We had a great time at our first-ever advanced JobTracker training in Houston. As part of that event, I gave a short talk that included a little about Moraware’s history. We’ve made lots of mistakes along the way, and I’m sure every business does. Hopefully, we’ll keep learning.
Here are a couple of stories and lessons.
In 2002, my college buddy Ted started writing software for his brother’s countertop shop in central Florida. He and I were both working at venture-funded startups in the San Francisco bay area at the time, but hadn’t talked to each other in years. I think the last time we had actually seen each other was at my wedding.
We happened to meet for a beer the day he quit his job in early 2003 to start working on this software full time. I was totally infected by Ted’s enthusiasm, and I asked if I could help out. Here’s part of his email reply in February of 2003.
I don’t have to think about it at all — I would love some help. This week I have made some good progress and have gotten even more excited about the whole project, but I just wish I could code faster. So if you have some spare time to pitch in, that could help a lot. (Unless it turns out that you’re a really horrible software engineer, but I guess that remains to be seen 🙂 )
I don’t think Ted expected me to quit my job shortly after, but we’ve had a great collaboration since then. It turns out that although I wasn’t “horrible” as a software engineer, that’s not the skill that Moraware needed from me at the time (or now). The product is only a portion of what it takes to build a company. Someone has to sell the product and support the product, too. I never realized how much I’d love doing sales and support.
Early success and mistakes
As you can imagine, the first year in business was pretty difficult. By the end of 2003, we had 5 customers! Although it was very modest, we had lots of confidence that we were on the right track. It’s funny now, but we knew so little about the industry that we went to our first stone trade show in 2004 – as a warm-up for what we thought was the real business, working with Corian fabricators.
We made lots of other mistakes along the way, but kept working on JobTracker over the next several years. Another major change to our business was in 2012, when we introduced CounterGo.
What’s interesting in retrospect about CounterGo is the lesson we learned about our future development. I remember at that first trade show we got asked about doing drawings, and my answer was “we’ll never do countertop drawings”. So, now I’m a lot less sure about what we will and won’t do in the future.
These days, about 1400 countertop companies use our software. Most of our customers are in the US & Canada, but, but we’ve also got customers in most other English-speaking countries.
Luckily, the problems that are on my mind these days are a consequence of that growth. I hope in a couple more years I’ll be able to look back on this time fondly, and draw some good conclusions. Hopefully without quite the same number of silly mistakes.
Want to know more? At Moraware, we make software for countertop fabricators. CounterGo is countertop drawing, layout, and estimating software. JobTracker is scheduling software that helps you eliminate the time you waste looking for job folders. RemnantSwap is a free place to buy and sell granite remnants with fabricators near you. We also sponsor StoneTalk, the podcast for countertop fabricators.