First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Robin Warren: We are all doing well, thank you. Everyone is working and healthy. It is strange times, and we’ve not seen as much of the wider family as we’d like. But we have been able to meet up at times in a safe way. Let’s hope it’s back to normal soon.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Corrello.
Robin Warren: I worked as a software developer and team lead for development teams for about 15 years. I had always wanted to start my own small bootstrapped software product business and 6 years ago took the jump. We had some savings built up, and my first child’s birth gave me the push to start working on my own business full time. The first product I built was Corrello Agile Dashboards, which made enough money for me to keep working full-time and start assembling a small team.
How does Corrello innovate?
Robin Warren: We try to be quite collaborative within the team. We have one full-stack developer, a designer, and myself on the product side of things. Often I am proposing new products or improvements to existing ones based on conversations with customers or other research. I will keep those proposals quite loose and be clear about the problem we are addressing rather than pushing a specific solution. We then discuss options, and once we have decided what we want to build next, we can flesh out the ideas. Our designer then starts mocking up ideas which he and I collaborate on, iterating towards the final designs and UX. After that, we get to implement those plans and find further options for innovation as the plans become a reality.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Robin Warren: Initially, we started losing more customers than usual (higher churn). But on looking at those who were cancelling, most had been inactive for a while and would be expected to have churned in the coming year anyway. We offered some of those customers discounts where they were in Covid impacted businesses, such as restaurants. Once that higher churn passed, we saw some steady growth, but nothing unusual.
We also launched a new product, Blue Cat Reports for Trello, in April, just as the pandemic was gaining momentum. That was slightly strange! As it is built on top of Trello, we were seeing a lot of teams moving to remote working and adopting Trello. Blue Cat Reports was then something they added to their Trello boards to get the reporting they needed.
As countries locked down, the team here switched to working from home. 2 of us had been doing that sometimes anyway, and we are a fully remote team. So the switch from office to home was pretty seamless.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Robin Warren: We had planned to hire a customer support person earlier in the year and put that on hold. We are going to make the hire now, though, so this was put on hold rather than cancelled altogether. Some other projects got dropped as we prioritized work that would be revenue-generating, but for the most part, we have now started going back to those projects and implementing them anyway.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Robin Warren: Badly? I try to keep in touch with other entrepreneurs, and seeing others going through the same thing makes you feel less alone, at least. I try to keep exercising regularly and watch my diet. And making time for the family as much as possible. Earlier in the year, I cut my hours to about 1/2 time to help out more with the kids when they were both home all day. That did add stress as keeping on top of the business in the time I had was tricky, thus increasing my hours a bit when I could have helped there. Making decisions to focus on revenue-generating work helped reduce stress as we knew the business would sustain all of us. Ultimately we’ve done OK during Covid, so any stress/anxiety is a lot less than others feel, I am sure.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Robin Warren: There are a few other companies building reporting tools for Trello. Our plan to stay in the game is to continue to listen to the market and build what they are telling us they need.
Your final thoughts?
Robin Warren: Let’s hope everyone’s businesses bounce back in 2021, and maybe some new learnings (like more remote working) make us stronger in the future.