What is your current professional role and how did you get here?
I’m currently Managing Partner and Cofounder of Binary Formations. My role involves bringing to market our own consumer desktop and mobile apps that start from an idea to help solve a challenge in our own lives. My amazing husband, Kevin, is my business partner and our 9-year-old son helps make sure we don’t create any lame apps.
My parents always encouraged my siblings and me to seriously consider every opportunity. So when I had an opportunity to move cross country to work for an enterprise software company after college I jumped on it. It was a perfect fit for me. I wanted to travel and I didn’t want to code. It involved very limited coding and instead I was the product expert working with our customers before and after purchase. This included doing product demos, training, and implementations. These opportunities opened up others closer to the code – running customer support, building a quality assurance department, being responsible for product direction as product manager and more. I’m sincerely grateful for each opportunity, each of which has lead me to where we are now with Binary Formations. Kevin’s main focus is as our architect and developer while my main focus is on all the other important roles. Between the two of us we’ve brought a total of 16 desktop and mobile apps to market so far.
What was the first app you worked on and what did it do?
Home Inventory is our first app with Binary Formations. It’s still our most popular app and is what keeps the lights on. It’s a Mac app that makes it quick and easy to document important information about your belongings. It has two iOS helper apps, Home Inventory Remote Entry and Home Inventory Mobile Backup. Not exactly the most exciting topic but very practical and necessary.
Home Inventory helps you make sure you have the required details if you need to file an insurance claim for damage or destruction of property and it helps make sure you have enough personal property insurance. It helps you stay organized by knowing what you own and having one place to go to for details about your belongings – things like warranty info, purchase price, receipts, etc. It helps you track your collections – art, wine, kaleidoscopes, just about anything including cattle. Yes, one customer used it to track their cattle – not something we ever envisioned!
What went well? What could have gone better?
We’ve had many ups and downs in our 12 years as indies. It’s been fun and scary at the same time, just like a roller coaster ride!
We released a rewrite of Home Inventory in spring of 2013 that went extremely well. The feedback from our customers was excellent as well as from Apple. It’s a Mac App Store Editors’ Choice and is one of only a handful of Mac Apps that was picked as a Mac App Store Best of Year.
We decided to reinvest earnings into creating a chore management app to help our own family manage our household while at the same time with the goal of diversifying our revenue stream.
We launched Chore-inator at the Macworld 2014 conference and it was a huge success earning a Best of Show.
Unfortunately, even with great reviews we were never able to get the revenue model right and weren’t able to generate enough income to keep it going. We removed it from sale two years later and yes I cried. We talked more about the experience with Steve Young on the App Masters Podcast. We call it our most successful failure. It took our limited time and resources away from Home Inventory which was a costly lesson. Thankfully we have been able to recover and continue to focus on Home Inventory and a few much smaller apps.
At App Camp, we emphasize that it’s important to have interests outside of tech and to take breaks from looking at screens. What are some of your interests outside of tech? What do you do when you need to take a break from work?
I love to travel so if we have the time, a short trip to the beach or the mountains with my family is my favorite thing to do. We are 2 hours from the mountains, 2 hours from the beach, and 2 hours from Washington D.C. so we have lots of short trip options. Sometimes a short walk outside during the work day does wonders too.
Kevin and I both like to get involved in advocating for public policy, policies that impact our personal life and/or our business. We’ve been to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators while lobbying for patent reform to protect indie devs like us from patent trolls through the Application Developers Alliance. I’ve personally lobbied at the state level for religious freedom and life issues. Each of us has a voice and it’s important that our representatives hear from a diverse group of who they represent.
Why do you support the goals of App Camp?
Every opportunity you have in life is a stepping stone to something more. App Camp for Girls is a stepping stone for young women to tap into abilities and desires they may not have otherwise uncovered. I recently was a mentor for a local ‘learning to code’ event for middle school girls. The excitement the girls showed as they worked through the tasks and realized what they were able to accomplish was amazing. I saw the same excitement and enthusiasm when I sat in on an App Camp session at the Macworld conference in 2014. This was an opportunity they won’t soon forget and an opportunity for a future they may not have otherwise envisioned.
What do you recommend to those who want to support more diversity in tech?
Understand that true diversity comes from our unique experiences in life. It’s more than skin color, gender, or heritage. It’s about embracing experiences that are different from ours and together realizing how that experience can add to what we’re trying to accomplish. Do what you can to open doors for those with different experiences than yours, whether it’s within your company or through an outside organization such as App Camp for Girls.
How can technology be a force for good?
By each of us in the tech industry never forgetting that at both ends of each device, each line of code, each application, is a person.
Help more girls learn software development. Contribute to the App Camp For Girls Indiegogo fundraiser, get a cool perk, and enjoy the feeling of having helped the next generation of software developers.