The BizSpark startup of the day is Agile Zen, based in the US. You will find below an interview with Nate Kohari, CTO of Agile Zen. All the best to them and congrats for being the startup of the day!
Interview with Nate Kohari, CTO of Agile Zen
Tell us who you are and your role in the company.
My title is actually Chief Technical Officer, which sounds a lot fancier than it is. I’m really just the chief geek. My job is taking care of everything tech — our software and that infrastructure that supports it.
What did you do before creating your company?
Before we decided to take the plunge and launch Zen, I was a professional software developer for several years, first using C++ and PHP, then .NET (C#). My latest job was with Telligent Systems, where I was a developer on the Community Server (now called Telligent Enterprise) team. I’ve also been involved in a few open source efforts, the most successful of which is Ninject, a dependency injection framework for .NET applications.
How do you feel being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?
It’s always great to be recognized. We think what we do is pretty cool, and it’s very motivating to know others agree!
What is your company’s mission?
We want to offer a simple, flexible, and cost-effective way to manage work, making our customers more effective at their jobs. If something makes our customers better at what they do, or makes their lives easier, that’s what we want to be working on.
How did you get the idea for your company?
In my tenure as a software developer I used quite a few different project management tools, and all of them seemed to be overpriced, bloated with unnecessary features, and difficult to use. In early 2008, I started learning about lean manufacturing and the application to software. My wife (and now co-founder) Nicole is working on completing her Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology, and we realized this project created an interesting overlap in our skill sets.
Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?
In late 2009, we were awarded a $25,000 grant from the Innovation Fund, an early-stage grant fund created as a joint effort between some local universities. We mainly plan to use this money to fund advertising efforts in 2010. Right now, we’re still focusing on developing our core product, so we’re not actively seeking any additional funding.
How many employees do you have? How many developers?
Right now, we have no employees other than myself and Nicole, and we’re both co-owners. I’m the only developer, and Nicole handles the day-to-day operations of the business.
Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring and where?
We’re not currently hiring, but we might consider it sometime in the next 18 months. We are, however, looking into the technology to clone ourselves so we can be in two places at once.
Which platform are you building on? Why?
Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/internet area?
The past few years of software have been all about social networking, collaboration, and moving more and more functionality from the desktop to the Internet. In 2010, I expect to see an increased focus on real time interaction (through technologies like XMPP) and a continued focus on mobile computing. People have developed an appetite for information, available from anywhere, in real time, and technology is just starting to be able to meet their demands.
What do you think about the BizSpark Program?
BizSpark has been invaluable for us. We launched the company without any outside capital, so without BizSpark, we simply would not have been able to use .NET technology in our startup. I was able to use my already-developed .NET skills to develop our product, allowing us get to market much faster than if I would have had to learn another technology stack.
Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?
If you’re interested in entrepreneurship, don’t say "I’m going to try to start a company someday." I did that for years, and I can tell you that "someday" never comes. If you have an idea for a startup, come up with a plan to develop your product and sell it.
Who’s your role model?
Anyone who tries to speak more through their actions than words.
What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview
That they should try out Agile Zen! Just kidding. If anyone takes away just one thing, make it this: you have an idea for a product, just build it!