Fueled by nearly $1.6 million in new funding and an abundance of ambition, recently transplanted startup Queue Software is gearing up to launch its first product.
In the meantime, the Raleigh-based company anticipates more than doubling in size by hiring 11 new employees by the spring, which would give it a total of 18 workers.
“We would hire more today if we could, but it takes time,” said Aidan Cunniffe, the company’s 20-year-old co-founder and CEO.
Cunniffe dropped out of Syracuse University after founding the business last year with two friends – Nate Frechette and Paul Berg, who are both 23. It started out as a consulting firm called Queue the Future that developed customized apps for clients, but switched strategies – and names – when the founders realized that creating apps for its clientele was a slow, repetitive process.
“Because most of the (clients) knew exactly what they wanted, we were really just translating their idea into working code,” Cunniffe said.
So they set out to create a software product called Dropsource that would enable businesses – especially startups, small businesses and marketing agencies – to create apps themselves rather than outsourcing the work at considerable cost.
“Dropsource is going to be a platform that enables people to very quickly develop sophisticated mobile applications,” Cunniffe said.
The working version that they developed was strong enough that Queue was able to raise $1.55 million in funding in October from about a dozen angel investors. The company previously had raised $100,000 in seed funding.
H. Christian Hölljes, a one-time Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur who’s a professor of innovation and design at N.C. State University, was impressed when he saw a demonstration of the product.
“The sophistication that I’ve seen in what these guys are doing is unparalleled,” he said. “The idea that somebody with an idea for an app can execute it without learning a line of code is ground-breaking.”
Hölljes isn’t an investor in the business but said he is helping the company out, including sharing his network of contacts, because “I believe in them.”
Certainly there are companies today that offer “app generator” software for creating apps. But, said Ian Gertler, Queue’s chief marketing officer, those products take a cookie-cutter, template-based approach.
“You can customize it a little bit, but it is essentially the same product,” he said.
By contrast, with Dropsource you will be able to “create completely custom experiences the same way a developer would,” Cunniffe said. “There are no templates or anything like that.”
And it’s designed to produce an app quickly – in a few hours or a few days – depending on how complicated it is. Almost all of that time is devoted to using drag-and-drop tools to design the application.
“When you hit ‘build,’ it will write all the code for you,” Cunniffe said. “It will write several hundred thousand lines of code in like ten seconds.” It also will simultaneously produce code for both Apple and Android apps.
Queue envisions launching Dropsource next spring following a limited beta test.
“We really want to make sure that the experience is right before we open it up to everyone,” Gertler said.
Pricing hasn’t yet been determined, but the goal is to make it easily affordable to a wide range of businesses.
“Right now,” Cunniffe said, “you need to have a lot of skills and a lot of money.”
Talent base key
The monthly subscription fee will include hosting the app in the cloud and will be pegged to usage volume.
Customers “will own all their code, their app, their data. ... We’re just hosting it for them and allowing them to use the (Dropsource) tool,” Cunniffe said. Queue will also license the software to companies that want to host their apps themselves.
In early August, the company moved from Syracuse, N.Y., to downtown Raleigh’s Warehouse District to take advantage of the local technology talent – something they found lacking in Upstate New York.
Queue also considered other locations, but found Silicon Valley and New York City to be too expensive. In addition, “it’s really difficult to get people to be loyal there, because there are so many fish in the water,” Cunniffe said.
“After visiting here and Atlanta and talking to people in Austin and some of the other tech hubs,” he added, “the Triangle consistently rose to the top of the list as, outside the Valley, the best place to be.”