Neelan Choksi on Tasktop’s VC Round and Austin “Growing Like a Weed”

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funding for that. The problem that we’re solving now, connecting the entire village that it takes to build software—as software is becoming more and more the basis for competitive advantage because of mobile, cloud, all these other macro factors—we felt the timing was right. The business justified the funding.

We needed to grow faster. To be a bootstrapped company, you have to be incredibly disciplined. Our people have to scream about 10 times for me to say, OK, let’s think about a hiring plan for your department. We now felt it made sense to go a little faster, maybe listen on the second scream.

X: There have been a lot of VC raises by Austin tech companies in the last month.

NC: Just the growth in the investment community in Austin in the last three to four years has been tremendous. You have Capital Factory, Techstars, Tech Ranch at the incubator level. Austin Ventures has been around forever, and Silverton Partners. LiveOak Venture Partners is more recent. There’s been a ton of growth in just the number of investor options. The angel network has also taken on a life of its own and can help companies get to a certain stage. There’s more supply of money.

Incubators are creating a scenario where there’s a lot of startups being kicked off. The incubators are helping them become much more savvy, helping them find a business model, some angel investment. Full disclosure: I am a mentor at Capital Factory.

On the macro level, things are pretty good right now. Austin is growing like a weed. The energy that startups bring, as an entrepreneur and a participant in the Austin community at large, it’s good for me.

X: What are the practical benefits to your clients in using Tasktop’s products?

NC: The best example is a client, a large bank, told us they are saving 20 minutes a day per software person. If you think about work they’re doing [before Tasktop], e-mails, spreadsheets, copy and pasting from one system to another, it’s the work they hate the most. The simple measurement of 20 minutes per day is nice. But the bigger value is when something doesn’t get done [an update to the software, for example], what do you lose? In the agile world, two-week and one-week iterations in delivering software are very common. In that world, if the tester doesn’t see the e-mail that a requirement has changed, and they are still testing against the old requirement, that’s a software failure. With our product, the right information is at the right fingertips at the right time.

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