationship?
|T: Tribesoft is built on a solid foundation of integrity and ideals. Simply
put... I feel the people that work here are some of the most talented people
ever assembled in one group... but beyond that their warmth, caring and
generosity knows no bounds. The entire team at Tribesoft is extremely
dedicated to our community and believes it can make a difference by making
an impact with their talents.
As a group, we like to pick a few charities every year were we can donate
our time and skills to help out these organizations.
Basically it comes down to good will and giving back, in all the charities
we work with they are very focused and have set goals so experimentation
usually goes out the window although we often try and some groundbreaking
work to help them achieve their goals
|FL: Actual websites seem to be just a fraction of the solutions Tribesoft provides. How far beyond websites do you look? Are clients allowing Tribesoft into areas traditionally reserved for advertising & marketing firms?
|T: Tribesoft is offline, online and everything in between. Our clients know
that and tap into our full breadth of services. They really appreciate that
they can go to one place for full-service, end-to-end solutions whether they
be traditional, digital or a unique combination of both.
We recently launched a training project for a client were we had to start
from scratch and initiate all the strategic branding, market positioning,
and educational content, as well as the project's visual theme and tone.
The entire program is delivered across the mediums of print, video,
Interactive and the Internet. The end solution called for a unique
structural package design, flash based CD-ROM, a password-protected intranet,
dynamic database, full banner campaign, customizable print ads, custom
administrative applications, real-time tracking tools, and a full incentive
and reward program.
We delivered this vast and critical program and all its related elements in
under six weeks.
|FL: Has Tribesoft made it a point to focus on a particular industry segment or type of client?
|T: Absolutely not, as it would get stale for our team to only work in one or
two industries. We've obviously had some success in certain areas such as
sports, communications, entertainment, and education; however, we're not
afraid to tackle anything because we know we will immerse ourselves in the
client and learn every aspect of their business in search of the proper
solution for them to solve their problems and motivate their business.
|(spotlight first ran April 2002)