As you may or may not know, the Planetary team is fully distributed, which encourages us to get creative with not only how we communicate, but how we bond as colleagues and friends. Like many other companies, we foster a fun and open dialogue on Slack, ask silly questions during our standups and have a dedicated weekly 'meeting' for casual hangouts, but we often thought that that wasn't enough.
Our team is small but mighty, and we try to keep our marketing spend at a minimum to enable our client rates to stay under the competition. Riffing on the concept of ‘Engineering as Marketing’ popularized by the Weinberg and Mares’ book, Traction, Planetary decided to experiment. As a digital studio that has successfully ideated and launched over 100 products, Planetary is in a prime position to design and develop a tool of our own, so we conceived a service that would enable a seamless way for remote teams to spend time with one another. We figured that, if we offer a useful and immersive experience for those users, it will inevitably generate leads and opportunities for Planetary. Sounds simple enough, right?
During an internal Discovery session, we discussed the need for the tool or service to be hyper-relevant to our business. After exploring many thoughts and ideas, we decided to lean on our internally-built SaaS product, Spacetime, which allows for remote teams to easily schedule meetings across different time zones. We discovered that if we leverage our learnings (and some code!) from Spacetime, we would already have a head start. We knew that a large part of the tech community faces the same issues that we do with having a remote team, and when we realized we could help solve that, Pizzatime was born.
As the name suggests, Pizzatime allows for your remote team to partake in a pizza party. To sign up, your host picks a date and invites your team. The ‘magical’ Pizza Bots then organize the party by finding compatible times and orders your pizzas. As a team, you hop on a video chat and eat your pizza while sharing some good conversation.
Because this was still a marketing play for Planetary, we had a limited budget and needed to use internal resources during downtime to get Pizzatime spun up. Despite those challenges, our team was able to build out the infrastructure, and using Webflow, designed and developed the site in under a month while only utilizing about an hour of an engineer’s time. I knew we were onto something when a pizza magically arrived on my doorstep one Thursday afternoon.
Since its launch, Pizzatime has been used by many remote organizations all over the world, written about in Quartz, and featured on Product Hunt. By our measure, that is a success. While Engineering as Marketing can be one of the more difficult channels to generate leads and new business, it certainly has proven to be beneficial. I’m certain this won't be the last time Planetary experiments with our engineering skills—in fact, we’re cooking up something as I write this.
But before I get back to work, “Pizza Bots, bring me my pizza.”