Mike Morris is Founder and Owner of RecDesk, a Middletown, CT-based startup that has developed a cloud-based recreation management software solution. Morris told Innovation Destination Hartford about some of the startup’s challenges early on and the company’s plans for the future.
IDH: Were you entrepreneurial early on?
MORRIS: Not particularly. I did the usual stuff like snow shoveling and lawn cutting, but I wasn’t about to get of bed at 4:00 a.m. to deliver newspapers or anything like that. My dad ran his own business for a period of time later in his life and I’m sure that had some influence on me, but I didn’t recognize that at the time.
IDH: Why are you in this type of business?
MORRIS: The “type” of business—web software delivered as a service (SaaS)—is a natural one for me as that’s what I did professionally for years as a contract developer for various corporations in the Hartford area.
It’s the perfect fit for me in that it requires a balance of technical knowhow and creativity. The technical part sort of satisfies that left brain desire to think about things logically and analytically—and then manifest those thoughts into working software.
The creative part—including aesthetic design, workflow design, and determination of product road map—is just as important to me and something I really enjoy. If I’m good at anything, it’s being able to comfortably move back and forth between the technical and creative part of product development to build software that meets customer needs in the simplest way possible.
IDH: What’s the biggest challenge your company has faced?
MORRIS: Early on it was just gaining traction in a very “noisy vertical. At last count, I think we had at least a dozen direct competitors. Over the past 18 months or so we’ve definitely made great strides and have found a great product-market fit.
Now, the challenges center on scaling the business and continuing to build out the platform to better serve our clients. For me, it means making sure I have the right team and processes in place to handle the growth we expect to see in the next two to three years. Things we could “wing” when we only had 50 or 100 clients may not be the case today.
IDH: Have you relied on any of Connecticut’s startup resources help to shape your business?
MORRIS: Yes. In 2015 we took advantage of the Small Business Incubator Grant Program (SBIP), a program provided by the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT) in partnership with the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) that helps fund startup technology-based companies working out of Connecticut incubator facilities. It’s a great way to get out in front of the people who would want to use the RecDesk platform.
The investment has more than paid for itself and we’ll be going back to all of those conferences this year as well. More recently, we’ve taken advantage of the DECD’s Small Business Express Program (EXP) loan/grant program to accelerate hiring and get out in front of the scaling piece of the business. We’ve already met our hiring goals related to that grant and will probably exceed by year’s end. All in all, both the SBIP and DECD EXP programs have enabled RecDesk to grow and hire faster than would have been possible without them.
IDH: What are your company’s future goals?
MORRIS: Our immediate goals are to continue to build out the RecDesk platform to better meet and exceed existing customer needs while allowing us to perhaps start servicing larger municipalities and related verticals.
One of the real tricks to doing that well is figuring out what does and doesn’t go into the software. Although intuitively it seems to make sense to add most features customers request, that makes for really bad software over time. You end up with a solution that’s cumbersome and not very user-friendly.
One of the most important things I do on a daily basis is figuring out how to prioritize what gets done next and more importantly, what doesn’t get done at all.
I expect both installed customer base and revenues to grow by about 70% year-over-year for the next three to four years. This will provide the momentum and resources to keep building out what we believe is the easiest and most user-friendly recreation management solution on the market.
I don’t want to think too much further out than that at the moment. I just know that if the growth is managed well and we continue to take care of our customers the way we have been, the future of RecDesk is really bright and we’ll continue to be successful as a company and have really passionate customers who love our product.
IDH: In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Learn more about RecDesk at http://recdesk.com.