We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Brian Douglas. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Brian below.
Hi Brian, thanks for joining us today. Can you talk to us about a risk you’ve taken – walk us through the story?
As a service-oriented person, I connect well with the idea of a service-based business. That’s easy. But sometimes the best way to serve others is to not be the one serving them. In the past, I have often directed my clients to products off the shelf versus us building it. It’s cheaper and faster, and if it meets their needs, why not? That lasts until the business outgrows the canned solution. Then the company is looking for something that aligns better with how they run their business — something custom. My client takes on new risks during that custom development process. Will the result succeed? Will the end-users be happy? Will we have enough budget and get it done fast enough? Being inspired by Elon Musk and how SpaceX is designing re-usable rockets, we jump start that whole custom development process by building most of the components up-front at our cost. Then we marry the reusable bits with the custom parts as we engage with the client. It saves our clients time, money, and risk up front. Thus, the future of BDC Software is a hybrid of products and services. It’s risky making the transition to offer both. We have to redesign our business models, create new relationships, and reimagine our marketing. Our first pilot clients for this strategy have been happily satisfied with the result.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
I’ve always had a passion for computers and anything innovative. I got into programming at a young age. It seemed somewhat mysterious and full of possibilities at the same time. I started BDC Software as an extension to that passion. BDC creates software *people* love to use. Software is for people, and we create the best possible experiences through our experience and usability research. We can create custom software from scratch or build on something pre-existing. Having worked on many systems for many industries, we discovered about 60-80% of the work is similar for all our clients. Some time ago, we started packaging up those similar bits. Now we have a library of parts and components that can fit together in different ways to create new applications. Since we don’t have to work as hard at writing those components, we can put together new systems in a manner more predictable, with less risk, and more quickly.
Can you tell us the story behind how you met your business partner?
My cofounder is my wife. We met in computer science school at Texas Christian University. She had only one more semester to go when I graduated. I had a few good interviews after graduation, but there was one small problem: She wanted to go to grad school out of state. I didn’t feel good about starting with some company and after months of training, to wave goodbye. I started contracting and Brian Douglas Consulting was born. My wife’s grad school ambitions took a different turn and she ended up helping me with the practice. For nearly a decade our consulting practice was a husband-and-wife team taking on various projects, more and more for smaller businesses and non-profits.
We’d love to hear a story of resilience from your journey.
We have been blessed to help many smaller companies start up and grow up. One such company, a software business, became a key client and we had many resources building their core software products. They became so successful the owners decided it was time to sell the business. Soon afterwards, the new owners wanted to bring those core products in-house. So, we lost the account and a lot of work all at once. At the same time, we were finishing up another larger project, so the projects thinned out to nearly nothing. Many of our best people left the company which created a sort of negative momentum and exodus. From that experience I learned the importance of having a mixture of resources, contractors and employees, and to have a strategy for developing an “emergency fund” for when times are tough. I could have had my people working on product development if I only had a vision for developing products at that time. It’s important to have contingency plans for everything. After many lessons learned, BDC is ultimately propelled to add value to our services with our own innovative products.