Everyone needs an app these days. Whether it’s a web app, Facebook app or Mobile App, without an app your company seems behind in the times. People love showing off features and making their apps and presence look sexy, but before you can get to that, someone needs to do the grunt work. That’s where Reno startup ShortStack comes in.
ShortStack was created by Jim Belosic and Doug Churchill while Belosic was running a successful web design company. ShortStack was actually a toolset his own in house people developed to make some of the backend grunt work on design quicker. The pair quickly realized they were onto something and rather than just using ShortStack in house, they could offer it as a DIY software as a service, and make some money while helping business owners.
The response they got when the first rolled the product out was more than they ever expected. They amassed 80,000 users in year one and added another 100,000 users the following year. Now ShortStack alone is a multi million dollar business.
ShortStack allows business owners to create all kinds of different apps on a variety of platforms including the web, Facebook and mobile. It’s being used to create contests, sweepstakes, newsletter signups and integrations with Instagram YouTube and Twitter.
Belosic isn’t a flyby night developer either. He gets design and social media and contributes regularly to Mashable, Social Media Examiner, CMS Wire, PR Daily, and Smart Brief. He was also named the Technology Entrepreneur of the Year by the Nevada Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. That’s not such an easy feat with Las Vegas’ thriving tech scene just miles down the road.
Making the move from in house agency tool to SaaS wasn’t easy. ” It was a challenge because we needed to continue to do both businesses at the same time. ShortStack was bootstrapped so we needed revenue from the agency to support the new endeavor. The biggest challenge was figuring out how to double the workload with essentially half the revenue. It was a huge balancing act, but luckily we had the luxury of a product that was making money from the beginning. Without that early revenue, we would have had to look for investors. ” Belosic told nibletz.com in an interview.
After several years at the helm of a profitable web design business, taking the plunge into the startup world wasn’t an easy task either. Reno’s startup scene isn’t nearly what it is in neighboring Las Vegas.
“The startup culture in Reno is pretty non-existent and haphazardly organized. People get good ideas, get really excited, and recruit other people to work with them … and then they just burn out. Or businesses do really well and are too busy to contribute to the startup culture. There’s not a lot of steady startup activity here and there’s not enough support for regular continued efforts.” Belosic said.
But raising a startup in Reno has it’s benefits as well. “The cost of doing business is a huge advantage. Nevada has no state income tax and the business tax climate is extremely beneficial. Business licenses are inexpensive and the cost of talent is inexpensive. Rent is also insanely cheap. When it comes to my monthly expenses, rent comes in at number 18 on my expenses list. The quality of life is also an advantage for my employees. Housing is inexpensive and there’s no traffic. Reno is also close to awesome outdoor activities like skiing, hiking, fishing, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, hunting, etc., so it’s a desirable place to live and raise a family.”
Bootstrapping it to revenue probably explains why Belosic is such a fan of Atlanta startup Mail Chimp’s founder Ben Chestnut.
“I have a big man-crush on Ben Chestnut from MailChimp. I read his blog regularly and feel like we are in a very similar industry. We’ve been through a lot of the same stuff when it comes to our previous experiences. I was reading about their company history and realized that they too began as an agency. The MailChimp platform was created as an internal tool at first, but was later released to the public. I feel like every time I have a question, I can read Ben’s blog and he’s either had that same problem or offers some insight that is relevant to me.”
ShortStack now includes more than 40 tools and 70 templates, you can check it out for yourself at shortstack.com You can keep up with Belosic and Shortstack on Facebook