Percentify: Rob Penny and Jon Burrow

Co-founder Rob Penny discusses the challenges of growing his tech start-up while working full-time and creating an app that's as streamlined as possible

Name: Rob Penny and Jon Burrow
Company name: Percentify
Location: Greater London
Date launched: 02/04/15
Website: www.percentifyapp.com

Tell us what your business does:

We make a simple to-do list app with a difference. When you add a task you think about how long it will take to complete it. This allows the app to show you your progress through your list, based on time rather than number of tasks.

This encourages you to complete bigger tasks, rather than just ticking off the little ones.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

I had a new job managing a creative team, and was having trouble juggling so many things. I was always making unrealistic to-do lists, and found myself ticking off the quick, easy tasks so I made a simple spreadsheet with tasks and their estimated times.

The eureka moment came when I took the times and converted them to a simple percentage.

How did you know there was a market for it?

If it works for me, then it will work for others. It’s such a simple way of thinking and the app store has global reach, so we knew there would be a market for it.

What were you doing before starting up?

Me and Jon freelance as digital creatives at an agency called Toaster, who do a lot of work for Google. We still work there and run Percentify in our spare time. There’s been a lot of late nights!

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes. Well, when I was a kid I wanted to be an inventor. I’m so happy that I now have the opportunity to do both!

How did you raise the money?

We saved the money from our freelancing work. Our only cost was a coder as we’ve done the rest ourselves.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

We sell Percentify for 79p in the App Store.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

It turns out that the more minimal you design a product, the harder it can be to make it. Each interaction was so important and had to be perfect. Looking at the app now you wouldn’t believe the number of amends we went through. The list in our spreadsheet is somewhere around 150.

We originally planned to have the app built in two months. In the end it took 14. We just rolled with it and carried on with our day job, but it has been a massive learning curve for us: a simple product does not equal an easy production process.

What was your first big breakthrough?

The first time the app was functioning and the percentages were adding up correctly. It looked terrible, but it was working and that was very exciting.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

If someone tells you that something is going to take much longer than you expect, then listen to that advice and factor it in. Don’t be afraid to pay a bit more money for good people and tools. It will easily pay itself off in the long run.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

We would love to take Percentify beyond lists, and beyond the iPhone. We think that personal time management is something that everyone struggles with and we want to help.

Our dream is a cloud-based, cross-platform personal planning tool. That’s a lot of buzzwords, but we think it can be big!

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