Guest Adam Coulon

Guest Adam Coulon

I am joined by Adam Coulon the CTO and Co-founder of WiGo Trips


Thu, 28 Mar 2019 04:20:54 GMT


In this episode I get to talk to Adam about travel, working in a bootstrapped startup, and hear a few amazing perls of wisdom about life in general.

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I am joined by Adam Coulon the CTO and Co-founder of WiGo Trips


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Kenzen’naru Tamashī wa, Kenzen’naru Seishin to, Kenzen’naru Nikutai ni Yadoru

A healthy soul dwells within a healthy mind and body

Dave: Hello, and welcome to the podcast. I’m your host, Dave Albert. In this show, I talk about technology, building a company as a CTO and co founder and have guests to discuss their roles in technology and entrepreneurship.

Today, I’m joined by Adam Coulon, the co founder and CTO of Wigo Trips. Thanks so much for joining us, Adam.

Adam: Yeah, thank you so much for having me too.

Dave: No, it’s a pleasure. Can you give us a little bit of background on yourself and Wigo Trips, please.

Adam: Yeah, yeah, sure. Um, so I think to understand more about me, I kind of have to make you get to know where I started from my journey into technology. Um, when I was in high school, I was pretty, basically enthralled by this other woman in my class that spent some time in Russia. She lived in Russia for about a year and came back and could speak Russian conversationally, and just that ability that she gained after coming back really stuck with me, and I kind of made it a big goal of mine to do something kind of similar. I’m kind of fast forward a little bit got into college, I was fascinated by aerospace engineering. So I chose that as kind of my first discipline. And a lot of ways I used that as a mechanism to start traveling around the world. Um, I kind of realized that you could do different research projects at different universities. So I spent time in a couple other countries and really love that kind of experience. I’m kind of fast forward again, a little bit I kind of was noticing how much technology in general was shaping the world in the future. And just decided to kind of go all in with it at some point. And so about five years ago, I began working as a software developer, freelance, I dropped off graduate school to pursue just software development in general. And after about a year of working as a freelancer, I landed a full time position in Austin, Texas. At this really cool company called Towny, that was building kind of reward program for shopping local and banking local. Um, so yeah, yeah, it was great, good people. I worked at that for about three years, wrote the first line of code did the three other system, worked on their mobile app, did basically I was kind of like, using the opportunity to get as good as I could with software development. I’d wake up immediately start working, have a lunch break, work again, have a dinner break, gym break and work again till like I passed out. And I kind of lived that regiment for about three years working at Towny and improved quite a bit during that time.

Dave: Well, good on you for sticking with the gym anyway. The first thing is that fails myself.

Adam: It’s something I’ve been trying to keep up with. There’s a saying in Japanese actually that I really love. It goes, “Kenzen naru ‘‘tamashii’’ wa, kenzen naru seishin to, kenzen naru nikutai ni yadoru” and it basically means a healthy soul resides in a healthy mind and body. So I really like to and just kind of living that you really kind of see how why people really kept saying that phrase, it led to a really good life balance of keeping the mind healthy as well as the body.

Dave: Nice. I like that. I’m going to have to find, an image of that to keep it handy.

Adam: Yes

Dave: Very interesting, so what, what is Wigo Trips?

Adma: So we go trips is a community for group vacationers and people who like to host those and go on them. Essentially, it’s a double sided marketplace for group vacations. Where once you’re a member, you’re able to define a trip, put up images, the description, define an itinerary for it, kind of talk about what’s included, and come up with different room and lodging and booking options for people that might want to join it. And through our platform are able to once you define that, list your vacation and it’s discoverable by other members who can choose to go on it or not.

Dave: Okay, so it’s like the whole destination.

Adam: Yeah, it’s the whole experience the whole vacation itself. So it’s kind of like a couple steps beyond Airbnb. So with Airbnb, you can just get accommodations and then they give you recommendations, beyond that of what you can do in the area. What Wigo Trips is, is really the entire experience kind of package together.

Dave: That’s really interesting. So it’s, it’s, it reminds me of how a number of like a cruise would be basically everything kind of package together so that you don’t have to do so much thinking. Which I can remove a lot of the stress of the actual travel.

Adam: Exactly. It’s like when you when you book a vacation and you want to spend time doing a week or so have a lot of really fun things that you want to accomplish during it. You have to do a lot of independent bookings, you have to get transportation by itself. You have to get the hotels by itself. Each kind of excursion provider you have to talk to and sometimes you’ll get like have like weeks between communications with them depending on how remote they are. So it really kind of just packages all of that into a single shareable link, that people can see all the information about a trip and make kind of like a single payment to cover it all.

Dave: That’s really interesting. How, how long have you been operating?

Adam: So we have been live for about three months. At the end of January, we launched in the app stores. But we’ve kind of Jackie has been working on the concept for about two years now. And I kind of came on as CTO last May so they have relatively recently.

Dave: And so so Jackie’s your CEO?

Adam: Yes. So Jackie McCarthy is the original co founder and CEO of the company. She used to work in Of Horizon and basically has just over time developed a really strong sense for kind of user behavior and user interaction within applications. She also has led group trips in the fashion industry pretty successfully, and kind of wanted to kind of ultimately combine all that knowledge and expertise into just a fantastic platform that she completely came up with.

Dave: Nice. So how big is the tech team? You have some people working with you?

Adam: So right now it’s just me, um, we’ve got a really strong relationship with the team in India, that kind of as we get resources, we can scale them up or down. And there, they’ve been very flexible and deliver very good code. But yeah, the majority has been me. I’ve done all the system, a good chunk of the mobile app. For a brief period, I was actually hiring a really good friend of mine to do mobile app development. And I was paying him out of pocket. And he did very fantastic work that I’ve been very impressed with but he has since chosen to pursue other endeavors and so I’ve kind of carried on and continued where he left off.

Dave: Yeah. So what kind of, of what you’re willing to share? What’s your stack like?

Adam: Sure. Um, yeah, I, I love transparency I love basically sharing information so totally down to talk about this. We’re using an open source everything. We’ve got Postgres Database, Node JS application layer for API’s and then we’re using React for web web apps and recreated from mobile apps.

Dave: Have you had any difficulties with react, React Native, even even more particularly React Native?

Adam: Yeah. So anyone that’s worked with React Native knows that kind of like, the general idea is there like your apps will get out and work it’s great, but there’s a lot of little gotchas along the way and unless you have kind of like like direct experience working with it, and each one is going to kind of snag you for a little bit. Um, but yes, there are certain difficulties that are non trivial that you come across and have to deal with. But but overall, it was very functional.

Dave: Yeah, I know, I spent a lot of time thinking about React Native, decided not to go with it and go with actual native applications. Of course, that means that our iOS application, if we started with is quite far along and our Android is very mature at the moment. So we have a large amount of data, and also another, quite a few other elements that I could just see we’re going to be an issue with React Native and even though I have extensive JavaScript experience, my actual React Native was nothing beyond a few simple sample applications. And so they just didn’t make sense.

Adam: Yeah, it’s and it’s something that that we chose to start with simply because I had a lot of prior experience with it. So a lot of those gotchas, I knew exactly what to do with the start. Plus the friend that I was working with, he has a history of being a very good Native mobile developer. So he he could do iOS native and Android native, but he was looking to get more experience in the JavaScript world. So it was a very just a neat, kind of like contract had benefits for us both. And that was really cool because kind of as needed, he could inject native screens just directly into the recommended framework. And just just because of his prior experience and abilities.

Dave: Very neat. Yeah, that’s one of the things about frameworks like that is that those with deep understanding of the framework have one skill set, but those with deep understanding of the underlying framework can actually have quite a leg up. In some cases where often for me, the frameworks can feel like they’ve they’ve hamstrung me. And it’s easier to do it natively then with the framework.

Adam: Oh, yeah 100% I can do that. Um, even something as simple as kind of having a selector for your email client to choose how you want to open up an email for example. React Native doesn’t have a way to do that you can tap into whatever they’ve chosen as a default but I don’t think they have the selector you can actually use. those cases we had to create native will pop up from the bottom.

Dave: I gotcha. So far, what has been your your biggest challenge, other than getting more done faster, which is what we all try to do, but I don’t know anyone who’s actually accomplishing that in a way that they would like.

Adam: Um, so? Yeah, that’s a good question. So like, in terms of just development, um, that Wigo application and platform isn’t all that complex. It’s it’s essentially just a handful of Ledger’s that we’re just keeping track of. There’s not any big data studies in the back or anything like that. So kind of so long as you follow standard development practices and techniques. We ended up with a generally bug free experience. The the thing those like, as soon as we started getting users on the platform, the direction of it kind of takes a mind of its own. Because you have to start that balance of really providing things that they notice that visually to sometimes, along with it, keep continuing to improve the fundamentals. And there are definitely times especially in a young company, when you do have to push and take on tech debt just to kind of put something out that pleases everybody that’s using it.

Dave: I gotcha. So do you have designers, UX people in your in that group that you use within India? Or do you have some internally or how are you managing that?

Adam: So Jackie is very much a, like a jack of many skills. She basically whatever someone else couldn’t do for her, she started to learn and take on herself. And through that discipline. She’s become a very good designer. She wasn’t a designer professionally to start, but I would say that if definitely she’s up there now. She’s so yeah, Jackie is provided all of the design all of that kind of direction.

Dave: Wow, that’s amazing.

Adam: Yeah, she’s pretty impressive.

Dave: How did you two get connected?

Adam: Um, so I was actually looking around and some online travel communities and came across her profile. And at the time, I was kind of feeling ambitious myself. This wanting to do my own project, my own platform kind of thing. And I noticed that she was the founder of Wigo trip sounds like that sounds interesting. So kind of looked more into the company read about her vision for it, and was immediately sold. I was like, this would be so many career goals for me at once. Um, and so I just immediately got into kind of a business kind of conversation with her. Um, we got into kind of talking about the structure of the business itself, all the way to like, the next 510 years, like future vision of the entire thing. Um, and yeah, I was just immediately sold from her work ethic, which he’s tried to do, which is put together the research, and yeah, everything she’s done to structure the business kind of all the above.

Dave: That’s pretty neat. So how do you guys have any current funding or are you bootstrapped or are you funded through, you know, a product.

Adam: So we are completely bootstrapped at this point which is which is great. That’s how my soul is, I like that. But it’s not always feasible, this kind of thing.

Dave: I completely understand where we have some investment, but mostly it’s been through consultancy work.

Adam: Cool, cool.

Dave: And it’s, you know, you want to scale faster. And really the only thing that makes that happen is money so.

Adam: Yeah, that’s what it comes down to. I’ve invested a good amount of my personal funds as Jackie has as well. We’ve have completed the very small kind of friends and family, but it’s, it’s not all that much. We are kind of preparing ourselves to seek a larger kind of seed round investment right now. Um, so we’re making sure data is recorded well enough and financials are in place. I think we have a pretty much got it all. We’re just kind of finding a couple things.

Dave: Yeah. There’s always fine tuning of course.

Adam: Yeah. And we have actually started to generate some initial revenue as well, which is..

Dave: Nice. That’s very good. So what are your typical customers at the moment? What’s what? Like? Who would they typically be?

Adam: So right now, we’re kind of focusing at first on the millennials. We are in a lot of different millennial travel groups and just general group travel groups, and reaching out and getting a lot of interest from that demographic. It’s, we’re kind of entering a new ish sharing economy in general, across the world, where people are becoming more and more comfortable with sharing the information, sharing their experiences and sharing their homes, sharing their cars, all sorts of things. And so kind of that younger demographic is really kind of latching on to this kind of group trip idea.

Dave: And what about the providers?

Adam: So yeah, that’s interesting to kind of one of the problems with any kind of double sided marketplace, is that you have to kind of build up the demand and supply at the same time, it’s a little bit tricky. So what we’ve done is we’ve started, we’ve launched with what we call an ambassador program, where we started out with about 600 applicants to be Wigo travel ambassadors, down, selected that to 30. And I’ve kind of worked with those top 30. And what we do is, yeah, we basically, we hire them as contractors, and we work with them to define a trip. As a company, we then sponsor the complete cost of the trip that we define with them. And we kind of price it such that they’re able to make a profit and we can make a small profit as a company but it’s it’s pretty close to kind of that cost right now. Um, and the Traveling Ambassador will take home 20% of the gross proceeds from that.

Dave: How do you find those ambassadors? I, You said you had was 600. Was that 600 applicants?

Adam: Yeah, yes. This is another kind of example of some Jackie magic. We we posted just general job applications across job forums across the internet. basically asking if anyone was interested to make money while traveling. And if so, with that simple message, we got a lot of responses actually. And from then it’s it was really just for a few months Jackie did nothing but just schedule interviews back to back all day with each person that applied to get a sense of who they were, what they’ve, how they’ve traveled in the past. And if she believes that would be successful as Wigo Ambassadors and just put in the hard work and diligence to find a very good crew.

Dave: Hear yah. How do you find, how are you reaching the millennials that you mentioned?

Adam: So right now, we haven’t spent basically any money on marketing and acquisition. We’re we’ve set up kind of a referral network. And we’re going to see how how that spreads. And so right now, it’s really a lot of our ambassadors are tasked with bringing people into the app. They’re kind of serving as sales people for their trips. And so that has attracted a lot of interest. Just and on top of that, yeah, we reach out to different travel communities are very active on social media. So we’ve got Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages. And we’re posting on those pretty regularly every day.

Dave: Yeah, it seems like this is a really good Instagram market.

Adam: Oh, yeah. Once again, Jackie has talent there. She can coordinate images, do all the great things.

Dave: Yeah, I know, it’s travel is an easy one for easy air quote, easy, as easy as any..

Adam: Yeah, totally.

Dave: But trying to reach doctors, as we are on Instagram is a little harder. Medical students are a bit easier but still, it’s not the same. People love Instagram for travel so I can see a lot of opportunity there for you guys.

Adam: Yeah, yeah. And and it’s kind of like we’re starting with millennials because there’s some of the easiest to attract with limited resources and in our expertise, I’m kind of as we grow we’re going to reach into bigger markets and start marketing toward larger demographics.

Dave: Yeah I know, I if I ever take a holiday again, I could see it being nice way to do it.

Adam: Yeah, we actually talked to a woman that was 65, living single. And they had just had a problem. She was like, I would love to go on vacations, but I just don’t know how to get started with them and how to meet people and basically have a good time without having done it three times to make mistakes in the past. And she was in love with the concept of Wigo trips.

Dave: How do you manage the work with the remote staff? Or the remote? freelancers, I suppose?

Adam: Yes. So. So it’s kind of a very kind of organic kind of custom relationship. Kind of something I’ve realized, just with tech in general, is that there seems like there might be a standard way to accomplish something, but in reality, it’s very much up to the team to do it as as they can. And so, what we’ve got going with their team in India is I’m having them do a lot of kind of static work, um, we’ve had too much resources to devote to them. So I’ve had them do a couple of Static websites. And then what I’ll do is to kind of take those and kind of put them into a react app and kind of hook them up to data and data binding and, or sort of controls to those.

Dave: Okay, that’s interesting.

Adam: Yeah. So it’s kind of like, like we use them as efficiently as possible. So for them to create, like a static HTML page with HTML, CSS, JavaScript is very easy. They’ve got templates modules to do that. And then they’ll just hand it off pretty quick. And then I’ll use my expertise and knowledge of the system to just kind of place them exactly where they’re going to be most effective.

Dave: Yeah, that’s really smart. So that’s really good, which is much harder to do with actual native applications.

Adam: Yeah, yeah. And part of it is like you just you really want to decrease the complexity of what I’m kind of people kind of a little bit outside the company are working on just simply because they’re not fully engaged and you they were doing a lot of other things outside and see if you can kind of simplify what they have to think about and kind of leave the complicated stuff for internal with the experts kind of makes overall a pretty efficient process.

Dave: What’s the kind of the biggest element of what you’re trying to solve right now to any specific feature set or?

Adam: Um, so I guess kind of from a technical standpoint, we are focusing right now pretty heavily on real time chat. This just just there’s a lot of components to it to coordinate to kind of get the experience that people expect nowadays, back originally could get by with simply just relaying a message and having a timestamp and saying who it’s from. But now there’s a lot of expectations you have to be able to share all sorts of files all sorts of images have linked previews. You have to tell people when someone’s typing when someone’s looked at it. And so you have to kind of like take into account all this metadata and additional data and features that people yeah, just like in the chat system these days. So we’re kind of that’s our current technical focus for next couple weeks.

Dave: Yeah, that’s what we’re working on our groups feature, which is kind of a that’s kind of chat kind of forum. It’s where the doctors or other health care providers can discuss different medical content. So it’s got a lot of those same types of elements. What what are you going to use for those types of like the identifier when someone’s typing, do you know what kind of technology underlying communication technology you’re planning to use?

Adam: Yeah, yeah. So we kind of started out using Firebase messaging, which was kind of our first choice. But they, they, it was kind of like inconvenient to use that in conjunction with your own authentication system, which I had already created that kind of like you to tie into Google’s off. Um, so I looked into Twilio is a chat solution. It’s newer, but has all the bells and whistles, which is great. And they kind of do all a cart pricing, which works for us. And they make it very easy to tap into your own authentication system. So I’ve actually been Yeah, branding with Twilio, which I’ve I’ve looked like quite a bit.

Dave: Nice. So I have to look into that. We’re doing we’re dealing most of ours through the push notifications through either the API or the Firebase Cloud.

Adam: Okay, okay.

Dave: Well, we’re just now in the process of the Firebase because of Android, but long term, I’d considered something like MQTT, MQQT? No, MQTT, it’s you know very lightweight so it uses very little battery..

Adam: Nice.

Dave: Which is what Facebook Messenger uses. So that’s the protocol, I’m considering that but you know always willing to consider something that can help us move faster with..

Adam: Oh yeah, that sounds like

Dave: ..small pay.

Adam: Yeah yeah the the more convenience you add the faster you can move but then the more you pay basically.

Dave: Yeah, of course. Do you have sights on your next you knows hires next staff you might have or is it still driving towards what you have now?

Adam: Um so we’re kind of going to continue with what we’ve got with the two of us are able to make steady progress. But But certainly, yeah, as soon as we get investment, we’re going to expand the team a little bit. Um, and that’s it’s kind of an interesting thing to coordinate and think about, um, there’s different approaches definitely could take one doing such a thing. My ideal would be to have kind of in house leads for certain things like a, like parts of the system, have some leads on data analytically mobile feed, that sort of thing and have like a integration engineer that kind of runs and does DevOps and system admin kind of work. Um, but then kind of, maybe do more of the outsourced kind of trivial tasks, outsource those to external teams. And kind of internally we focus more on kind of management, architecture and integration and have external teams focus more on like the yeah, just all the deaf tasks kind of underneath all that.

Dave: Interesting.

Adam: Um, but yeah, that’s just kind of my thoughts on things.

Dave: Yeah. Yeah. You never know how it’s going to go. And you do need to remember that anytime there are multiple points of communication, there are multiple points for communication failure.

Adam: Yeah yeah, that is huge, huge truth and a lot of things. And in following that I like as much as possible. I’d rather spend a little bit extra to hire a developer that’s that much better. Because when you’re just starting out with some some stuff, if if you can hire look the best talent that’s going to go a long ways when setting up your foundation.

Dave: Definitely.

Adam: So it’s kind of the direction I tend to push things.

Dave: What the, how in depth Have you gone? As you mentioned, data analytics earlier? How in depth have you gone in the analytics arena? Are you using any specific tools or custom built or what sort of analytics are you tracking?

Adam: So we we’ve started building kind of the analytics foundation using Google Analytics, which is pretty nice. We can just kind of attach that to all of our websites or web apps pretty easily. And they even offer a little SDK you can include within the mobile app, where you can basically record any event and associate that with any user. So from yeah, just what Google Analytics offers for able to do full web tracking page views, as well as look at specifically like how long somebody is looking at particular trips, like how long they appear on the screen. I’m kind of like where they’ve clicked and where they’ve stopped clicking for example. They, if they register, fill out the profile, look at the lifts the trips, click on one, but maybe they’d never joined one. And then we can kind of gain that insight. Look at maybe like, like why they are joining a particular trip. Like maybe we should offer different kinds of trips.

Dave: I guess that is another benefit you get from React Native, is it because when I was starting the build of Medit, they were discouraging the use of Google Analytics for mobile because they wanted you to use Firebase. And Firebase didn’t have anywhere near the feature set that Google Analytics had in the past.

Adam: Yeah, a lot of these these service providers, they, they get you with their coarser. It’s been an external link you into the other stuff they do in a PR fuel.

Dave: Yeah, well, that’s, you know, I built an app, oh, five years ago or more. We use Google Analytics. It was perfect. You know, for a native application. And then when I was starting with Medit, used Firebase Analytics, and it was like, it was such an immature product at that time that it just didn’t work for us. So I’m always curious that other people are using. That’s, that’s great. Yeah. able to use Google Analytics.

Adma: Yeah, just the simple events do what we need. I’ve used to mix panel in the past, and I’ve liked them a lot too. They, I think mixed panel does have better reporting abilities, you can kind of generate reports with the dimensions you want a little bit easier. Google Analytics is a little kind of tricky to get the look on the data that you want. But once you get that, it’s it’s okay. And and we’re, we’re not doing any complex data studies, either.

Dave: Yeah, we tried using mix panel. And it was a nice product. And if we’d only had simple queries, it was it would have worked. But we had a number of quite complex queries that we needed answered. And so I was going to have to build them build the queries, anyway, so it just didn’t make sense to keep using that and try to try to insert custom code into mixed panel. I mean, it supports that. But it just, it didn’t suit us it was easier to write it by hand, you know, write it from scratch.

Adam: Yeah, yeah, totally understand.

Dave: What areas concern you the most about being a CTO and co founder.

Adam: Um, I think the area that I’m kind of most conscious of is kind of kind of this communication in general. As if you’re just a pure developer, you really you’ve got your expertise, you come in, you basically tell the computer what to do, hopefully does it and you’re good. You don’t really need to think too much beyond that, which is very nice. But kind of when you get into positions of leadership, you then gain the responsibility of having to communicate outwardly to other people involved. Just kind of what’s going on because to most people that don’t do tech themselves, like, have deep expertise in it, it’s it’s magic. It’s invisible. It’s they, they have to just trust that the person that did do it did the right thing. And so that’s just a huge thing that you have to remain conscious of as any kind of technical leader and a CTO, yeah, you’re at the very tip of that. So by stakeholders, you’ve got your entire user basis to more than just a manager next year or something like that. You really have to think pretty deep on a lot of philosophies.

Dave: How do you get your information from the the ultimate customers of what to work on next?

Adam: Oh, yeah, that’s, that’s good question. Um, so we have a regular Ambassador meetings with all of our ambassadors. They’re kind of our, what we’re considering our early adopters, like the people that are really die hard they’re putting in their own time, their own effort. Really make this platform as good as it can be. And so we meet with them right now once a week, but I think we’re going to do maybe once every two weeks. And yeah, just hold the conference with everybody and get their feedback. We do weekly polls to see just kind of what they would like to see worked on next. And so long as we don’t have like a immediately pressing kind of other tasks going on that we need to do. And we basically just follow the direction, which works pretty well.

Dave: What do you are there any specific tools that you use for tracking that or anything else that you couldn’t live without?

Adam: Um, so I personally like Asana a lot for kind of general department organization. Once we become bigger, and we do a lot more like inter-departmental work. That’s when like, JIRA starts to really shine. Got some overhead to set up but it works well for department relationships and things like that. I’m kind of just getting started though we really just use get lab for most things. The issue tracking, they’ve got to come on board you can put issues on and so we just kind of use that. Every bug, every little piece of feedback would just make a ticket for.

Dave: So we started with Trello. And then once we outgrew that we went down a big hole of trying a number of different things, multiple Trello boards, we tried product board with Trello and then eventually went to JIRA. I wish that as soon as we outgrew Trello I’d gone straight to JIRA. But my experience with JIRA had been in a very large corporate environment and was not a great experience. But so far, it’s been pretty good for us. I mean, we’ve only moved two and a half months ago or so. But we’ve got you know, we’ve got 8 people well 9 now I guess. So, it’s a little harder to try to roadmap with all those moving pieces. And Trello definitely was not suited for it with at least the mix of staff we had, maybe if we’d had someone to kind of manage that, that project management stuff, our product owner style, that would have helped but so I just would recommend anybody as soon as you outgrow whatever you’re using, go ahead and go to JIRA. There’s a reason everybody uses it. But it’s the best solution that that is out there I suppose.

Adam: I agree. I’m on the same page is that unfortunately I had to kind of suffer through a poorly setup instance of trying in past that can be a thing that makes you not want to use it, but But no, no, let’s spend the time set it up correctly, and it’ll take care of what you need to do.

Dave: Well, and that’s the other thing now, you know, so the enterprise environment that we were in it was a self hosted and now it’s cloud, you know, it’s just a tenor for up to 10 people. So that’s a lot of overhead removed from your, from your, your plate. So this episode is not sponsored by chair.

Adam: I loved your, I love Atlassian too.

Dave: You know, we use Confluence as well and bit bucket. So, I mean, I do use well, and Trello is another one of their tools. So I use a lot of them, but I wouldn’t consider myself a fan necessarily. They just they seem to work, so..

Adam: Yeah, it’s, that’s, that’s true. It’s maybe five years from now. There’ll be a whole another set of tools that we’ll just use in our profession.

Dave: Of course, they’re always are. So is your infrastructure setup in AWS? Is that what you said?

Adam: Oh, actually Google Cloud.

Dave: Oh, Google. Okay.

Adam: Um, yeah, I’ve really enjoyed them. I actually haven’t had much experience in AWS. And so kind of as I got started learning hosting skills, I guess, I just kind of started with Google. Um, I was initially really kind of like, intrigued by the infrastructure is code kind of idea. I was looking at solutions like terreform by Hasicorp. Yeah, we’re, uh, yeah, this is pretty compelling to me. So I use some of those and made some like, I was able to spin up Google Cloud machines with those that that was pretty neat. So just kind of like got familiar with it and kind of ran with it from there.

Dave: Is your Postgres, is it host based or is it a provide, a service offered by Google Cloud?

Adam: Yeah, we’re also using Google for Postgres services.

Dave: But I mean, are you managing the host? Or is it like in AWS there’s RDS for the SQL style hosts. So do you, like have to, you know, manage patching of that Postgres server, or is it just Postgres as a service?

Adam: It’s really just Postgres as a service. Um, you tell it, what you want kind of the parameters around it. And then it’s like, it gives you an IP and how to access it.

Dave: Oh nice.

Adam: And so then it’s up to you to do migrations and make sure that you set up data backups and archiving

Dave: Good stuff. Yeah, that’s, that’s the pain of our existence. It’s data I mean, all the Kubernetes. So, all of our services are, you know, basically ephemeral and it doesn’t matter if one goes down another one comes up but when…

Adam: I think it cut out for just a second I think it’s back.

Dave: Sorry about that. Yeah so your your data is forever

Adam: Yeah, yeah, data is so important. Every time I opened the database I’m like, making sure that everything is good at this backups some in a transaction everything all the above.

Dave: Yeah. What of interest haven’t thought to ask you about Wigo trips or your self.

Adam: Let’s see. Let’s see. So I mean, a huge reason that I am so passionate about working on this platform is that um, I’ve just traveling the world in general is a huge hobby of mine. I love going to different country. Just jumping into the culture like learning the languages and meeting all the people. And so for me, it’s more so than just my software development career. It’s really just it’s pursuing my hobbies, my passions, kind of and my career like hopefully once this all goes well I’ve all access to just a lot of vacations that will be just tons of fun to go on. So I guess do you have any particularly like types of vacations you like or any parts of the world that you’d like to see kind of thing?

Dave: Um, well, I’ve got three small kids, so I’m not going anywhere for awhile. But if you happen to come to Dublin, I’ll buy you a pint.

Adam: Awesome. I love Dublin, I was there for my sister’s wedding. Goodtime.

Dave: Yeah, so that is funny I’m from a small town in West Virginia. And I was basically so happy to be somewhere like Dublin that for four years? No, for three years for three years. We only went to like two small trips away from Dublin. And then we did go to Rome for a week. But I was basically trying to find every pub in Dublin and there are a lot here. Then we had kids and I just work now. My adventures are confined to the podcast.

Adam: That’s cool. That’s cool. The neat thing about Wigo is even if it enables people to, like attract others to their town where they live. So if there’s cool stuff around Dublin that you’d love to show off at some point, yeah, we go can definitely enable that kind of thing too

Dave: That’s interesting. No, there are a couple of places back home that would not be a typical destination, but have some interesting bits about them. So if it were part of a larger tour, from a package that might be compelling.

Adam: Yeah, it’s it’s something that like I’m I was born and raised in Kansas and I’ve got some friends in Kansas that um yeah that know all sorts of little cool hidden spots kind of just outside the cities, stuff that you’d never ever see in any kind of tourist guide or anything but just simply because they’ve grown up in the area they just know stuff that would be actually pretty cool if someone else was coming in.

Dave: What do you wish you’d known before you started on Wigo trip, started with Wigo trips.

Adam: Um, that’s a good question. Let’s see. What would I wish I knew before getting started? Um, yeah, so the one thing is, every project you do, especially those from scratch, will just in general will always be more difficult than your expectations, the classic thing like, I mean, we were originally planning to launch an MVP last year in 2018 and we kind of had parts of it, but it wasn’t quite ready. And then other things happen. And so yeah, just the, it would be very convenient to have an understanding of the total stamina required. But I’m not sure that that’s possible.

Dave: It’s ridiculous. I mean, in the mean that in the best way possible, but it is ridiculous how hard this is and how, how much is involved and what seems like a small thing is not That’s it, we got what’s becoming a mantra that there are no small changes.

Adam: None at all. It’s so so true. And, and really, one of the most important things is to just not give up yet, like always communicate the best you can know that everyone’s going to have bad days and just keep at it.

Dave: Yeah, it’s a you know, it’s a Oh, let’s just move this button. Well, what about the other thing besides it and then this bit and then if we go to this other screen, and that’s a change. And then what you think is just a five minute fix is a week’s worth of work.

Adam: Oh, yeah, totally, totally. And, and it’s kind of it’s kind of our responsibility to communicate that like, even though it’s it’s a pain to even just explain that it’s a lot of work like, just to someone that doesn’t believe that right? It’s like, Yeah, you do have to explain it and, and even though they might not want to hear it, it’s it’s just, yeah, I just kind of kept that as a personal standard.

Dave: Yeah, well, one way I’ve been able to sort of help explain some of those changes, is imagine you just want to stick an image in a Microsoft Word document. What’s going to happen? It might go fine, or it might reformat your whole document

Adam: All the days of Microsoft Word writing research papers, and then that like, like, started the whole motivation for learning a lot tech the whole thing

Dave: So is there anything else that we haven’t talked about that would be good to, to bring up for people who are beginning their journey as a founder or in the process?

Adam: Um, I guess always work on your patience. Always work on your communication, always work on your stamina. Always humble yourself. Something I’ve realized is that with software development, like we’re just humans, and we’re working with computers, which are very optimal things, even the best humans are going to make mistakes. So, so the best thing you can do is just maximize your ability to learn from any mistake. Face them always do, but also if someone says something better, consider it like, the more you can leave your private at the door. And the more you can think of all conversation and all decisions objectively, that’s when you really get answers that you can defend forever.

Dave: Very good stuff. That’s some great quotes from you.

Adam: Appreciate it. Yeah..

Dave: I’m sorry. Go ahead.

Adam: I’ll just say, I’m also Yeah, i’d also love to learn more about kind of your history and how you got started the whole progression of your company as well.

Dave: Sure. Yeah. I’ve been in IT and software development for 23 years now. God, how was that that possible? Just 21 years, just 21 years. Oh my god, I’m getting old. Anyway, I moved over here to Dublin from the state sto work in a hospital and then I went to marketing agency as a lead developer there, where I actually met my CEO Julie. She and I worked together there for a little while. And then she went away to be the head of digital marketing for a pharmaceutical for a global pharmaceutical company. Then we kept in touch and then decided, Okay, let’s let’s go back and do something together. And so we started 2015, which is the company with the goal of doing some consultancy, and then when we figured out what the right product was, work on that and that’s what we did, and we’ve been doing it for a little over two years now. The product came out, we did not celebrate year since launch, it was this month, a year ago.

Adam: Nice. Congrats. Congrats.

Dave: Thank you. Thank you, but still nowhere near happy with.. Well, that’s the wrong phrasing wish it was further along extremely happy with what we have just wish there was more of it.

Adam: Totally understand, I’m the same boat.

Dave: Yeah, that’s I mean it’s a it’s a quite complex application. It’s we have over 5000 sources of medical content. And we scraped all of that data, use machine learning and peer to peer recommendations to deliver the right content to healthcare providers based on their preferences and behaviors. We have over 9 million unique pieces of content, which we link directly to the source material. We’re in the process of building out our groups feature which will allow the communicate discussions around content we have or content that a user may find, you know, links, images video, what have you. We have. sorry, what was that?

Adam: That’s awesome. That’s quite a system. A lot of data that manage it is.

Dave: It is going pretty well. You know, like I said, do your data is forever hopefully. So I spend a good deal of time trying to make sure that all of our data is in a robust platform that we have plenty of availability. We use Kubernetes to make sure that we don’t have to worry about should a pod go down because it will just spin up a new one.

Adam: I love Kubernetes.

Dave: Yeah, definitely. I really for us, I think one of the things that is our biggest issue released in from my perspective, is understanding timings and figuring out how we can make more work go through our system with the least amount of waste. So, you know, when it’s when it’s when you’ve got a system where it’s one person, you can only do what you can do, but the waste can be minimized because of that. The not needing the different layers of communication. Yeah, so so you know, right now you’ve got just to simplify, you’ve got the design that comes from your CEO, and then you develop it or you send off those pieces to your freelancers to develop and then hook them up. But when you have so much work that you and the staff to handle it. And you have to have communications between the product owner in air quotes which would be our CEO, Julie, who’s also doing all the consulting communicating that to our designer UX expert. He then designed and developed or designs the correct user interface based on our our knowledge and understanding, and then we begin to start to develop that there are so many touch points that rework can become quite an issue. So eliminating all those things. Three processes are one of the things that I found to be the hardest to, to keep improving without spending an inordinate amount of time on. That makes sense.

Adam: No, it does completely. Um, anytime you can do regular process improvement meetings will be very helpful. Because you know, the more layers of communication get just the larger the game of telephone your playing is.

Dave: But one of the things that we did, which was the most important thing, I think for speeding up our development process was our automation pipeline. So when we do a merge into a master branch for the API, it uses Bitbucket pipelines and automatically pushes to the Container Registry. And then it sends all off a webhook to our bot, which then triggers deployment to testing and automatically runs postman tests and then gives us the results in slack and we can just tell our slack bot shipped abroad when we’re ready and roll back just as easily. So we can be just, you know, two commands And maybe four minutes from committing code tones in production. Should we need it to be?

Adam: That’s awesome. Yeah. So that’s just like it helped a ton.

Dave: It does. And we also have our iOS application so that as soon as it is merged into Master, it automatically ships the test flight so..

Adam: Nice. I should, I should set that up to

Dave: I, the, it was it was a little bit of an investment in time. I mean, it wouldn’t take you more than a day. But the amount of time that it saves is unbelievable. So we had, you know, a critical issue one day and had we not have that automation pipeline. We probably would have had that critical issue for, I don’t know, maybe an hour, maybe more, but because of the way it was set up. It was fixed in production 10 minutes after we know about it, so

Adam: That’s like with full trust to like, the fix ran through the automated testing and No, okay, yeah, this is gonna work. It’s not like, I hope this works cross my fingers. And my gosh, you know.

Dave: Exactly, now of course, I would be happy to have even more test coverage. But it’s, it’s solid. But it could be better, which I’ve never seen anywhere where it couldn’t be better things so..

Adam: You can never have too much security like that. And I’ve actually I’ve discussed this topic with a couple other CTOs that I’ve met, and just kind of like asking them like what they do to prepare efficiently for larger dev teams. Um, and some of the common things that they’ve told me are get a kind of component library and kind of like a design library basically. Looks like all the end just those two things and API documentation basically get like some solid fundamental tools for developers to kind of intuitively start building kind of that sense.

Dave: That’s a we’ve got pretty much everything in sigma for this one, so the everything built is components so the design side is in a very good state. Our API or analytics API our IOS app and our android app are all separate, you wouldn’t really call them my repost but they’re not really component based though there are some things i would like to get down to a component base later and our API documentation definitely needs some love it’s already set up it’s just the extraction process that needs updated.

Adam: I hear yeah, yeah. And in native it’s tricky because each one is very can be very different from each other. It’s kind of hard to make common components.

Dave: Yeah, um, any anything else?

Adam: Um, I think. I think that’s pretty good for me.

Dave: Cool. Yeah. So do you have any call to action to our listeners?

Adam: Call to Action? Yes, I would say always do your best to improve communication, whether it be technical, whether it be with your family, your friends, colleagues, um, everyone on this planet has a different perspective. And no one’s perspective is is naturally wrong and correct. It’s just we all have different perspectives. And so the more that we can understand each other and work with that understanding, I think overall, the better things will be

Dave: Fantastic. And how can people reach you?

Adam: Um, yeah, so you can reach me by email. I’m [email protected] I’m I’m also pretty active on Slack, Twitter as well. Um, but yeah, I’d probably say email is is the easiest at this point.

Dave: Okay, I’ll throw that in the show notes. And thank you so much for joining us. It was very informative and interesting.

Adam: Awesome. Yeah. Thank you again for having me.

Dave: My pleasure and thank you all for listening.

Until next time, remember any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.