Jason Fried ’99: Basecamp

By:
Alaina G. Levine, Wayne Toberman photo

It is used by millions of people and hundreds of thousands of organizations across the globe, from Fortune 500 firms to freelance creatives who sell their wares on Etsy.

Basecamp, launched by Jason Fried ’99, started as a way for his team to manage projects for his company, 37Signals.

As clients noticed how easy it was to use, “a lightbulb went off,” says Fried, and 37Signals decided to put Basecamp on the market. It is now one of the top project management programs worldwide. 

Even before he graduated with a degree in finance, Fried owned a web-design business. “I have always liked design, companies, and business,” he says. “I’m not built to work for other people. I’m an entrepreneur and that’s it.”

Fried also has written “Remote: Office Not Required,” about the benefits of telecommuting, and “Rework,” which focuses on the business principles of his own success. He writes a column for Inc. magazine as well. 

Despite all of his accomplishments, Fried says that he doesn’t take things too seriously — except taking care of clients.

“The hardest thing is staying in business,” Fried says. “But I’ve been doing it for 15 years, and I get to wake up in the morning, work with great people, great customers, and a great product, and not be carried away with what’s ‘new, new, new’ in the tech world.”

The UA “pushed me toward being an entrepreneur” through experiential classes, says Fried. Now, his background and education have come together to give him a rogue mindset. “There’s a different way to run a tech business,” he says. “You don’t have to ‘go big or go home.’ You don’t need to do things the way everyone else does.”