Should you Build or Buy? In this episode of In the Now, Neal Quesnel, CEO of What Army, discusses his decision to invest in software to improve and differentiate his website service business. He could have bought third party software to do the job, but he decided to invest significant time and resources to build a new, custom-made software product from the ground up.
While many service businesses fail when they try to create products, Neal uses creativity, innovation and discipline to create a highly useful product that helps him grow his business and retain clients.
If you’ve ever faced this difficult decision, then Neal’s experience may help you think about the best way to turn your vision into reality. Listen to his interview with David Reske now!
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Brad Chisum / Founder & Parther of THE LAUNCH FACTORY
Founder & Parther
THE LAUNCH FACTORY
Chris Stephenson Head of Operations NLP at NUIX Co-Founder of Topos Labs
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NUIX Co-Founder of Topos Labs
Michal Cymbalisty Domination Finance
Co-Founder, Business Strategy
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Neal Quesnel grew tired of using over a dozen third-party tools. So, what did the CEO of WhatArmy do instead? He built a new, custom-made software product that sets his website development and support company apart from the competition. Listen to how he pulled it off in this week’s episode of In the Now.
Read the interview snapshot and listen to the full conversation here.
Nowspeed: My name is Dave Reske and welcome to this edition of In the Now where we focus on uncovering the myths and misunderstandings of marketing and leadership with some of the world’s most interesting people. My guest today is Neal Quesnel. He’s the founder and CEO of WhatArmy, a WordPress & Shopify website development and support company. I have known Neil for many years, and I’m thrilled that you are taking the time to be on the show. Thanks for coming on.
Neal: Thank you. Thanks for having me on.
Nowspeed: So a little background about Neil. He’s a lifelong innovator and a Forbes published author. He co-founded WhatArmy, which internally developed this product we’re going to talk a little bit about called Watchtower HQ, which helps MSPs and digital agencies save time and money while increasing efficiency by managing their clients’ websites.
So, first, Neil, I’ve always loved the extreme focus that WhatArmy has had on the business model around WordPress, maintenance and support, and I really want to talk more about that. But just to start, I’d like you to smash a myth about an agency building their own software. How does a services company also get to be a software company? Can it actually work?
Neal: Yeah, well, I think every agency has the ability to do it. It’s just kind of falling into the right niche and saying, “Hey, there’s a bunch of other tools out there. None of them are kind of the right tool that solves the problem that we’re trying to solve. Why don’t we use our internal resources to create that?” So, that’s what what we did. When we created it internally initially, I think that’s one thing and it’s a kind of an easy cobbled together process just to fill your needs. When you try to turn it into customer-facing software, that’s when it turns a little bit more challenging.
Nowspeed: Yeah, it sounds like a really hard thing to do, to be honest. I’ve attempted to do this myself a few times. First, tell us what it is and how it helps your business. What is the software?
Neal: Yeah, so when we started, we were kind of a website monitoring maintenance security company. So we were using a bunch of tools like Pingdom, MxToolBox, Manage WP; we’re using all these tools together. There were probably 10-15 tools that we were using. You have to log in, set up every individual client that you have. And, then, on a monthly basis, go in, rip down information, and make sure you’re monitoring everything across this wide net of different tools.
So, we said, well, these are great. The unbundling of everything in the mid 2010s to make one niche product was a thing, right. We decided, well, we need all these things bundled back together. So that was why we created it — to put each individual tool that we needed into one place so we can manage all of those client websites within that. One login and one-click access directly to their websites to make updates and changes and access. They’re staging environments, all that fun, exciting stuff.
Nowspeed: So, this is more about internal efficiency and making life easier for your team or was it also about giving you a differentiation in the marketplace? So you could everything better than your competitors?
Neal: I think probably both because a majority of our competitors are still utilizing that swath of tools if you will, rather than narrowing down and just utilizing one. So it definitely gives us that ability but, at the same time, I guess they’re one and the same, right, because if we’re able to be more efficient, then we’re able to execute in a more favorable light for our clients relative to our competitors. And that just kind of gives us a reason to utilize WhatArmy.
This is a conversation you don’t want to miss. Watch the rest here.