Goalscape Founder Shares His Business Insights
Goalscape is a promising young app that runs on the Adobe AIR platform. AIR has a plethora of interesting apps, yet Goalscape stands out among the crowd for business nerds because of its goal achieving focus.
In my recent review of Goalscape, I illustrated how the program is a a fascinating example of how beautifully designed software can help a person shift paradigm, change mindset, and become better at achieving their desired outcome. I think that, as simple as the software may be (it's still early in development), the way they have visualized a 'radial paradigm' of project management is a true innovation.
So who are the visionaries behind this innovative software?
I had the opportunity to get down to business with Goalscape Founder, Marcus Baur. In the interview session below, Marcus reveals some great insights about their software development experience so far.
How has your experience been in developing on the Adobe AIR platform?
Its been great. That's what OOP is all about. Not building everything from scratch, but instead building on a solid foundation. We have always aimed to provide a trusted management system that works seamlessly on all three major platforms - PC - Mac and web browsers. Adobe Flash/Flex/AIR was our only chance. It means that we depend to some degree on Adobe, but they seem to be a good bunch to depend on.
What advantages has the AIR platform provided for you and your team? I assume placement in the AIR Marketplace has provided lots of new leads, yes?
The biggest advantage is the cross platform reach. We have a large codebase that is used for the desktop and the web version (beta being launched these days). And the code for MAC and PC is identical of course. The marketplace did not make that much of a difference to us to be honest. Goalscape is a bit of a sleeping beauty. People who go to the marketplace might look more for free gadgets than a strategic planning tool like Goalscape.
How about the disadvantages of developing on the AIR platform?
You are dependent on the runtime. Printing, native application support, pdf-creation (page breaks) and some minor bugs have been issues. Most of them will be fixed in the upcoming Air 2.0 release. But the disadvantages are surely outweighed by the advantages. In the near future we will also start to work with Fireworks and Flash Catalyst, to refine our mockup and design process. We know of no other platform that provides such rich and versatile tools.
Is this your first software product, and how has the experience been so far? What key advice to you have for entrepreneurs looking to build their first software product?
Goalscape is our first product - it's what we created the company for. We have been through three versions - one Java mockup, one AS2 study and now the first public version. Its been a pretty bumpy ride to be honest. Plenty of setbacks - but I guess what you learn in top level sports (in our case olympic sailing) is to never give up. Defining a meaningful goal and sticking to it is much more important than skills and talent. I believe there is abundance of talent in our world, but a lack of vision. So goals come first - if they make sense - all the rest will follow.
If we had to give any advice I guess it would be: don't think it will be easy. Double or triple your estimate. Have a clear goal but be agile about achieving it...
I am an educated architect and the parallels to real world architecture are amazing. Bad software is like a bad building - it's just sad to be around it. We aim to make the user-experience joyful. That's a tall order, but that's what we are aiming for.
What is the story behind the founding partners, and how did you guys first go about getting this from an idea concept to a functional prototype?
We (Marcus, Richard, Emmett and Malav) have all met in the international olympic sailing scene. Emmett has been my Coach at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. I pitched the idea to the other guys in 2005 and and we started a little side project. I actually worked with hand drawn Goalscapes in preparation for the 2000 Olympics. I came up with the graph to have a complete overview of all my challenges. I still know no better way of doing this. Its simple, its holistic, revealing, truthful and even fun at times.
Last year we decided to incorporate and to give it our best effort. Emmett is the only educated software developer. We have built a distributed development team. Our developers live in Slovakia, Romania, Australia, New Zealand and Germany. Amazing how distance is just no issue any more. You collaborate with people half a world away yet you only need to go to your home office to be at work.
We still do some coaching and consulting on the side, which is great since we get to use Goalscape in a real world context.
What is your business financing strategy; have you received any investments of outside capital or has it been entirely self funded? Are you going to pursue angel investors, or perhaps VC investment in the near future ?
We have been mostly bootstrapped but raised a little money last year. Part of the reason to incorporate in Germany was to get some friendly governmental funding. Germany is a great place for that. We also got some money from a commercial bank and a government bank to back it up. We are not aiming for more funding. Too much external funding and we fear the risk of externalizing our vision.
In closing, I asked Marcus of Goalscape if there was anything else he would like to share. He said he'll get back to me once they crack the 100,000 customer mark. Here's hoping the Goalscape reaches that mark soon!