boardPro has been with the GridAKL family since our early days in the Polperro building. We cornered co-founder and C.E.O Brett Herkt to ask about their journey, startup tips, insights and the things they really wished someone had told them before they started on their startup journey.
First things first, Brett can you tell us about the makeup of your team?
Kim Thibault and I are the co-founders, who head up product development and customer development respectively.
Kim runs a small team of developers who are building and supporting the product. There’s Jerry our wonderful front-end developer and Joseph, our clever tech leader.
Tell us about what you do, and what makes you different!
boardPro is cloud software that helps boards of directors with their meetings, documents, and responsibilities. It saves everyone involved in the board process – directors, managers, and administrators – from managing the board process with desktop software.
Barry Baker of Grant Thornton puts it like this: “Board agendas, documents, and notes are a nightmare using the typical combination of emailed docs and a drop box.”
We’re different because we’re intent on democratising the board software market! Which is just a fancy way of saying there’s a mature $200M market providing board software for 30,000 corporate boards around the world but very little for a million boards of small to medium enterprise and non-profits.
And we’re filling the gap with affordable board software that’s designed for the broader needs of smaller organisations with less governance and administrative resource.
Brett, can you tell us about the average day at boardPro?
Jerry and Joseph head down writing code and rolling out the next feature our customers need.
Kim is steering the development team and filling in a plethora of needs from customer support and business technology decisions to book-keeping. And I am hands-on with the marketing and sales activities ranging from a LinkedIn story post to arranging a trip to Australia to woo a prospective affiliate partner.
Startups move fast, what can you see the next four months holding for the boardPro team?
A huge push to:
i) mature our early release product into something ready for full public launch
ii) lots of marketing and sales experiments to win more early adopters
iii) an exciting public launch in early 2017
And the next year is going to look like…
A wild ride to 1,000 customers across Australasia with lots of blood, sweat and tears. We try and avoid tears but heck, we’re a startup – they’re inevitable
Success means different things to different people and companies, what does success look like to you? Really it is more quotes like this – “We ran first board meeting with boardPro recently. The directors are delighted. Our big take aways were a central repository for all our documents, the simplicity and adapability of the system and being able to induct our directors in 10 minutes”. This is from Adele Rose, CEO of 3R Group, a recycling and product management agency, with a board of four and Stephen Tindell amongst their shareholders.
Or, “Just thought I would let you know that we used Boardpro at todays board meeting. Having the agenda outline, and document attachments readily available made the meeting flow seamlessly. Thanks again. GREAT PRODUCT.” – Sean McDonald co-founder and CEO of MOBIT, a mobile marketing platform.
The single biggest learning we have taken from the journey building and launching BoardPro has been…
Doing market validation really well makes the whole journey so much easier. It’s still incredibly hard but establishing problem – solution fit probably means our chances of success go from 5% to 45%
We interviewed over 70 directors and CEOs in the course of validating two opportunities and by the end of that process had attracted seed investment and key partners.
Who do you guys respect and why?
All the entrepreneurs that have gone before us and contributed to the lean startup movement.
The agile development movement. The gutsy NZ angel investment community that make all this possible.Auckland council, ATEED and Bizdojo for believing in the GridAKL and innovation precinct concepts which deliver a lot of value for us.
The one thing we would tell another startup to do is …
Don’t start building the product OR raising money until you’ve nailed market validation and domain experts are attracted to your cause.
The one thing we wish someone had told us was …
Spend the time to get a trusted technical founder onto your team as early as possible.
The best thing on the internet is (other than you – duh) …
A lean startup universe that allows you to self-teach yourself who to succeed with your startup.
And other than this whole thing you are doing, what else are you good at?
Lean startup from validation to canvas to building traction through experiments.
Anya Merryfield is the brand and marketing wrangler for GridAKL. Have something curious to share? Reach out to her on twitter.