Fastest Growing Canadian Software Company: $200k to $20M in Revenue from 2010 to 2015 with CEO Tobyn Sowden

Tobyn Sowden

In Episode #639, Nathan interviews Tobyn Sowden. He’s the CEO of Redbrick, the second fastest growing software company in Canada and the birthplace of a product called Shift.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – How to Win Friends and Influence People
  • What CEO do you follow? – N/A
  • Favorite online tool? — InVision
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— 6
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – “I would tell myself technical, all the way”

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:39 – Nathan introduces Tobyn to the show
  • 02:00 – Profit Guide named Redbrick as the second fastest software company in Canada, by measuring revenue growth
    • 02:25 – Profit Guide measured a whole 5 year period
    • 02:30 – Redbrick had $200K revenue in 2010 and $10-20M in 2015
  • 03:00 – Redbrick was launched in 2010
  • 03:15 – Redbrick started from an app distribution perspective
    • 03:38 – Redbrick has developed their own tools to track
    • 04:20 – Redbrick’s main software is Deskmetrics, which is integrated into Shift
    • 04:31 – Deskmetrics currently has 500K active users
  • 05:00 – Not all who downloads are active users
    • 05:08 – The number of downloads are tracked
    • 05:34 – SDK is a software development kit
  • 05:59 – Deskmetrics provides consulting services
  • 06:06 – Facebook is one of Deskmetrics’ sources for customer acquisition
    • 06:40 – Redbrick is currently spending around $30K for Facebook paid acquisition
    • 06:54 – Redbrick is working with a team on Facebook and is committed to growing their spending into millions of dollars for growth
  • 07:33 – Tobyn shares the idea of Shift
    • 08:07 – Shift had a preview in September and people liked it
    • 08:12 – Shift allows you to switch around your Gmail and google accounts
  • 08:51 – Tobyn increased their team size and hired more developers
  • 09:08 – Shift is a SaaS business with $20/year subscription fee
  • 09:31 – Shift primarily uses Facebook for advertising
  • 09:49 – Shift has around 30K installs and 10K active users
  • 10:00 – Shift’s free-to-paid conversion rate is around 4-5%
  • 10:23 – Shift is 3-months old
  • 10:48 – Tobyn needed to decide if they will launch Shift on December 20th or wait until 2nd week of January
  • 11:16 – Shift is doing great at the moment and there’s definitely a market for it
  • 11:40 – Tobyn shares why they decided that Shift be a desktop download
    • 12:53 – Tobyn wants to avoid integrations that will make Shift look like a browser
  • 13:15 – Redbrick has 3 parts: the app distribution side, Deskmetrics and Shift
    • 13:35 – The app distribution side is the major revenue stream
    • 13:45 – Tobyn believes that their path is the app distribution side
  • 14:16 – Team size is 37 and they’re based in Victoria BC in Vancouver, Canada
    • 14:31 – There are small teams in Poland and Brazil
  • 15:12 – Deskmetrics is primarily a desktop software analytics platform
  • 16:15 – An average customer pays $500 monthly
  • 16:36 – Tobyn was charging per number of users, but they changed it
  • 17:14 – Deskmetrics was launched in 2016
  • 17:45 – Redbrick has a lot of predictive models that they used in terms of CAC
  • 19:20 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. Facebook is one of the best places, at the moment, for paid advertising.
  2. You can always go and develop more products, but recognize when it’s wise to stick to the path you’re already on.
  3. Charging per head can at times restrict your customers from using your product to its fullest potential.

Resources Mentioned:

  • The Top Inbox – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • Organifi – The juice was Nathan’s life saver during his trip in Southeast Asia
  • Klipfolio – Track your business performance across all departments for FREE
  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Host Gator– The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible
  • Audible– Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books
  • Freshbooks – Nathan doesn’t waste time so he uses Freshbooks to send out invoices and collect his money. Get your free month NOW
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives