Scribble Together From Wherever
In a world where remote work is becoming the norm and creative collaboration requires more than video calls and chat conversations, there is Scribble Together, the app that adds an instant shared whiteboard to any call.
Created out of a personal need by Bridger Maxwell and May-Li Khoe, Scribble Together is redefining what it means to communicate with co-workers, friends, and family, wherever they are in the world. Whether you want to send your little sister a fun doodle, or send your boss a genius new idea, Scribble Together can bridge the gap between any distance.
Let’s jump in. Tell us about Scribble Together and how it started.
Bridger: Scribble Together is a shared whiteboard for the iPad or the web. Scribble Together started because we both needed it. I was trying to tutor my niece and May-Li was doing creative work with remote designers all over the country.
By coincidence, we both decided to work on this problem at the same time. We had both felt we could make a solution that would suit our needs than what was already out there. Within a week of each other, we went to a mutual friend, Ken Ferry, to see if he wanted to make the app with us. He was busy with his job at Apple, but he put May-Li and I in touch. It was a great match!
Was this your first time owning the entire process of ideating and creating an app from start to finish? Can you tell us about the process or any big takeaways from building Scribble Together?
Bridger: We are both driven by the need to create. When the App Store was announced I got started on a game, Lumen, and got it released as one of the first apps for the iPhone. It was so much fun to see people enjoy it. I’d stay up until 2 A.M. for many nights after it was released because that is when Apple would show the download numbers for the day.
For Scribble Together, we want to show our own personalities in the app. May-Li proposed we put glitter in the app, which was a crazy coincidence because I was going to suggest the same thing. The glitter turned out great and we have so many other ideas like it.
May-Li: I loved that Bridger was willing to have fun with this as a project from the start. I think that’s part of what makes us a great match. I’d been wanting to put glitter in things on the phone for literally years, and it made me so happy that we were able to make it happen.
I’ve been working on apps since before Steve Jobs told the world that web apps were the way to make apps for the new iPhone in 2007. At that time I was working on an RSS Reader and a shared photo gallery, from within the securely locked doors of Apple, with my collaborator and teammate at the time, Helen Ma.
I also worked on Find My iPhone and the beginnings of Find My Friends back in those times, and have worked on multiple projects since. That said, this is my first time working on an app from outside of a larger organization, and it’s super fun.
How do you see Scribble Together helping remote teams or freelancers?
Bridger: There are some conversations you just can’t have without a pencil and paper or a whiteboard. As humans, we rely on pictures and sketches in order to make what’s in our imaginations concrete both for ourselves and others. For those who work in fields that require visual thinking, this becomes even more crucial. Scribbling together quickly and casually makes it so much easier to have conversations around those ideas.
Scribble Together allows you to communicate visually, even when you are remote. It should feel like hopping up to the whiteboard when you’re in a room together. We hope people will think visually together while far away more than they’ve ever been able to.
We love that Scribble Together came from being a side project. Do you have other side projects you’re working on?
Bridger: I’ve gone all-out on LED lights in my apartment. All of the software is custom, so it can do animations like stars or fireworks from my app. You can even control them with a Harry Potter wand (with a very dramatic Avada Kadavra effect) or summon thunder and lightning with Thor’s Hammer. I’ve put a lot of time into these party tricks, haha.
May-Li: I’m always drowning in side projects. I feel like every job I’ve ever gotten in life started as a side project. I’m currently working on a pixel art game, a project around the stories and history of my Chinese-Indonesian family, and a bunch of music related projects. I co-founded a DJ collective about a decade ago called La Pelanga, and about a half a year ago accidentally started a band with a few friends. It’s called Las Neblinas Del Pacifico.
Do you find that you and your teammate use Scribble Together in your day-to-day?
Bridger: I’m in New York and May-Li is in San Francisco, so we can very confidently say that Scribble Together is great when working remote! I also use it to tutor my nieces and nephews, or just as a personal notebook.
May-Li: Absolutely. One of the great things about this project is that we use Scribble Together to design Scribble Together. I also use it whenever I need to send people a quick drawing for discussion, sometimes even just among friends when it’s got nothing to do with work.
The fact that it’s so fast for anyone to see the image even when they don’t have the app installed makes a big difference. My friends’ kids sometimes even send pictures to their grandparents this way. In my dream world, people would constantly send each other little sketches and they’d fluidly become part of everyday conversation!