"We had about 30 alpha users and a buggy product that didn't do much of anything," he laughed.
Chris and Dave, the TSF guys, saw something in that product, as well as the team and the plan, and it turns out they were onto something, because today, a whole eight days before the TSF Fall Showcase, Brevado is launching their Timeline App and beginning the conversion process (from freemium to free trial) for over 700 beta users.
Brevado's product is a no-explanation-necessary timeline tracker for freelancers and small-to-medium sized shops to communicate progress to clients. In the spirit of excellent customer service, avoiding miscommunication, and managing expectations, Brevado's timeline gives real time updates automatically as progress is made on tasks and projects.
I know the value here. The last company I started was a project-based services framework for custom software development. I got so good at Microsoft Project that I hated it more than any individual in the Triangle area. And it was so bad at communicating progress back to the client, that I came up with my own product to do that (one that was buggy and didn't do much of anything).
As my company grew to nine employees and over 20 clients, I spent more time communicating than working, and since communication is rarely billable, this meant all that time communicating came from my very limited pool of free time.
So Brevado's product might have meant my life would have sucked a lot less.
Before Brevado, Zafiropoulos had also started a services firm, for IT, and the same communication crunch, as well as the issues that arose from lack of communication (i.e. pissed-off clients), was the inspiration for Brevado.
"I would hold my client's hand every step of the way," he recalled. This ate into his time, which ate into his revenue, and also prevented him from growth.
"It's a choice between giving excellent customer service and not having time to build the business, or going the other way and getting new customers but giving existing customers mediocre customer service," he said.
And unlike Basecamp and other full-blown project management tools, Brevado is meant to be used without a learning curve, no training videos for customers to watch before they're ready to use and understand what they're being told.
Moving forward, Zafiropoulos feels like Brevado has solidified the timeline aspect and is ready to move to data analysis. This means analyzing how customers use the timeline and produce actionable ways for service providers to interact with their customers before a potential communication breakdown.
Although they're not raising money yet, this is likely the catalyst for them to raise on. But for the moment, they've got beta users to convert to customers.