Interview with Bruce Stronge (TriggerApp)
TriggerApp is web-based task collaboration app for project and billing management.
I interviewed Bruce Stronge, TriggerApp founder to find out more. This is the hundred and forty sixth in a series of DW startup interviews. Big thank you to Bruce!
Give us the elevator pitch for TriggerApp.
Team and client collaboration, task management and time tracking in one, elegant web app.
What’s your background? Am I right that you own three businesses right now; trigger app, Charter Yachts and NetEngine?
I had a real estate investment business in Central Europe for a few years before moving to Australia in 2007. I then started NetEngine building ruby on rails software for clients, and TriggerApp was born as an internal NetEngine project.
My business partner and I satiated our love of sailing by setting up CharterYachts – which at one point was the largest yacht charter agency in Australia – but we now focus only on TriggerApp and NetEngine.
What led you to start working on TriggerApp?
An internal need at NetEngine to better manage team collaboration, whilst communicating with clients and recording time. Actually, I was sick of spending my weekends putting together invoices, so decided we needed a single system to generate invoice line items from the task titles we’d been working on with our clients.
How do you balance your time between your businesses?
We probably messed up CharterYachts by trying to focus on too many businesses at once (the financial crisis and the strength of the $aus didn’t help). NetEngine software development is my core focus, and the ongoing development and support of TriggerApp is becoming more and more of a ‘thing’. As TriggerApp becomes more of it’s own entity, we’re gradually splitting the NetEngine team and hiring around TriggerApp.
Who is the team behind TriggerApp? Where are you based?
We have about 12 people currently at NetEngine and TriggerApp, a few of which are now dedicated TriggerApp team members. Most of us are in Brisbane, one in Manila and one in Sydney.
What’s the startup scene like in Brisbane?
Actually it’s buzzing – I can’t wait to see what emerges in the next 12 months from what is now being dubbed ‘Silicon Beach’.
What was technically the most challenging part of developing TriggerApp?
Annoyingly we spent ages on the subscription billing part, just before Braintree came to Australia and made things easy.
How long did it take to put together TriggerApp?
We’ve built it very very slowly over about 3 years, mainly during NetEngine downtime – an excuse for our team to play with new technologies and libraries – hence why the UI and frontend has radically changed a few times.
What are you working on right now?
We’re midway through a rewrite of the TriggerApp backend this time. We’re leveraging new tech to improve performance and search, and will be bringing out Dropbox, Google Drive and some CRM integrations – to close the loop a little more.
Do you have any new features in the pipeline?
Yes, mainly integrations with 3rd parties (including Amazon web services), otherwise the big ones are scheduling and quoting.
Where do you see TriggerApp in 5 years time?
We know we aren’t for software developers (NetEngine uses sprint.ly), and we know that digital agencies and designers (who appreciate our beautiful UI) love TriggerApp – and basically any professional services business who manages tasks/projects and tracks time.
Has TriggerApp got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?
Having done almost no marketing, I’m really happy with the steady adoption rate we’ve had since we launched earlier this year. With the next version coming out early 2013, we’ve kind of been lying low in anticipation – ready to show off.
How have you marketed TriggerApp? Any big clients on your list?
Mainly we’ve been noticed through our integration with Xero.com online accounting. Also in a few web design blogs in the States which sent us ridiculous amounts of traffic and signups. Most of our clients are small businesses between 3 and 25 people in size – so no, sorry no big names.
What advantage does TriggerApp have over its competitors?
It’s being built by the seriously talented development team at NetEngine, and most importantly it has no VC or investors, so we’re in the driving seat.
What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?
Working out who our customers actually were and, learning how to say no to feature requests.
Can you name 3 trends that excite you.
Big Data, open innovation and Dr Martins coming back.
Which entrepreneurs do you most admire?
The guys from developmentseed.org I have followed for years. I really respect their leadership in the open source and open data arena, and their ability to turn that goodness into a business.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone thinking about starting up?
You better love and know the area you are about to enter, because you’re going to have to live in it to succeed. If it doesn’t excite you, don’t bother.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
I stubbornly refused to tweet until about a month or so ago, now I’m learning crazy amounts from people passionate about the same stuff as me, from Twitter, on my iPhone, in bed, at crazy hours of the morning.
Can you convince the reader to start using TriggerApp in under 50 words?
If you have a team who you collaborate with, and clients who you invoice – use a beautiful piece of software to keep everyone happy.
Finished reading? Check out TriggerApp!