Link To Guest Website: Quickbase

Title: “No-Code App Development That Any Business Can Utilize”
Guest: Ed Jennings – Quickbase
Interviewer: Jonathan Freedman – MAGE LLC

Click here to read the transcript

Jonathan (0s):
Welcome back to radio entrepreneurs. I’m Jonathan Freedman. And our next guest up in our virtual studio is ed Jennings, CEO of QuickBase. Welcome to radio entrepreneurs.

Ed (9s):
Yeah. Thanks Jonathan. Glad to be here today.

Jonathan (11s):
Excellent. Tell us a little bit about QuickBase to start, and then we’ll talk a little bit about your background and we’ve coined a phrase for you for today. We’ll save that for a little later.

Ed (19s):
That sounds good. Sounds good. Yeah. So QuickBase, actually, I don’t know. As many people would notice that we were a division of Intuit for many years, for about 16 years and about four years ago, we were spun off as an independent business. So we’re in the low code space and specifically it’s a platform for business technologists, non-developers non coders to write business applications. And so we have millions of production apps run by half of the fortune 500 all written by people with no development or coding background. Yet they’re doing claims processing. They’re doing, you know, retail location identification, they’re doing critical processes in finance, HR, et cetera. So

Jonathan (59s):
Well, so really interesting. So, so I guess what they are is subject matter experts within their own industries or fields and have an idea or a concept that an app needs to be developed is that generally the theme, and then they use your platform to, to, I guess, pull the tools together to be able to develop. Is that, is that what is happening?

Ed (1m 19s):
Yeah. Yeah. Good, good, good question. I mean, what’s, what’s most common is, and I think that the last few years have been, been driving a lot. I mean, every business is digitizing and again, an old overused expression, everybody’s becoming a software company everyone’s trying to automate them and pandemic just accelerated all of that, but it also just shined a bright light. There aren’t enough developers. I mean, like that is an acute problem. It has been made more intense and obvious over the last few years. And so most of the people building applications are within companies. They’re, they’re, they’re tolerating an Excel process. That’s being emailed around to do accounts receivable there. They’re dealing with a quality control process where they put something in like a Smartsheet and they’re trying to keep tabs tabular updates of different quality metrics there.

Ed (2m 5s):
They’re dealing with these sort of manual laborious. They might even be digital, but sort of email centric things and saying, there’s got to be a better way. There’s gotta be a faster way. This is making my job, not that fun. How can I, how could I automate this? How could we just Emily like eliminate me doing this manually every day. And so that’s most of our applications being built by people exactly right in the business. They know what they need to fix. They know how they want to fix it. They’ve just never had the tools and they don’t know how to use a Microsoft power apps or, you know, some sort of coding language because those are meant for developers. And so this is where this platform is really powerful.

Jonathan (2m 40s):
So, so tell us a little bit at a high level in terms of how somebody engages with QuickBase, how that process sort of rolls out. I think I heard very clearly you say they don’t need the, the development skills or technological skills. They just need to be able to articulate probably, and, and map out that process is that generally what’s needed.

Ed (3m 0s):
Yeah. Yeah. Great question. So yes, it’s a complete SAS platform and all of the complexity is hidden in the behind it. I mean, it is a in-memory relational database with a broad infrastructure with complex business logic sitting in AWS environment. They don’t need to see any of that. They just need to think about a process they want to fix. And some people start literally with a spreadsheet and they’ll maybe they’re keeping some sort of inventory or they’re managing the facilities. They’re doing some sort of a logistics and supply chain. We do a lot of work around that. They literally can import spreadsheets and will automatically generate, you know, a web front end, the business logic, the entire database, and behind, behind that other people think you mentioned process and sort of a flow.

Ed (3m 44s):
They, a lot of people like to work in tools like lucid lucid diagram. You can literally take a lucid diagram, imagine swim lanes and different steps in handoffs and triggers and decisions that have to be made and notifications that get triggered. If you’ve mapped that you literally can generate a QuickBase application directly from that lucid diagram. So it’s really, can you think of the problem? Can you identify what you want it to look like? We can help you build an application to do that.

Jonathan (4m 12s):
And, and what’s typically the timeframe. I know a typical may be hard, but you know, a company engages with you and then you, you know, let’s say they provide the lucid chart and you know, the process flow, et cetera. What’s, what’s the typical time from engagement to they’re actually using an application.

Ed (4m 32s):
Yeah. So we’ll make people, usually we have free trials. Like people just go to our website,, set up a free trial and try to build some apps. We have a library of thousands of pre-built apps around really common use cases, project management, inventory CRM, for a small company, you name it so they can start from something like that. So usually they can get going in days. Usually what we’ll do that is take them through sort of our certification process. We can make, we don’t even call them developers. We call them builders. We can make highly lethal builders in terms of like production sophisticated production apps. Usually in weeks. Th th depending on Mick was a great example. We, a lot of the states originally had signed on to work with one of the big four to, to build apps for one first step, the equipment, so safety equipment, and then later apps that were supposedly they were going to be able to license, to distribute vaccines, both schedule have people show up, you know, like sort of a QC code kind of thing.

Ed (5m 30s):
A lot of that didn’t work. And so we were getting states like Texas apps, sort of specked built and live to do all of their sort of scheduling through their web app to location identification, to like generate for a mobile app, a QC code that they could show up with automatically scheduled a follow up deal with people in person and facilities and their home that was built in less than a month for something as significant as the state of Texas. So it, it is, it’s usually speed that we’re competing on.

Jonathan (6m 0s):
It is remarkable. And I think a lot of people, you know, when you cite those examples specifically go, aha. There was somebody behind all this because there’s no way the state could have executed it, you know? And you know, obviously a lot of moving parts, see it’s 350 million people a while we only know maybe 175 million, still a lot of people move through a process and, you know, have a digitized and automated in some fashion. So ed, let’s talk a little bit about you and, and what you bring, you, you joined QuickBase, so we’ve turned, we’ve dubbed you the accelerator. You’re a guy who works with companies that have evolved and developed and now want to go up that acceleration curve. So you’ve done that before in your career.

Jonathan (6m 40s):
You’ve, you’ve worked with other companies.

Ed (6m 43s):
Yeah. I’ve been, I’ve been blessed to work for some amazing Boston area companies, you know, really cut my teeth early days of my career and spent several years at PTC and really learn what, what a big scaling sort of like high growth company can look like. But then some since then, you know, spent some time in cybersecurity company called Vericode. And it was on a part of a great team that grew that from about 20 million to about a hundred when it was told to CA and then following that mind cast grew that from about 80 to about 480, took it public along the way. And now QuickBase, you know, we’re a couple of hundred million, but aspirations to be and have our growth curve to be much bigger company. And so I actually doubled the teenager.

Ed (7m 23s):
I don’t know why. And I have this image I oftentimes use of the movie super bad, or that kind of Rite of passage, crazy teenagers and, and coming in and, and usually building on an amazing foundation, you know, a great product, but a business as to go from tens to maybe hundreds of sales people go from being in a country or two to being global. You go from being, you know, maybe a couple of distribution partners to a bunch, maybe through development or acquisition, go from a single product company to a portfolio. That, that step is one I love it’s one. I think I can kind of help a company with

Jonathan (7m 58s):
And R and a really important phase, obviously, in terms of scale and development, just because you do it once doesn’t mean you have the ability to replicate it. And I think as you point out without those foundational elements in place, but it’s, it’s one thing to have the foundation. It’s another thing to be able to replicate and scale it. And you seem as though a guy that, that has that background, that ability, what do you see for entrepreneurs? Just, you know, we had like impart lessons learned, what do you see as sort of the common building blocks and the companies that you’ve been involved with and, and why they’ve been successful at, at being able to scale? Because we all know for every company that has achieved success in scaling, there’s probably a hundred that haven’t.

Ed (8m 37s):
Yup. Yup. Well, I, I, I think the premise starts with, there is a compelling, differentiated technology and, and it’s an, a market that has some size to it, you know, like, no matter how well you run a business, if neither of those facts are true, there’s always so much you can do. You know what I mean? I think there’s, there’s those take those as a, given three things. I think three things that I’d see every time, typically the core team, it’s not totally replaced, but usually there are people that want and can go to another level that can really elevate as leaders and start to really empower others. Others want to really have their hands on a lot and they make for better entrepreneurs or they make for better small company because they’re in the center like a hub and spoke others, think more like system thinkers.

Ed (9m 24s):
And so I think a lot of it is usually finding those on the team that want to kind of elevate to a system approach and those who don’t. And so, and finding out, bringing some, some talent from the outside so that the team dynamic is usually a big part of it. And then the second is strategically, ironically, almost every time we’re broadening things like go to market or countries, but we’re narrowing the market strategy. Like it’s usually getting rid of the ancillary, you know, they did

Jonathan (9m 54s):
Well, all things to all people approach.

Ed (9m 56s):
Yes, I I’m cast as a good example. We, we, we were doing archiving, we were doing a range of different sort of cyber things. And this was sort of when really the advanced threats against email were emerging. And it was like, we’re making email safer. They already had just come up with the tag where like, that’s all that matters. If we could do that really well, then that’s an amazing value prop to solve a critical problem that every single company is dealing with. So, so it’s a lot of times it’s narrowing. I QuickBase we’re going through the same journey. We, you can build apps and across businesses for a range of things, but we’re seeing people managing really big, messy, complex projects where you got to connect different systems and get control of those people in construction, like Suffolk constructions, consistently two great builders in the Boston area, building one Dalton and other projects like that.

Ed (10m 47s):
Intel building semiconductor, fabs. I mean, we have a range of solar companies sort of rolling out solar across, you know, the United States, those kind of big, messy, complex projects. That’s a really hard problem. And we’re saying of all the ones we solve, we do that really well. So we’re sort of narrowing on, you know, get people sort of, you know, let them connect with them, control at them a visibility in that. So when narrowing those projects, so the second thing is usually having really getting at it. This is not something that I’d ever bring. It’s more about uncovering people always know it. You come into an organization, I’m usually getting there, they have these ideas. It’s just a lot of noise has been added and it’s like

Jonathan (11m 25s):
Putting it all together.

Ed (11m 27s):
It’s a signal to the signal. And then thirties is go to market. There’s always opportunity to really think more structurally about how do you grow, go to market. I mean, so for me, and that’s just an area that I have a career and a lot of passion for. And so those, those are the three areas that I’ve usually been able to help a little bit.

Jonathan (11m 44s):
Excellent. Great, great advice. Great story summarizing, you know, make sure there’s a market for, to be able to scale and make sure you’ve got the right team for the right journey ahead, narrow the scope and provide laser focus on what problem you’re trying to solve and, and develop a good go to market strategy. I

Ed (12m 2s):

Jonathan (12m 5s):
Excellent stuff. Our guests on radio entrepreneurs has been ed Jennings, CEO of QuickBase ed. If people want to get in touch with you and learn more about QuickBase and its offerings or how to perhaps join the journey, what’s the, everyone’s always looking for good people Today. What’s the best way for people to reach out to you?

Ed (12m 22s):
Sure. So love to have people come visit and again, they can pry the product. They can learn more what we’re doing, but if other entrepreneurs and leaders want to talk to me about the journeys, I’ve got lots of scars. I’ve learned most things, the hard way to feel free to reach out either way. Love, love to talk to folks.

Jonathan (12m 40s):
Excellent. It’s been a real pleasure and really appreciate you coming on entrepreneurs, radio entrepreneurs today.

Ed (12m 45s):
Thanks Jonathan. Take care.

Jonathan (12m 47s):
Excellent. We’ll be right back with another guest on radio entrepreneurs.

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