Mixed Signals from 37signals

Delhi, India

I accidentally landed on a fantastic landing page by Basecamp that praised small businesses. Here, they specifically make the case that individuals and small businesses do great work and that Basecamp best aligns with them. The copy is enticing—take a look for yourself:

Most big software companies fight over the Fortune 500. The whales, the thousand-seat contracts, the enterprise deals.

They can have them.

Our favorite customers are the Fortune 5,000,000. The small and medium-sized businesses of the world, the individual freelancers, the creative shops that do the best work, not the most work.

Have 3 employees? We’d be honored to have you as a customer. Just you on your own? We’re here for you. 43 folks and growing? That’s what we call Small and Tall — fantastic, come on in.

Small is not less than. It’s greater than. It’s faster than. It’s friendlier than. It’s closer than. It’s better than.

37signals is a company that I have loved and looked up to since I got into tech. I had read ReWork while in college and was a big fan of their blog. I was hugely influenced by what Jason Fried and DHH used to say. I also more or less agreed with their stance around too much politics-related conversation at the workplace.

But it is also a company that has increasingly frustrated me with some of their product and pricing decisions. As an independent developer, Basecamp has just not felt affordable. They are priced at USD 99 per month, which is crazy expensive! They say that upto 10 team members can join in that price, but how is that relevant for individuals? The brilliant copy on that landing page seems more like hollow words ringing loud with irony.

Basecamp's pricing table before April 2023
USD 99 per month for a freelancer? No thanks.

Update (April 2023): Things Have Changed

I had written this a few days back. Upon re-checking today, I noticed that they had changed their pricing during this time! Their pricing page is now showing a USD 15 per month pay-as-you-go price per seat. They only gave me four days to rant about my problem. Not fair. 🤦🏽‍♂️

While this price is still more than other tools like Asana and Linear and becomes higher still because I'm in India, I can at least think about switching to Basecamp now.

Basecamp's pricing table in April 2023
Definitely better.

Update (August 2023): They've Really Turned it Around

I casually opened Basecamp's pricing page (it's almost become a six-monthly ritual for me) and was pleasantly surprised to see an India-specific pricing of Rs. 350 (approx. USD 4.2) per seat per month. This is crazy! Basecamp has suddenly become the most affordable high-quality project management app in India. It's a fantastic move from Basecamp and reflects how project management apps should actually be priced like in the country (thanks to INR's extremely bad exchange rate versus the USD).

Basecamp's pricing table in August 2023
Oh wow! This is amazing!

I still have some qualms about Basecamp's feature set (no custom fields, no cancelled task status) but this has become a no-brainer if you're in India and need a solid project management tool.

Update (January 2024): It’s Going Great, More or Less

We got Basecamp after their pricing update for India—August 2023—and it’s been a mostly positive experience. We now use Basecamp for all our work projects. The biggest benefit has been the ease in coordinating with clients collaborators. We also no longer feel the need to invest in something like Slack with Basecamp’s Campfire doing a more than good enough job for us.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have some qualms about the feature set and the philosophy behind it (I’m planning to write a separate post on that—feel free to nudge me to be quicker). There is also some problem in the auto-debit functionality, most likely related to India’s tight regulations, because of which we have to pay manually every month. But Basecamp is still the the tool that aligns with our work processes the best; and as long as the pricing stays the same, it’s by far the best ROI for any tool that we use.