Adam Torres and Brad Weber discuss the challenges businesses face when developing apps.
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Startups, small businesses and enterprises alike often face challenges when developing apps. In this episode, Adam Torres interviewed Brad Weber, President & CEO at InspiringApps. Explore InspiringApps along with the upcoming book Brad will be launching with Mission Matters.
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About Brad Weber
For 25 years Brad Weber has been building things, many of those things have been mobile apps, web apps, and desktop apps. He also built InspiringApps.
Although he’s a software architect and developer at heart, his BS and MBA in business, and decades of experience working with startups and huge enterprises, give him the ability to quickly understand your business and its opportunities, while effectively applying technology solutions to maximize those opportunities.
InspiringApps designs and builds mobile, web, and custom apps, providing strategic business solutions and immersive experiences. Their mission guides us to transform ideas into reality. InspiringApps builds digital products that help companies impact their employees, customers, and communities.
Full Unedited Transcript
Hey, I’d like to welcome you to another episode of Mission Matters. My name is Adam Torres, and if you’d like to apply to be a guest in the show, just head on over to mission matters.com and click on Be Our Guest to Apply. All right, so that I have Brad Webber on the line. He is an upcoming author and one of our mission matters books I am proud to announce, and he is also president and c e o of.
Firing apps. Brad, hey, just wanna say first off, welcome to the show. Thanks, Adam. Happy to be here. Thanks for having. . All right, Brad. So we, we got a lot to cover today. We’ll, we’ll be talking about of course, inspiring apps. We’ll talk about how you got started and really your journey in business. And then we’ll, we’ll touch on the, on the book a bit.
I just we’ll keep it a little high level cuz of course for everybody listening, we will be bringing Brad on the show for a second part of this two-part interview series and we’ll bring ’em out when the book is actually live as well. So, but we’ll start this episode the way. Start them all with our Mission Matters minute.
So, Brad, we at Mission Matters. We amplify stories for entrepreneurs, executives, and experts. That’s our mission. Brad, what mission matters to you? Our mission at Inspiring Apps is to help our clients overcome business challenges with custom web and mobile apps that we design and develop for. . I had a similar emission during my decade as an independent software developer, but as just one person I was limited to helping, mostly small to mid-size companies.
But in the 15 years since founding Inspiring Apps, I’ve grown a fabulous team of designers and developers who can tackle much larger challenges than I was able to handle on my own. So now we design and develop new web and mobile products for large enterprises, and our work impacts millions of users. . Ah, it’s, it’s a great story and one that I’m, I’m happy to bring to my audience and as well, and I guess just to kind of kick this off, let’s let’s talk a little bit more about your background.
So you mentioned this decade long journey, like, like what inspires you to get out there and to be an entrepreneur and start your own company? Well, it started before founding my own company as an independent developer. I worked at a, a big six, as we used to call it, consulting firm back in the. With tens of thousands of employees working on giant billing systems for telecommunications companies and things like that.
I had, I, what I think is an atypical experience there. In my three years, I never saw a project successfully completed. That’s a, that’s a tough way for somebody like me to be. I, yeah. I wanted to develop and build things that people actually used. So I was working at the time to build my skills and my own network to start working with those smaller companies to be able to develop applications entirely on my own.
Mm-hmm. Primarily desktop applications back in the day. So this was almost 25 years ago now for that. And then through many experiences on my own, I, I was getting the itch to, to grow a team. And, and tackle bigger projects and, and be able to take on bigger things than I was able to do on my own. So at about the eight year mark as an independent developer, I started planning for founding and growing inspiring apps.
Wow. Yeah, it’s a, it’s a great story and I feel like I mean, you have a unique vantage point because you’ve obviously been doing this for a long time, number one, but number two in your entrepreneurial journey, really, you saw it, I, I believe where we’re now in like this renaissance where it’s just more, it’s more feasible, it’s more obtainable for many people to do either.
Freelance work to grow their own companies, especially just with the demand there is for whether it’s software or other, or other services in that, in that realm. What would you tell like that, that new group of, let’s just say entrepreneurs or individuals that are, that, that are maybe feeling a little bit of a dissatisfaction and they wanna go out there and start their own thing or their own projects, like what kind of things would you tell them, obviously now having the, the benefit of hindsight and experience under your belt?
It is a lot of work. We can start with that. . It is risky in the beginning for sure. Mm-hmm. . And I know that some people take the approach of just leaping off the cliff. Yeah. And, and hoping they, they sprout wings before they they hit the ground. For me that that was not a comfortable approach. It was definitely more tapered into that experience.
So as I mentioned, I was working for. A big six consulting company. I left when I thought I had enough business to, to get my development my consulting business going on my own and learned that I didn’t have enough clients. So it took on another job. I worked there for a while again. Tried to grow up my network left again found a second time that I still didn’t have quite enough.
So I went back for one more job. Before ultimately I was able to leave and, and stay independently employed or, you know, working on my own business. And, and it’s been that way ever since. So, a little tough don’t get scoured in the be beginning if if it’s not a blockbuster success right out of the gates.
With some persistence and, and hard work and a lot of patience, I was able to get to something that would sustain me. And, and now a large team. If you could if you could go back, is there anything that you would you would do different? ? It’s a tricky question. There are tons of mistakes that I’ve made along the way, so it’d be nice to do with a little less pain.
But at the same time, those lessons were important to get me to where I am today. So I, I think I have to answer. No, I, I probably wouldn’t make changes because I’m, I’m worried that I wouldn’t end up in this seat talking to you. Well, I, I’ll tell you what, well, I’ll pick on myself. There’s a whole lot of things I would’ve did differently.
I didn’t know that I was, I didn’t even know I was in the media business when I started Brad. At least you knew what business you were in, . That’s true. Oh, all right. Well, let’s let’s. Let’s let’s go further into, into inspiring Apps and really where you’re at today. So now you’ve grown a team and I, and I, I know I caught this from the, from the beginning as you mentioned when you were talking about your mission.
So you’re really working with with multiple segments or niches or sizes of clients. How do we wanna word that? So you work with with small businesses, you work with that middle level, and then you’re also working with enterprise. I feel like Mulo of dev shops don’t really. Span that width of, of capability whether it’s by choice or resources either way.
Can you tell me a little bit more about, maybe about making that decision to kind of go that route? Yeah, I wish, I wish I could say it was all under our control. Yeah. But certainly in the early days when we were smaller, It, it takes time. You have to, you gotta put the time in. You have to earn the trust of the, the clients that you have.
And for us, our business was primarily smaller customers in the early days. And then you can, you can watch, if we were gonna go back through the history over 15 years, there was definitely a progression where we were able to earn the trust of larger and larger customer. To the point where eventually we’re, we’re working with Fortune 100 clients, which could not be expected out of the gate, as, you know, a 1, 2, 3 person company.
Yeah. It’s, it’s over the course of developing, designing and developing hundreds of solutions for companies that really put us in that. . Yeah. And in my, in my mind, and correct me if I’m wrong on this, but it seems like, like all these different tranches of clients, whether it’s funded startups or small businesses or enterprise, like they all have their unique challenges.
So we, as we start, as you started this interview, you said, you know, one of the things that working for the you know, the big six back then that that maybe didn’t give you the most satisfaction is you never. Saw your, see your product actually out there and live and launched and making the difference of people’s lives.
So let’s kind of, let’s kind of niche these down a little bit cause I know I, I feel they have different they have different, you know, challenges to getting the products to market. So maybe start with what it’s like to work with funded startups. Sure. So I think in this progression as we, as we talk about these, inspiring apps really has the pleasure of working side by side with the Davids and the Goliaths in these industries.
and, and they’re very different. So as you mentioned, funded startups, part of the challenge is just getting the funding. So that often takes much longer and is a, a more, more difficult road than people anticipate. But once the funding is secured mm-hmm. , when you are building a business around an app that we create or maybe a suite of things for, for which the app is an important part.
You are starting from scratch. It may sound obvious, but you have no customers. You have no revenue. Yeah. And, and those things are giant hurdles To go from no users to try to build up something that’s formidable in the marketplace is hard. And, and getting to a point where you have enough users who can give you feedback and really drive your product, develop.
I think that’s a primary challenge for the startups that we work with. Mm-hmm. They gotta survive long enough to get to a point where they’ve got a, a healthy, vibrant community of customers who are giving them feedback. Mm-hmm. Then telling them basically what they’re willing to pay for in, in the product that we’re working on.
Is there any any comments on maybe the, the types of niches that you tend to work with? Or even like founders and just in general, like in that, cause I know it’s a, it’s a different personality type in terms of just the complexion of the business in general versus like enterprise where it’s really, you know established you know, maybe siloed, maybe not a lot of different types of enterprise level businesses.
But talk to me more about like the, the management part of. . So I think like any business that’s going to develop around a product, whether that’s a digital product or physical product, I think the the recommendations are similar, which is that it’s also challenging to go that alone. So yeah, we do get people who come to us who are inspired, individuals who want to change the world, and they have a product.
but there’s so much that goes into making that successful. As I mentioned, you’re, you’re trying to build up your business and build up your customer base. So there’s a sales aspect to that. There’s certainly marketing knowledge that needs to be a part of that equation. So we find that the people in that category for us, these funded startups who are most success.
Are the ones that have at least a small team around them that can distribute that work. It is really difficult to wear all the hats and Yeah, and get something like that off the ground. Oh my gosh. You’re taking me back to the, to the early days of of mission matters. Brad, when I’m I was doing the interviews, I was.
Editing, I was doing the distribution, man, that was, I was pulling my hair out like . That was the, the early days of where we began. So my hat goes out to any founder out there that of a startup that that has that mission or has that goal and wants. To go at it and just has that tenacity to, you know, maybe fall on their face a couple times and just keep on Sure.
Pushing and keep on moving cuz it’s, it’s not easy. It’s always easier from the outside looking in than actually in my opinion, walking in those shoes. So my hat always goes off to them. But any, any kind of tips for those that are out there when it comes to getting a project. From you know, from beginning to, to actually getting to that next level where they’re getting user feedback.
What kind of tips from your vantage point, Brad? Well, I think let’s see. Reserving enough resources so that you, you can stay in for the, the long haul. You can, yeah, you can run the marathon and not the, the sprint is important. So we work a lot with these startup. to help them . You want to think big in terms of your business and your longer term vision.
You want to think small in terms of the first thing that you develop and try to release to the public. And so some people will come in with, with a decent budget and a grand vision for what they want to do. , but you know, if you’ve got a quarter million dollars that you’re gonna spend on your new product, you should not be spending a quarter million dollars on the app design and development.
You know, you should be spending maybe a hundred thousand dollars on your app design and development and reserve 150 on marketing and promoting and building this community, building out your team and some of the other services that are required to make your product a. . Yeah. Well said. I wanna, I wanna talk about the small business community a little bit here because I also know that’s a big part of what you do.
And so we can be talking about, you know, businesses that have been, you know, multi-generational businesses begin to be, talk about the, the digitization of coming online and kind of bringing your business into the or, or a small business into You know, and and let’s say new capabilities of what’s available and what’s possible by, by digitizing the business.
Talk to me a little bit more about just kind of the work you’re doing in that space. Sure. So what we often see for this group of customers is that, as you said, they are more of an established business now. They have customers, they have budget, they’ve got process, they’re growing, they’ve got a decent sized team.
what they’re interested in for technology to help them is to gain efficiencies in their business. So with them, we’re doing things like providing tools for field data collection for their team so that, you know, they’re getting the, the people who are making the decisions back at, at corporate headquarters have the latest information from the field, whether that’s collected by humans on tablets or if it’s sensor.
There’s, there’s a whole variety of ways to do that, but we’re, we’re focusing in areas like that. So improving the organization through things like tools that help them with their leadership development team, collaboration, communication, things like that. So the, the mid-size customers tend to be a little more internally focused, where they’re trying to work on systems and tools that will improve the operation of their.
Yeah. What kind of what kind of challenges do you find that many small businesses have when it comes to coming online or that digitization process? . Oh, can you say more about that? So for what, so what kind of challenges do you find that many small businesses have when it comes to coming online and that and that real digitization process to going through that hurdle?
Like to, to adopt the, those tools internally, for instance. Yes. Yeah. And I, I think that’s, that’s one of ’em is, is adoption. It’s important. in the small businesses. We talked about getting feedback from your customers. The customers are outside your organization, you know, spending money hopefully, on whatever it is that you’re providing to them.
For this middle group, as I said, oftentimes they’re focused inwardly, but it’s just important, just as important to treat your internal users, the people on your teams within your company as your customer as well, and put the same level of effort. Understanding them, understanding their needs, gathering their feedback, listening to them, iterating on the, the products and tools that you’re creating for them, and making sure that you’re getting them the updates that they’re asking for.
So I know that going through that process of and, and I know, you know, broadly speaking, there’s a lot of different applications and ways that people may, may use, you know, this a new app or something, whether it’s, like you said, collecting data from the field or just depends on the type of business.
Right. But the main thing that I’ve, I’ve seen is that it’s not gonna be, it’s not gonna be easy. Like, I’ve been into offices where, you know, Especially just the digitization process in general, where all of a sudden you have all these files and you know, years and years, maybe decades of files that need to be brought online so that people can actually access the information.
So there’s a lot of hurdles and different types of businesses. Of course, but I guess. From your vantage point, like what are some of those possible, like, you know, light at the end of the road or pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or like the, the benefits of going through sometimes what can be a tedious process because there’s usually some gold at the end of that, right?
Yeah. And it has to be a win for the people who are using the tools as well as the people who are analyzing the data that we’re collecting, for instance. Yeah. And What was I gonna say? For the for the data collection that you’re talking about we are often no longer really digitizing somebody.
We’re not taking so many people from a paper process to a digital solution for the first time. Yeah. But there is a light bulb that goes off when people realize that they don’t have to use shared spreadsheet. And other kind of cumbersome processes in getting the data from the, the point of collection to the point of reporting.
Mm-hmm. . So what we bring to the table that is kind of a breath of fresh air for their teams is something that’s entirely tailored for their process. So there’s no extra stuff that they don’t need, and there’s all the stuff that they do need just to focus on their, their particular job or their particular task that they’re trying to accomplish.
So an example of that is a clothing retailer that we worked with who wanted to have more insight into their presence on the retail floors at retailers around the country. And so a tailored tablet solution for their team to be able to check boxes, enter freeform text responses, and take pictures of displays and have that automatically uploaded to, to servers for analysis and review by their marketing team and their corporate headquarters.
was far easier than the process they, that they came to us with, which was very much spreadsheet based. You know, upload your spreadsheet to a server. Yeah. Take your photos, email those to a different address, you know, than somebody has to take the attachments and make sense of those. So the, the fact that that solution is really tailored for their needs mm-hmm.
is what I think all of the users within the organization really. . Yeah. It, it just, and the way I see it is that it just, those efficiencies, those add to those, add to the profitability, like over time, some for them immediately, but, you know, labor cost efficiencies tracking the data, all of that. I mean that, those are all big wins.
Yep. Exactly. Let’s spend some time on the on the Enter Enterprise side of things and really what you’re doing there. So what does it look like to work with these large enterprise clients? Yeah, so this has become really a majority of our business now, and it’s, it’s really fun to work with the enterprise clients, as I mentioned, spanning the Davids and the Goliaths.
These are the Goliaths and the thing that’s unique about them. On, on one hand, they can be a little slower to move and, and be able to operate. They have legacy systems that they’re dealing with that a startup who’s starting from scratch does not have to carry with them. They have an IT team that usually has a pretty big backlog.
Of work that they need to do for the organization, and they may lack experience with the latest technology. The organization itself wants to stay relevant. They wanna fight off these newcomers. We’re trying to break into the space, but the advantage they have, the tremendous advantage, I think, is that they have those customers, you know, in some cases, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of customers, they have budget and they have patient.
and all of those things work in, in their favor at that end of the scale to be able to bring something to market where they’ve taken into account feedback from those customers and they have the, the patience and the budget to be able to iterate on solutions that we create. So what I mean by that is we’re gonna produce something as a first version of their product.
And customers are gonna react. They’re hopefully mostly positive, but they’ll have constructive criticism as well. And it’s important to have the time and the budget to be able to refine the product and address those concerns that people are raising, so that at, at some point you’ve now given them exactly what they need in the market what they’re asking for.
So that’s, that’s a different kind of fun at that end of the. . Yeah, I can see that. So versus the maybe the funded startup where they’re, you know, just starting to get that client base or maybe the small business that has a different kind of objective overall. Possibly. And then the enterprise level, they have the, they have the data, they have the clients and they have the customers and quantity.
And now to me, it, it sounds to me like you have the, you have the opportunity to maybe move the needle a little bit more cuz there’s more there to work with as well. That’s right. . Yeah, it’s awesome. So I want to, let’s we’re not gonna spend too much time on the book today, but we, we do need to, we do need to a touch on it for a second or two.
Sure. Because as I mentioned before, we’ll be bringing you back on the show when we have the book out and live. But high level, I know we’re still in editing and not holding you to this, but what are some of the things that you, that you plan to propose in the upcoming book launch? Well, as we talked about, I’ve, I’ve had a, a great business education two business degrees.
At at heart. I’m a developer, a software developer, but that formal business education has been really helpful for me. But no matter how much classroom education we get, I think you can probably back me up on this, Adam, that we can count on learning a lot more lessons when we try to put that learning into practice in our own.
So I plan to share my lessons. Some of them are entertaining, some of ’em are painful so that readers can learn from my mistakes. . Yeah. And, and my, and I I love that you’re willing to do that because then it won’t be just me picking on myself about my, my mistakes , like mo, like most of this show in our, in our books are about, at least for what I write in them, is really the hope is, is that we, if we can share, you know, genuine stories and let people know how, what it’s really like that obviously you wanna inspire others to maybe pursue their own dreams but also to educate them on maybe some of the, the bumps along the.
So that if you’re either going through ’em, Hey, you’re not alone. And if you, you’ve been through ’em, you, we can relate for sure. So they’re, they’re going to happen. But the I guess the tale to tell is that you, you’ll get through them and, and they do make for entertaining stories at the other side.
Wonderful. Well, Brad it has been great having you on the show today and getting to know, know more about Inspiring Apps, of course, and about your journey along the way. If somebody’s watching this or listening to this and they want to follow up and inquire about Inspiring Apps or to, to connect with your content, I mean, what’s the best way for them to.
Our website’s probably the number one source, so you can find [email protected] and you can find us as inspiring apps on LinkedIn and other social platforms as well. Fantastic. And we’ll, we’ll put all of that, that those links and things like that in the show notes so that our audience can just click on the links and head right on over.
And speaking of the audience, if this is your first time with Mission Matters or connecting with an episode we’re all about bringing on business owners, entrepreneurs and executives, and having them share their mission the reason behind their mission, really. Them motivated and fired up out there to go into the marketplace and make a difference.
If that’s the type of content that sounds interesting or fun or exciting to you, we encourage you hit that subscribe button because we have many more mission-based individuals coming up on the line and we don’t want you to miss a thing. And now, Brad, until the next time’s been awesome having you on the show.
Thanks again for coming on. Thank you so much.