A custom application design allowing the Customer Care team at Cluey to quickly and efficiently manage a high volume of online learning sessions.
About Get a Room — Conference Room Booking App
Get a Room, Conference Room Booking application is more of a business than a side project now, but it started as a test. In 2011 my project partner Rich Hollis and I spent a few months created the initial version of the product to see if we could acquire some customers. At that point, when tech solutions were much farther behind than they are now, people in small companies booked rooms using pen and paper. We created a simple Website, and when our MVP was finished, we started to reach out to potential customers, primarily co-working spaces.
In the beginning given that much of our customer base was co-working spaces, we debated pivoting to a co-working space management tool. In the end we decided to focus on room booking only, which we believed would allow us to tap into a larger market.
We were able to get a small amount of paying customers on board and immediately got feedback on the product from these customers, which we used to improve the product and prioritize features. We repeated this process for many months.
Rich resided in London and me in New York City. We worked remotely together on design and development and building the product and the business. I have to credit Rich for being one of the best people I've ever worked with; he's incredibly kind and patient individual and a very talented engineer.
Over the years the product evolved and we built many features that allowed small to medium sized businesses to do basic user administration, manage rooms, floors, and even buildings and multiple companies under one roof.
We built reporting so customers could understand room usage and a catering component so food and beverage service could be linked with a booking. We created a signage feature so that bookings could be displayed on a tablet outside the room.
One of the biggest features we built was an external booking component that allowed companies to host a public Website and booking feature so that people from the general public can book rooms and companies can utilize unused space: see a live version.
We learned a lot, and personally, some learnings that really resonated with me were, how far you can get in the beginning by doing things that don’t scale. Anyone who has ever built a business knows this. On the flip side, because of doing things that don’t scale, the trade-off means not having automated systems. The implication of this is that we spent a lot of time doing personal product trials and with potential customers as well as onboarding for new ones, and basically becoming a small sales team. Which made me realize the importance of a dedicated sales team!
Because we handled all the sales, we were confronted with how hard it can be to get customers to convert and how much time and energy is spent in the selling process.
We never raised money. Instead, we took the slow growth path and retained 100% ownership of the company. Both scenarios have extreme trade-offs, but this is the one that we were comfortable with.