Hot! Interview With Solo Creator

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Thrive Solo

Zincubate recently had the pleasure of speaking with Jerome Iveson of Solo ( the CEO and designer of both the frontend for this amazing project management app and the website.

Why Jerome? Well, one of the biggest things you may notice about Solo, is that it’s design is amazing, both gorgeous to look at – and to use. As Jerome mentions “inspiring.”

We agree.

Jerome handles design for ThriveSolo, a shop that makes the Solo App. While also CEO of the company, Jerome makes the app work visually for the customer.

When & why did you create Solo?

In 2008 I was working as a web designer but I had quite a few app ideas in my head. One of these ideas was Solo. As a company it was the market we were most comfortable with, so we went for it.

For a while I’d been looking for a project management app that worked well but had a bit of flair and style. A lot of apps kinda left me cold design-wise. We did a little research and it backed up what we thought – that the creative market wanted functional but beautiful web apps. We raised funding in late 2008 and started programming in early 2009 so all-in-all it took about a year to get Solo to market.

How did you start Thrive?  What was the process like?

As I designer I wanted to bring a strong design ethos to the web apps we wanted to build. So the process of creating the company was pretty smooth; we knew what we wanted to do. Saying that, the process of building Solo wasn’t as smooth as we’d have liked!

How many users do you currently have?

Just over 1000 paying users and growing.

Where are you located?

We are located in Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of the UK. Our studio is based inside the original George Stephenson workshops. For those who don’t know; Stephenson invented the worlds first steam locomotive ‘The Rocket’.

What role does competition play in your day-to-day operations?  What role do competitors play in your decisions as far as your apps?

Day-to-day at the scale we are at the moment, our competition doesn’t really come into the equation. We are busy driving forward; gaining traction and doing what we need to do.

ThriveSolo DashboardBeing that Basecamp seems to be the 800 lb. gorilla in web based project management software, can you discuss what you like/don’t like about 37 signals software, and how Thrive Solo is differentiated?

At a higher planning level we do keep an eye on what our competitors are doing. As a whole we tend to put more credence in what our users are saying.

We definitely don’t try to think about the size of Bascamp too much! I’ve used it in the past and it has solid functionality but is maybe a little uninspiring. I’ve always thought that 37 Signals’ overall ethos and their book ‘Getting Real’ motivated quite a few designers to take the plunge and develop web apps. In some respects though, I think it also inadvertently encouraged people to copy their visual style. I’d like to think we stayed away from that and tried to find a unique aesthetic. I think that’s what will keep us different.

What has been the most surprising thing about running Thrive Solo?

The amount of great feedback we get. It’s really great to see users who really buy into our product and champion it for us.

What frustrates you most about the web software space?

Payment processing especially Paypal.

Where do you see yourself – in 1 year?  In 5 years?

In 1 year I’d like to be sitting here with a healthy user base for Solo and our latest project Studio (the multiple user version of Solo) successfully launched. Obviously I think mobile is a really important area. We really want to get an amazing level of synergy between desktop and mobile platforms. All-in-all we’ve got some great improvements planned over the next 8 months which will make us much more competitive.

In five years I’d like to see us pushing to be the business management system of choice for creatives worldwide. We have some great ideas for Solo and Studio. Outside of that we have a few other products for different markets in the pipeline. Unfortunately I can’t speak about them at the moment.

Coming from England, what does your user-base look like? 

Roughly about 50% North America, 20% UK then scattered across Europe and the rest of the world.

Any sneak-peeks on upcoming features?

Yeah we’re currently working on one-click timing and estimates and many more pretty graphs. Longer term you’ll have to wait and see.


Zach Katkin

Zach is the owner of a number of small businesses including Atilus. He has used many of the small business tools and tips featured on this site in order to help his company. Zach – who general doesn’t like speaking about himself in 3rd person – wants to help you – that’s right, now I’m talking to you – make your small business the best it can be using the Interweb.


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